By Blase Bonpane
A few months ago I met with Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and he told me of his plans to formulate a Department of Peace for the United States Government. He now has a draft of a bill to establish such a department. You can see this on his web-site:
Our response is on The Office of the Americas web-site www.officeoftheamericas.org
The congressman is asking for input from people throughout the United States. OOA has sent him its thoughts on the matter. We don't consider a Department of Peace to be a conservative/liberal issue. It is something of universal concern. We believe the time for a Department of Peace has come and that the proposal should be expressed with boldness and clarity. In our travels we see that militarism is no longer a synonym for patriotism. Our survival as a planet depends on maintaining peace and justice.
We suggested that a Department of Peace have a cooperative link with the United Nations. Clearly our Congress has had downright hostility to that international body. The League of Nations after World War I was destroyed by the action of our Senate. World War II followed. That horrible disaster would not have taken place if the League had been permitted to achieve its potential. After World War II the United Nations was formed. We must support its potential. We believe that people must globalize their consciousness. We live on a very small planet in grave danger of environmental destruction. The world military at peace is a prime danger to our environment. Should the military of the world be at war, we will encounter an entirely unsustainable situation.
It has become rare for us to find a congressional initiative that we can support. Let's get behind this project of Congressman Kucinich and work for a Department of Peace.
For some seventeen years we have sought international peace through the private diplomacy of the Office of the Americas. We would be most happy to see our objectives become institutionalized in the public sector.
Some points from a draft of the bill:
The Department of Peace shall be established at the Cabinet level of the Executive Branch of Government. It shall be enabled to strengthen non-military means of peacemaking. It shall seek to create peace, to prevent violence and to divert from armed conflict by developing new structures in non-violent dispute resolution. It shall endeavor to promote justice and democratic principles to expand human rights. It shall address matters both domestic and international in scope. It shall derive its strength from a structure which encourages initiatives from local communities, religious groups and non-governmental organizations. A Secretary of Peace shall be appointed by the President.
The Department of Peace shall develop a peace education curriculum in cooperation with the Department of Education. The Department shall provide for citizen exchanges and exchanges of legislators. It shall encourage the development of international sister cities programs.
In view of a history of over one hundred U.S. military interventions in the 20th Century the proposal may be received by some with cynicism.
I suggest that we get behind the proposal of Congressman Dennis Kucinich and that we may find that a Department of Peace is an idea whose time has come.