Sunday, December 04, 2005

Date: Sun, 04 Dec 2005 01:11:02 -0500
   From: "Linda Henderson" <>
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
deals with
U.S. interests abroad, often
in the interest of
U.S. businesses. The
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. For
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
Peace Academy as
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
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:
To get involved locally you may contact me at:
 Linda Henderson, State Coordinator
Department of Peace, Michigan Campaign
MSU Class of '78, Thomas M. Cooley, J.D.

Published in Volume 4, Issue 3, December 1, 2005
Peaceful Solution
Is it time to give a National Department of Peace, a chance?
by Steve Patterson <>
 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 
the U.S. government for an alternative method for handling conflict 
- 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."
--Gwen Hill
The state of Michigan has become one of several focal points for the 
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 Iraq," said Hill. "This is incorrect."
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 Iraq war, we might never have 
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 Iraq, while peace protests and anti-war 
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 America become the evil empire?
 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 
proper footing.
 On 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 Minnesota. There are 
activist groups in more than 280 Congressional Districts in 48 states 
and now activist groups in every Congressional District in Michigan.
 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 
Academy that would train people in peace and peacemaking strategies, 
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 U.S. casualties 
in a wartime situation. Many are wondering why nothing like this 
had never been done before. Why has it taken America, the world's 
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."
--Dave Coogan
 "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 
the United States government should be spending money on a 
Department of Peace," said Coogan. "The problem isn't that peace 
is a bad idea…the problem is the Department of Peace would be 
completely ineffective."
"This campaign gives rise to a renewed level of good citizenship.
Peace is what our citizens want."
  --Gwen Hill
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 Iraq is costing us approximately 
$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 United States
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, Vietnam and Iraq. The Department of 
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 
really want."
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 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.