Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Monday, December 12, 2005
Exciting News From Puerto Rico!
Dot Maver and Patty Roeding have been in
Puerto Rico this week speaking about and
networking for the Department of Peace
campaign at the Alliance for a New Humanity
conference. Marianne Williamson and Congressman
Dennis Kucinich were also present as keynote
At the conclusion of the conference, on
International Human Rights Day, December 10,
2005, conference participants, representing
hundreds of organizations from around the
world, voted in favor of a resolution
endorsing a U.S. Department of Peace.
Following the vote, Deepak Chopra, founder of
the Alliance for a New Humanity, applauded the
resolution, saying it will now go to the
White House and President George W. Bush,
as well as to the Senate and House of Representatives.
In the course of the conference, people from several
countries approached Dot expressing interest in
the international initiative and launching
or getting in touch with campaigns for departments
and ministries of peace in their countries,
including people from Palestine, Israel, Sri Lanka,
Australia, Canada, Japan, Denmark, Germany, and others.
For the U.S. campaign, we are preparing a formal
press release with this news, which should go out
That spotlight of peace is shining brighter and
brighter every day!
Friday, December 09, 2005
Thank you, windy city!
ROBERT C. KOEHLER
For release 12/8/05
FLICKERING DREAMS OF PEACE
By Robert C. Koehler
Tribune Media Services
Ever try to shift a paradigm? I salute the brave souls
scattered around the continent - some of them are in
Congress - who are doing just that, who are daring,
right now, to challenge the conventional wisdom of
war and peace at the highest levels at which the game
of geopolitics is played, and are calling for the
establishment of a Cabinet-level Department of Peace.
When long-time correspondent Bill Bhaneja, a senior
research fellow at the University of Ottawa and
retired Canadian diplomat, recently e-mailed me
the proposal he co-authored with Saul Arbess for such
an addition to Canada's government - inspired by
U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich's H.R. 3760 - I confess
to a queasy skepticism that such a project was just
too darn idealistic.
Then I thought about bird flu - and George Bush's
wild musings two months ago about combating it
with National Guard troops, that is, by implementing
martial law to enforce quarantines. This from the
man who has "degraded" (in the words of one high-
level health official) the nation's public health
system and underfunded and politicized every branch
of government created to deal with national emergencies.
And it hit me with a jolt: The level of public
awareness is deteriorating. We're now whelping
leaders who haven't got a clue how to deal with
complex social issues except to start shooting at them.
And there's no adequate challenge to this in the media
or from the opposition party, and apparently no public
context big enough even to allow for debate.
For instance, there was Hillary Clinton the other day
telling potential supporters of her run for the
presidency, who I'd wager are against the war by a
large margin, that the United States must "finish
what it started" in Iraq, as though there's a consensus
what, exactly, we started and what "finishing" it would
mean, and how many more deadIraqis and U.S. servicemen
we might expect before we attain our
It was sheer politician-speak, in other words, betraying
no courageous intelligence, no insight that our brutal
occupation might be fueling the insurgency and creating
the terrorists we're obliged to keeping fighting. But
the media have already pegged Hillary a frontrunner,
which means they're condemning America's anti-war majority,
once again, to a campaign season without a presidential
candidate who represents their ardent hopes.
This is intolerable. This is why I support and heartily
endorse what is, in fact, a global movement to raise
awareness by challenging the blood-myths of the nation-
state and the inevitability of war, and the geopolitical
canard extraordinaire that high-tech, high-kill, earth-
poisoning modern wars have any chance of achieving
controllable ends and do not spew incalculable suffering
and future wars in their wake.
"What we seek," write Bhaneja and Arbess, "is a world in
which peaceful relations between states are a systematically
pursued norm and that the numerous non-aggression pacts
between states become treaties of mutual support and
collaboration. We envision a world in which a positive
peace prevails as projected most recently in the U.N.
International Decade for a Culture of Peace (2001-2010)
Programme of Action."
