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Dept of Peace? No Thanks

The transition site change.gov is currently collecting citizen ideas through it’s Citizen Briefing Book at http://citizensbriefingbook.change.gov/.  If you do a search on the phrase “Department of Peace”, you’ll find a lot of ideas suggesting establishing a Department of Peace. Most of these are likely modeled on Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s idea and they seem to have a fair amount of popularity.

I’m against the idea of a Department of Peace. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an advocate of violence as a first resort. As a matter of fact, I’ve submitted my own idea that we should take 10% of DoD/Homeland Security funding and put it towards training people here and abroad in nonviolent resistance and nonviolent communication.

But I think a Department of Peace is a lousy idea for at least three reasons:

1) Such a department could easily become compartmentalized under unfriendly Presidents. Ideas out of the Peace Department would stay there, much like they currently stay in the United States Institute for Peace.  We need a process that defuses the principles and power of nonviolence throughout the government.

2) The Department would be made a mockery of itself by political appointees of unfriendly Presidents. Couldn’t you just see Paul Wolfowitz being appointed to the post in 2017 by President Gingrich? And then Wolfowitz saying the best way to bring about peace was through a strong counterinsurgency program?

3) The formation of the nightmare Department of Homeland Security should have taught us the unwisdom of trying to knit together a disparate set of agencies under one roof. Let’s not do it again.

The impulse is a good one. Nonviolence has a lot of power. Nonviolent resistance freed India from British rule, rescued Jews in Holland during WW2, brought African-Americans civil rights in the United States and brought down the Communist governments of Eastern Europe. But I think rather than creating yet one more government agency, we should be working with existing institutions like the US Institute of Peace, the Community Policing initiative in Justice and the various national service components of this nation to train people in ways to meet their needs without resorting to violence.  Nonviolence can be done. It has been done. Yes we can.

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2 Responses

  1. A Department of Peace sounds like something from Orwell’s “1984.”

  2. In the book 1984, there is a “Ministry of Peace.” But since one of the tenets of that society was “War is Peace”, I suspect that its mission was to carry out military missions, the opposite of what Rep. Kucinich proposes.

    The television show Babylon 5 portrayed a future one world government on Earth with a Ministry of Peace whose official duties seem somewhat closer to what is currently envisioned for a Department of Peace. But the way they’re carried out in Babylon 5 mirrors my criticism of the current proposal. Without a government wide commitment to nonviolence, a “ministry/dept of peace” becomes yet another way to wage violence by other means.

    BTW, I wouldn’t put too much stock or fear into a name. The USA PATRIOT Act isn’t faithful to the values of our founders and we’ve been much more aggressive as a nation since our “War Department” was transformed into the “Defense Department” after 1947.

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