Former U.S. Congressman & U.S./U.N. Amb. (deputy)
Mark Siljander skillfully blends 30 years in America’s powerful political inner circles with his travels to 130 countries, gripping audiences with true stories of his private interactions with political and religious leaders in hotspots of global conflict. Mark’s efforts to promote peace defy the assumptions of traditional diplomacy. Many of these stories are compellingly recounted in his award-winning bestseller, A Deadly Misunderstanding.
Follow Mark’s personal odyssey of spiritual transformation from an anti-Muslim, right-wing, Christian political conservative to a pioneer of international peacemaking, a transition acknowledged by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who publicly recognized his “…efforts toward a more just, humane and peaceful world,” and by his acceptance of the Mohandas K. Gandhi International Peace Award in 1996. Mark analyzes current global conflicts while compellingly outlining a new approach for undermining the militant religious fanaticism that leads to outbreaks of war. Be prepared for your own personal paradigm shift as he recounts his discovery of long-hidden linguistic and cultural common ground that connects adherents of all three major Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Watch barriers of misunderstanding start to collapse as Mark links this common ground to bold possibilities for peacemaking.
Mark’s approach has inspired many of our nation's friends – and enemies – to a new path toward peace. However, at times his approach has also violently offended the entrenched self-interests of the political, diplomatic and religious establishment. Specifically, Mark’s proactive outreaches to some of the world’s most notorious political leaders, as well as his startling success at bridging the religious divide between Christians and Muslims, upset and eventually exasperated some senior American policymakers.
The result? Encountering personally the truth of his own book’s title as he experienced his own “deadly misunderstanding,” Mark was personally attacked and disparaged, culminating in a federal indictment. After nearly five years of battling alongside some of the foremost legal experts in the country to prove his innocence, yet still facing – in spite of the facts – the harrowing prospect of hostile and unrelenting prosecution for years to come, Mark resigned himself to the harsh consequences of a “negotiated” plea, resulting in a short federal prison sentence. Adding injury to insult, on the eve of his release from prison he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. These tests of Mark's faith, character, and courage provided even deeper insight into his personal journey from the heights of political achievement to the depths of personal brokenness, a brokenness that has not only refined and strengthened his character but also steeled his resolve to pursue reconciliation and build bridges of peace, no matter the cost.
Mark represented the state of Michigan for 15 years, including three terms in the United States Congress, where he served on the International Relations Middle East Subcommittee and was Ranking Member of the Africa Subcommittee. He was later appointed by President Reagan as an Ambassador (Alt. Delegate) to the United Nations in New York, where he participated as a member of the Middle East and Africa Strategy Group.
His academic achievements include a Masters Degree in Political Science, and an earned PhD in International Business. He has served on numerous boards and lectured in such diverse institutions as Oxford University, the University of Edinburgh, Khartoum University Law School, and Wheaton College. His efforts continue through Trac5, an NGO Mark founded that is committed to helping parties in conflict achieve reconciliation through the creative peacemaking model that Mark has discovered and tested over the last three decades.