The establishment of a peace academy, the training of
peace workers, the promotion of nonviolent conflict
resolution at every level of human interaction -
there's no reason why such projects should be nothing
more than the flickering dreams of protestors at
candlelight vigils. There's no reason why they should
not be the business of government. I have no doubt
whatsoever that the public is ready to move beyond
the barbarism history has bequeathed us, and would do
so in an eye blink if enough respected voices said,
"Now is the time." And respected voices are saying
this, if only we could hear them.
"What is quite clear - and would become clear as you
go along with this campaign - is that you are trying,
and I consider myself with you on this in every way . . .
(to create) not only a massive but a basic change in
our culture, in our entire approach to our relationships
with other human beings. . . . It's not a matter of simply
getting another department of government. You're speaking
of an entire philosophical revolution."
This is Walter Cronkite, in conversation with Kucinich last
September at a Department of Peace conference in Washington,
D.C. Kucinich, the hero of this movement, first introduced
Department of Peace legislation in 2001. The bill now has
some 60 sponsors in theHouse and, in September, was
introduced in the Senate (S. 1756) by Mark Dayton of Minnesota.
The architects of the war on terror have minds stuck in old
paradigms of domination and conquest. Their enemy is always
the same:Evil Incarnate. Today's jihadist was yesterday's
Communist, playing the same game of dominos.
This war is doomed to create nothing but losers, and more
and more people - including many who are in or close to
the military, such as Jack Murtha - are grasping this.
As they wake up, the Department of Peace will be waiting for them.
- - -
Robert Koehler, an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist,
is an editor at Tribune Media Services and nationally
syndicated writer. You can respond to this column at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his Web site at commonwonders.com.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Sun, 04 Dec 2005-0500
From: "Linda Henderson" <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: National Dept of Peace, Patterson article.
To The Editor:
I would like to write in appreciation of the attention
your paper has given to the the legislation now pending
in the U.S. Congress in consideration of creating a
cabinet level Department of Peace in the Executive
Branch of our federal govenment. Specifically, I
would like to respond to Dave Coogan's statement
regarding his belief that such a department would
be "completely ineffective":
1. This rather dismissive statement is a mere
conclusion not supported by fact. It seems to
be presented more from the perspective of his
political affiliation and ideological bias
(College Republicans) than from any sound reason.
The facts seem to more readily support that our
present means of dealing with violence at home
and abroad are not working...regardless of who
is the "ruling" party. This proposed department
is a transpartisan concept. It does, however,
require that the governed and the government
evolve. I for one am not so skeptical that
this cannot be done. This is a democracy,
and we are a species given the gift of free
will...we can and will do whatever we decide
to so do. A more intelligent direction than
what we currently employ would seem to me a
good use of our free will.
2. From a cost/benefit analysis, this
legislation is more practical and timely
than any effort now being employed. Wasn't
it Einstein himself who advised that we
cannot solve a problem from the same
consciousness that created it? Not
unlike the concept of preventative
medicine, if we address violence at the
front end of the equation...we will not
be required to spend so much of our tax
dollars on violence manifest.
3. What's all this I hear about
"VALUES"? You would think, after the
last election cycle, when we heard so
much about values, that we would be
mindful of how many lives have been
lost because we did not value them
quite as much as we valued our need
to react to our own fears. Over two
thousand of our own people killed,
countless others maimed, "collateral
damage" for years to come for
countless families, tens of thousands
of Iraqi citizens killed in the name
of saving them from that bad man Sadam.
Al Qaida is now part of the norm in
. There is an estimated 80%
unemployment in that country while
Halliburton is making a "killing".
Here at home, school children are
killing and being killed, women are
battered, police are at highest risk
in responding to domestic violence,
prisons are overflowing, schools are
closing, racial and homophobic violence
continues to rear it's ugly head. And
when these things happen usually our
answer is to commission another study.
Might it be valuable to do our study
before the violence happens?
4. Too much bureuacracy? NO...just
a shift in bureaucracy. The simple
truth is that the State Department
interests abroad, often U.S.
in the interest of
businesses. The U.S.
