Peace Now!

The US government doesn’t seem inclined to back off its all-war, all-the-time policy. It’s even got some of us thinking about war too much of the time. Me, anyhow.
It’s time we thought more about peace, isn’t it? . . .Down By The Riverside.

    Gonna lay down my sword and shield
    Down by the riverside
    Down by the riverside
    Down by the riverside
    Gonna lay down my sword and shield
    Down by the riverside
    Ain’t gonna study war no more.
    I ain’t gonna study war no more,
    I ain’t gonna study war no more,
    Study war no more.
    I ain’t gonna study war no more,
    I ain’t gonna study war no more,
    Study war no more.

Doing a little research, I learned that there is a United States Institute of Peace! Who knew? Perhaps you did, but I didn’t. And apparently I’m not the only one, judging from the title of this NY Times article from last June: Below the Radar: A Federal Peace Agency

Here’s some background on the USIP:
USIP’s Mission and Goals

    The United States Institute of Peace is an independent, nonpartisan, national institution established and funded by Congress. Its goals are to help:
    * Prevent and resolve violent international conflicts
    * Promote post-conflict stability and development
    * Increase conflict management capacity, tools, and intellectual capital worldwide
    The Institute does this by empowering others with knowledge, skills, and resources, as well as by directly engaging in peacebuilding efforts around the globe.

Early Origins

    The Institute’s origins date to the earliest days of the Republic. The idea for the establishment of an official U.S. government institution dedicated to the cause of international peace can be traced back to debates by the framers of the U.S. Constitution. The first formal proposal for the establishment of an official U.S. government peace institution dates to 1792. The product of efforts by architect and publisher Benjamin Banneker and physician and educator Dr. Benjamin Rush, the proposal called for establishing a “Peace Office” on equal footing with the War Department—noting the importance to the welfare of the United States of “an office for promoting and preserving perpetual peace in our country.”
    Over the years, the idea of an official U.S. peace institute continued to be advocated by a wide array of prominent Americans, including Woodrow Wilson, Jennings Randolph, and Everett Dirksen. In fact, from 1935 to 1976 over 140 bills were introduced in Congress to establish various peace-related departments, agencies, bureaus, and committees of Congress.

A firm beginning:

    In 1976, the first cornerstone for the campaign that led to the creation of the U.S. Institute of Peace was laid when Senator Vance Hartke of Indiana and Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon introduced a bill to create the George Washington Peace Academy. After hearings in the Senate on the Hartke-Hatfield bill, it was decided that further study was needed. In 1979, a provision was successfully added to the Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriation Bill for the establishment of the Commission on Proposals for the National Academy of Peace and Conflict Resolution.
    A nonpartisan group consisting of appointees named by President Jimmy Carter and the leadership of the House and Senate, the Commission worked for over a year and half. Chaired by Senator Spark Matsunaga of Hawaii, the Matsunaga Commission, as it came to be known, conducted a wide survey and study of the theories, techniques, and institutions involved in the resolution of international conflicts. The commission met with military and government officials, leading educators, conflict resolution professionals, and representatives from various religious, ethnic, and scientific communities. In addition to these sessions, the commission heard from thousands of interested citizens through a series of public meetings held across the nation that resulted in over 6,000 pages of transcripts.

The Institute was established —

    In 1981, after the completion of its deliberations, the Matsunaga Commission issued a final report recommending the creation of a national peace academy. Based upon the recommendations included in the report, bills were subsequently introduced in both houses of Congress under the bipartisan sponsorship of Senators Mark Hatfield, Spark Matsunaga, and Jennings Randolph and Congressman Dan Glickman.
    A vigorous public campaign led by Milton C. Mapes of the National Peace Academy Campaign supported these efforts. After considerable debate about the appropriate form of the new institution, the United States Institute of Peace Act was finally passed and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
    The Institute’s Board of Directors was installed in February 1986 and held its first meeting. In April of that same year, an initial staff of three people opened the Institute’s first office at 730 Jackson Place NW, Washington, D.C.

The Building

    The Institute is constructing a headquarters building at the northwest corner of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The new building will be a working headquarters for the Institute and a national center for advancing the study and practice of peacebuilding. The site—steps away from the Lincoln, World War II, Korean, and Vietnam Veterans memorials—will house a Public Education Center, a research library and archives, classrooms, and a world-class conference center.

I’ve signed up to receive periodic USIP information. You can too by going here.
There are a lot of other peace organizations around, including Jimmy Carter‘s and Willie Nelson‘s. I’ll be covering some of them in subsequent Peace Now! articles.
What do you think?
Don Bacon is a retired army officer who founded the Smedley Butler Society several years ago because, as General Butler said, war is a racket.

7 thoughts on “Peace Now!”

  1. What a concept eh? And it was first funded, during the Reagan era. Bob Turner was USIP’s first president. And surprise surprise, I was one of the first “Peace Scholars”….
    Oh and it’s been a political hot potato often times…. still is. (alas) But it’s got much going for it. During the Bushist years, he tried to pack the USIP board with, um, folks not exactly known for their advocacy of peaceful resolution of conflicts. (e.g. Daniel Pipes) Yet tah dah, partly thanks to principled boycotts of USIP (yup) by “friends,” that nomination was never confirmed…. and DP served just a year.
    down by the riverside.
    Alas, I make a habit of studying war & conflict — to get to the other side.