Secretary of State can negotiate with
heads of state, and usually does so
only after an issue arises. A
Department of Peace would have as it
sole mission proactively researching
and addressing the underlying causal
elements to violence abroad.
instance, we knew for decades the
environment that was festering in
and did nothing. Would
it not have been beneficial to have
someone at the table (cabinet)
advocating and advising regarding
the likely outcome that such an
environment would become a breeding
ground for terrorism? We may have
stemmed that tide for a fraction of
the human and financial cost expended
thus far. At a minimum, we likely
would have mitigated our damages had
we taken a more proactive role in
preventative measures. The State Dept
has some ad hoc programs that deal in
these terms, just as do the Departments
of Education, Defense, Homeland Security,
Environmental Protection Agency, etc.
None of them are given priority status,
and none of them create the national
intention a Department of Peace would
create, nor give uniformity, funding
and priority to all of the existing
programs in our local and state governments.
5. Readiness and Training. The Department
of Peace would create a
as Peace Academy
a sister institution to the existing
military academies. America has many
people who are ready to step into roles
training military and civilian students
in proven techniques of non-violent
communication skills who could be sent
into any given environment before, during
and post conflict. In addition, this
academy would address education in
language and culture arts that would
give soldiers and civil servants the
tools necessary to truly have credible
communication with peoples from other
countries. Every school in our country
should have curriculum that employs this
skill. Teaching non-conflict resolution
prevents the weeds of violence fromtaking
root. That we will continue to have
conflict as human beings is plain enough...
to learn how to "agree to disagree"
without the use of violence while we are
promoting our own positions is essential
to our survival.
6. Democracy requires that whatever form
of govenmental institutions we create
must be held accountable by citizens to
do the task they were created to do.
Do we do that now? No. One only need
look at what's become of the EPA.
Does that mean we should not have an EPA...no.
Itmeans we must evolve as a citizenery to
recognize that we have a vested interest
in seeing to it politics are...the citizens,
by action or omission to act, have to take
the ultimate responsibility for the government
that exists at any given time. One hopes that
when the citizens of this country realize the
need for a Department of Peace to the extent
that their elected Representatives will be
compelled to comply with their wishes, that
we will have also come to the collective
realization that we will have to maintain our
investment in sustaining a non-violent
environment by our vigilance in seeing
the intentions of such a department be honored.
Let me quote a very wise woman who proffered
the golden rule thusly: "Do unto others as
you would have them do unto you....because
they will". With the weapons available
which are capable of anihilating the species,
and people who are willing to kill themselves
in the pursuit of their beliefs/causes, the
concept of creating a Department of Peace is
the most sane, practical and productive effort
I have seen promoted in my lifetime.That is why
I volunteer my time to coordinate the State of
's effort to lobby for passage of these
bills. I hope you will join me. We not only
have the potential to change the world, we
have the present capacity to do so. For more
information, please contact: www.thepeacealliance.org.
To get involved locally you may contact me at:
Linda Henderson, State Coordinator
Department of Peace,
MSU Class of '78, Thomas M. Cooley, J.D.
P.S. GO GREEN!
Published in Volume 4, Issue 3,
December 1, 2005
Is it time to give a National Department of Peace, a chance?
by Steve Patterson <http://www.thebiggreen.net/info.php?staff=142>
On any given whim, our country has the destructive power profound
enough to utterly obliterate any other nation in the world. But
just because we can, doesn't mean we should.
Bernard K. Doyle, Jr., a retired U.S. Army officer, served 27 years as
An infantryman. Although he gives his full support to the military and
sympathizes with the men overseas, Doyle said he no longer condones
war as a solution. "I am aware of lobbying and movements at present
and in the past that have been developed to end war, something that
will not catch on quickly in this nation and other nation states,
" said Doyle. "However, it appears to me that the loss of women,
children, old people and institutions such as churches, museums,
power plants water sources and the likes make the people of a
country suffer beyond the aims of war."
We, as Americans, are protected by the most powerful military on the
planet. A comforting thought? Many are beginning to think not.
Throughout MSU and across the nation, Americans are crying out to
government for an alternative method for handling conflict U.S.
- many Americans are crying out for peace. "Our national constitution
is built on equality and fairness. We need to be reminded of that.
We need to develop peaceful alternatives to conflict."
The state of
has become one of several focal points for the Michigan
Peace mission and the suggested Department of Peace. Gwen Hill, the
Department of Peace's Congressional Team Leader for the 9th district
of Michigan does her part everyday to spread the word about what the
proposed organization would, and does, stand for.
"This is legislation that is meant to last longer than any one war
or administration," said Hill. "We live at a time when we all see
the level of violence that permeates our lives and our communities.
One glance at the headline stories on TV news reports is enough to
understand that violence threatens to overtake our intentions. It's
wearing us out."
And the movement isn't just about that war overseas. "Many people
Believe that the movement for a Department of Peace is a response
to the war in
," said Hill. "This is incorrect." Iraq
Hypothetically, the war serves as an arena for the Department of
Peace movement itself. What would the Department of Peace do to
help the situation? While certainly the proposed department's
attention span isn't limited to war situations including the
controversial one in Iraq, it gives a good launching pad for
discussion on just how the Department of Peace would respond.
Doyle, having served time for his country, expressed his concerns
about the current situation. "I believe that now, deeply ensconced
in a war we are extending ourselves beyond our means and dollars,"
the veteran said. "People are now beginning to question the validity
of this war and its toll of more than 2,000 of our young men and
women. People are unsure of the outcome -withdrawal when and how, t
he timing - when will it stop?"
Some wonder if a Department of Peace could have kept the war from
Escalating to 2,000 deaths. "If a Secretary of Peace had been a
part of the Cabinet prior to the
war, we might never have Iraq
entered a war of these proportions," said Hill. "We might have
had a clear, exit strategy that promoted peace between our nations.
We might not be creating four new terrorists in the families of
every one terrorist that we kill. There might be fewer people in the
world who hate us for our disrespect of cultural norms and our
violent aggression toward countries whose cultures are not
westernized to our liking."
Despite the lack of anything that resembles a peace department in
our nation's contemporary government, this is not the first time a
concept of this nature has been announced. In fact, propositions of a
governmental peace agency have dated back to discussions among
framers of the Constitution. Throughout American history, the
notion of having something on this scale has been brought up
several times, resurging in the minds of revolutionary officials
but having no real momentum.
That is, until now.
Dissipating poll numbers are beginning to show a growing unrest
towards the war in
, while peace protests and anti-war Iraq
demonstrations litter the nation each year. More importantly,
the rest of the world grumbles with a critical tongue and glares
with a disparaging eye. When did
become the evil empire? America
The first formal proposal for the establishment of a U.S.
Department Of Peace dates to 1792, when architect/publisher
Benjamin Banneker and physician/educator Dr. Benjamin Rush proposed
the idea. The initiative was for a "Peace Office" that was to be
equal with the "War Office," however the concept never received
July 11, 2001, Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced
legislation to create a cabinet level agency dedicated to
peacemaking and the study of conditions that are conducive to peace.
Hill said that progress was being made in getting the bill passed
through congress. She further explained that there are now 60
Congressional co-sponsors of this legislation. There is a bill on
the floor of the House (House Bill # H.R. 3760) and within the past
few weeks, a similar bill was introduced on the floor of the Senate
(Senate Bill # S.1756) by Sen. Mark Dayton of
. There are Minnesota
activist groups in more than 280 Congressional Districts in 48 states
and now activist groups in every Congressional District in
This is the potential Department of Peace: a theoretical executive
branch cabinet that would handle all matters in foreign and
domestic conflict resolution. The bill also provides for a
Peace that would train people in peace and peacemaking strategies, Academy
just as our military academies train students in military strategies.
With conflicts and crisis around the world, the proposed organization
Would act as an alternate solution for the loss of
in a wartime situation. Many are wondering why nothing like this
had never been done before. Why has it taken
, the world's America
foremost "superpower," to think of a peaceful organization in times
of conflict resolution that is commonly solved by the gun?