  2. I think that the USIP must have a life-size statue of Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, USMC, double recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor at the very front of its new building at the northwest corner of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. And that it must be lit for all to see twenty-four hours a day, throughout the darkest nights of our nation’s soul.
    And it must have a plaque set with type large enough for anyone of us to read without her or his glasses quoting Smedly Butler:
    “I spent 33 years and 4 months in active service as a member of our country’s most agile military force–the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from second lieutenant to Major General.
    And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers.
    In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism.
    I suspected I was part of a racket all the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all members of the military profession I never had an original thought until I left the service.”
    Smedley D. Butler (1881-1940)
    As far as lyrics go these, written by Bob Dylan, and sung by Jerry Garcia rend my heart :
    Come take this badge off of me
    I won’t wear it any more
    Now the sun is setting over me
    And I feel like I’m knocking on heaven’s door
    Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door
    Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door
    Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door
    Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door
    Come put these guns in the ground
    I can’t shoot them any more
    The sun is going down
    And I believe I’m knocking on heaven’s door
    Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door
    Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door
    Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door
    Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door
    Come wipe these tears from my eyes
    I can’t shed them any more
    The sun is setting in the western sky
    People, I believe I must be knocking on heaven’s door
    Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door
    Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door
    Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door
    Just like so many times before
    Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door
    Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door
    Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door
    Just like so many times before
    This incarnation of Imerial America is at an End. Our nation is a deadman walking. It is only medullan denial that keeps us putting one foot in front of the other, like a headless chicken in a barnyard.
    Let us start work now preparing for our rebirth, manifestly and blessedly poorer in the material scheme of things. After the initial shock, when the realization that the impossible has occured and we ourselves yet live in a grave new world, let us find then that some of us have repaired and strengthened our foundation, and joining together, rally round and raise slowly and carefully and join the beams that will support our rise from our own ashes.
    Our nation’s talismans have been the badge and the gun since the end of WWII. In the new era rapidly arriving, wily nily, lets us discover that not only do we need no stinkin’ badges, but that we need no stinkin’ guns either.

  3. Let’s hope USIP goes better under Obama than it did under Bush.
    There’s a guy called Sam Parker, who’s their Iraq officer, or possibly one of them. The main feature of his CV is that he reads Arabic, which tells you a lot about other experts on Iraq.
    Nevertheless, he was one of the bête noirs of last year. Into COIN. Went on a trip to Iraq last summer, fully facilitated by the US embassy, and the US military. Otherwise, he couldn’t have travelled all round the country, which he says he did. (You note that someone like Juan Cole, whatever you think of his opinions, is a genuinely independent scholar, and has not been on US-funded and -facilitated trips around Iraq. In his case, it would have been slightly better if he had actually visited Iraq). Nevertheless, Parker came back dripping talking points straight from the seminar rooms of the US embassy. How Maliki was ready to fold on the SOFA, Iraqi politics was only a matter of internal power conflicts. Funny how, against all expectation, Maliki persisted until nearly the end of the year, and the withdrawal agreement signed was really pretty good for Iraq. That wasn’t at all in Parker’s analyses.
    I don’t know myself about other USIP officers, but Parker’s not a good sign.

  4. Trojan Alert,7340,L-3663679,00.html
    Does Helena count as a problematic blog?
    While the Absorption Ministry is tasked with recruitment, the Foreign Ministry will be responsible for directing the volunteers online. Each time the ministry identifies an anti-Israel trend on a foreign-language blog, news site, or other website, it will immediately put out a message to the volunteers to flood the site with pro-Israel opinions
    That bug in the posting mechanism will drive them to distraction.
    They could do more for israeli PR if their crooked Prime Minister and bloodthirsty Foreign Minister didn’t promise to deliver a disproportionate response to a few rockets from Gaza. That probably counts as a war crime.

  5. Let’s hope USIP goes better under Obama than it did under Bush.
    Not too likely.
    Before he is even inaugurated Obama decides to escalate the war on Afghanistan.
    Before he is even elected Obama makes it clear (although not in his campaign P.R) that he has no intention of ending the occupation of Iraq. Now he is speaking not of a withdrawal, but of asking his commanders to look into a possible “drawdown”. He indicates that he intends to leave perhaps 60,000 troops in place in Iraq indefinitely – precisely what some of us have been trying to tell people since early in the primary campaign.
    Three days after the inauguration Obama bombs two sites inside Pakistan, reportedly killing mostly civilians, including children.
    Israel ignores Obama’s statement that the siege of Gaza must be lifted, does nothing.
    Within two weeks of his inauguration there are signs that Obama may be preparing for military action against Somalia.
    Obama decides to continue, and possibly expand the horrific, and almost certainly criminal practice of extraordinary rendition.
    Business as usual for the USA.
    What next?

  6. Scott,
    I note with alarm that Robert Turner, USIP’s first president, is a member (as is Daniel Pipes) of the Committee on the Present Danger. YIKES!!
    The Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), a Cold War-era, anti-Soviet group, was resurrected in June 2004 by group of hardline policy figures, including many neoconservatives who were members of the 1970s-era CPD, to support an aggressive “war on terror.”
    A proponent of a long-term U.S. military commitment in Iraq, the CPD and its members have also been outspoken in their support for aggressive U.S. action against Iran and have helped push the idea of intervention against Tehran into the national spotlight.
    Writing about the membership of CPD and its links to the 1970s version CPD, Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service observed: “A number of members of the new CPD, including [Max] Kampelman, Kemp, Kirkpatrick, [Joshua] Muravchik, Gaffney, and Woolsey himself, overlap with the membership of the advisory boards of the Likud-oriented Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Middle East Forum, or the U.S. Committee for a Free Lebanon.

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