"The problem isn't that peace is a bad idea...the problem is the
Department of Peace would be completely ineffective."
"At the International level, the bill provides for a Secretary of
Peace on par with the Secretary of Defense," said Hill. "When
cabinet members meet to respond to an international conflict, the
Peace Secretary would put peace options on the table for discussion
and make recommendations to the President."
Hill said that in a war situation, a Peace Secretary would provide
Input from peace building experts on how to begin a war with peace
outcomes integrated into the strategy. "In this way, we can show
the world that a desire for peaceful coexistence is central to
American operations abroad," she said.
The Department would not just be an agency on the international
level but a worldwide organization that deals with many fronts,
including state, local and domestic issues. Hill explained that on
the domestic level, the bill provides for trained peace experts to
present options for making and maintaining peace in response to
conflict that occurs within our nation and at the local level, the
bill funds a way to coordinate the application of best practices
of the many local organizations that respond to violence and
conflict in our cities and towns.
"Imagine, for example, local police departments that are burdened
with responding to domestic violence complaints would be able to
easily initiate a coordinated community response that included
family counseling, violence prevention strategies, conflict
resolution strategies, etc," said Hill.
"Families with repeated domestic violence issues could be served in
ways that can prevent serious injury, murder or jail time. The
savings to our communities would be significant."
While Hill's enthusiasm for a more basic solution is understandable,
Many disagree that an organization is required for that purpose.
Dave Coogan, the second vice chair of the College Republicans and
international relations junior, is decidedly skeptical about this
affair. "The domestic solutions the Department of Peace is supposed
to provide are already handled at the local level," he said.
"The Department of Peace is going to address problems like drug and
alcohol abuse, spousal and child abuse, civil rights, sister-city
programs and animal abuse. I can assure you that your city and
state government is going to handle these problems better than the
federal government." Coogan is also weary of the financial costs
the department would bring. "If I remember right, the Department
of Peace budget would be almost $10 billion. I don't think that
government should be spending money on a United States
Department of Peace," said Coogan. "The problem isn't that peace
is a bad idea…the problem is the Department of Peace would be
"This campaign gives rise to a renewed level of good citizenship.
Peace is what our citizens want."
The ultimate decision could rest solely on this pivotal matter.
"The proposed budget for a Department of Peace and Nonviolence would
be only 2 percent of the budget of the Department of Defense in
any given year," said Hill. We know that effective, preventive
measures save money. The war in
is costing us approximately Iraq
$1 billion each week. Without an exit strategy, who knows how long
this astronomical drain on our economy will last?"
Once aptly named the War Department before 1947, the
Department of Defense's budget exceeds approximately $425 billion a
year(not including the tens of billions more in supplemental
expenditures allotted by Congress) and since its birth has waged
major campaigns in
, Korea and Vietnam . The Department of Iraq
Defense includes the combined powers of Army, Navy, Air Force and
Marines as well as non-combat agencies such as the National Security
Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Coogan was adamant about his opposition to the proposed organization,
stating that most of the international issues that the Department of
Peace will deal with are handled by the Department of State. "The
Department of Peace being a counter to the Department of Defense…
not going to happen," he said. "Even if the Secretary of Peace was
on the National Security Council, he or she would still be one of
the President's supporters. They would not be bringing an
alternative policy perspective to the discussion."
This is another problem facing the proposition…do we really need
Something that could so easily be covered by another faction? While
this is a major question, Doyle reminds us that there is no attempt
at issues such as these. He said it could be to the nation's
ultimate benefit to have one organization in charge of handling
conflict decisions. "I do not see the Department of Peace
conflicting with the Department of Defense but rather being
an alter ego for it and the entire government," the former
soldier said. "Our national constitution is built on equality
and fairness. We need to be reminded of that. A Department of Peace
would make that more evident. We need to develop peaceful
alternatives to conflict."
With all the praise and opposition, the Department of Peace is
either a saving grace for world and domestic issues or a doomed
ideological venture-and a costly one at that. "I think it would just
be a costly government office that would make people like
Martin Luther King Assistant Secretary to Civil Rights," said
Coogan. "He would then be working in the government bureaucracy
instead of creating change in the street."
Expressing overall thoughts on who we are as a people and what the
organization could mean for us as a whole, Hill said, "It's you and
me and our neighbors being responsible and responsive citizens.
This campaign gives rise to a renewed level of good citizenship.
Peace is what our citizens want. The Department of Peace and
Nonviolence Campaign gives ordinary citizens the opportunity to
learn about how legislation get passed. It gives us a vehicle to
make a meaningful contribution toward the kind of society Americans
She continued, "What Americans are learning is that our democracy
does not work without us. Our democracy is meant to be by the
people, of the people and for the people. The 'people' is us."
It is easy for any MSU student to get involved with the program.
Go to www.thepeacealliance.org and request to find a point person
in your area. From there you will be permanently signed up on the
Department of Peace mailing list and will receive e-mails from the
leader in your area.
*Steve Patterson can be reached at
Copyright 2003-2005 The Big Green. All Rights Reserved.
Friday, December 02, 2005
We need another investigation"The spirit we have, not the work we do, is what makes us important to the people around us."
By Joan Chittister, OSB
That this country is divided over the situation in
Polling results are clear: The U.S. population has lost its commitment to the war in
When and how
Some people think
If the question seems to lack meaning, think Hurricane Katrina -- the damage it did, the money it is costing, the social insecurity it has spawned, the dispersion of peoples it has generated, the years of recovery it presages, the change it implies for the rest of the country as well as for
Economically, politically, socially,
Point: Three years later and things are not better there.
The only problem is that this time a hurricane didn't do it. War did it. What Saddam Hussein didn't manage to ruin in
The writing of a constitution is no substitute for the reconstruction of the country. What good is a new constitution if the seeds of civil war -- or worse -- are embedded in the social environment in which it is meant to function.
Other elements of the
From this perspective, we are creating what we say we are resisting.
No wonder we're confounded. No wonder we're divided. Both arguments are cogent. Each argument has its point, its truth, its valor -- whatever a person's personal reaction to war in general or this war in particular.
But that mental disarray is precisely what may finally bring us to the real question. The White House may have been wrong from the very start of this debacle but where was the Congress?
Everything in the country is being investigated these days: campaign finances, public security, immigration policies, the intelligence community, violations of confidentiality at the highest levels of the government. Maybe it is time to investigate whatever has happened to the whole concept of "checks and balances," of congressional debate, of political perspective.
While millions of people around the globe marched in the streets against the invasion of Iraq -- millions in the United States itself, while the British Parliament split over the decision to declare war on Iraq and two cabinet members resigned over the decision, while France and Germany, the United Nations and most of the rest of the world asked for more time, more involvement, more assurance, more proof to justify an assault on a sovereign nation, the Congress of the United States steadfastly saluted in front of TV cameras and hummed "Hail to the Chief." No cautions given. No conditions defined. No real debate mounted.
But the American people don't elect Boy Scouts, they elect Senators and Representatives to scrutinize national legislation, to examine national policies, to consider national alternatives, to declare wars.
"Patriotism" is no substitute for Congressional responsibility. Loyalty does not supercede accountability. We do not elect senators and representatives to "get behind the president in times of war." We elect them to get behind the Constitution, to get behind the country, to get behind the arguments, to get behind the administration spin on whether we should be in a war or not. And when. And how. And for what real purposes.
"Victory will be achieved," the president said again at the
Heaven forbid. If it is "unpatriotic," "political," "un-American" to even suggest that war is not a proper course of action when a president suggests a full-scale invasion of another country, it must surely be treasonous to suggest it four years, billions of dollars, thousands of dead, and hundreds of thousands of wounded and displaced later.
It is now clear that George Bush wanted a war with
Where is the Congress now?
Someone, somewhere ought surely to investigate why it is that our vaunted "system of checks and balances" did not work in this case, in fact does not even seem to attempt to work even now.
From where I stand, it looks as if the millions of citizens who stood in the streets in an attempt to stop this war simply went home far too soon.