Creating a US Department of Peace

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: Government And Politics Views: 2238

Peace is a chant, a vibration, a leap of the human spirit into the 21st century and beyond. It's also HR 808 - radical common sense crafted into a bill and introduced this week into the new Congress by Dennis Kucinich.

Let me describe for you, as best I can in this brief space, the heave of emotion this piece of legislation and the campaign to support it have set off in me the past few days. For this I thank and blame the Peace Alliance, which held a conference in D.C. over the weekend in support of the bill - well, it was half conference, fact-dense and nitty-gritty, brimming with info on bullying and suicide and war; and half revival, alive with music and global religion, full of God and Buddha and the spirit of the Founding Fathers and Gandhi and Martin Luther King and Jane Addams and Susan B. Anthony and many others.

By the time the Rev. Michael Beckwith - this was on Sunday morning, a day and a half into it - invoked the idea of "a world that works for everybody," I felt an unbearable cry from the private depths of my heart: I believe! I believe! The cry pushed ferociously against an almost equal disbelief and I felt split in two - but maybe giving birth is always like that.

That morning, the main headline in the Washington Post read: "At Least 125 Killed in Blast at Baghdad Market." This is so clearly not a world that works for everybody, and it's so clearly getting worse. "A suicide bomber detonated more than a ton of explosives in a market in central Baghdad late Saturday afternoon. . . . 'It's like a slaughterhouse. You can see blood everywhere. It's an unbelievable sight.'"

Peace is not a lull between bomb blasts. But to envision the world that Beckwith and others at the conference invoked - to compress hope into a rending certainty that such a world is possible as well as necessary - peels away the numbness and cynicism that lets us live in this one. No wonder so few people are embracing it.

And yet that's not true at all. A yearning for peace is at everyone's core, and the recognition of our complex, planetary interdependence is hardly controversial. Peace studies and nonviolent conflict resolution - the technology of peace - are gaining prominence in universities around the world. 

"There are new ideas on the world's horizon, as different from the twentieth-century worldview as the twentieth century was different from the nineteenth century," writes Marianne Williamson, founder of the Peace Alliance, in her book Healing the Soul of America. "We are ready to apply principles of healing and recovery, not just to our bodies, not just to our relationships, but to every aspect of life."

Kucinich's legislation, which calls for the creation of a cabinet-level Department of Peace, funded at 2 percent of the Defense Department's budget, is just a step in the process. It's not a fabrication out of whole cloth. It would fund and coordinate programs already in existence, in schools, prisons and elsewhere; link the concepts of domestic and international violence; and give the U.S. government access to the latest thought and research on everything from safe schools to international arms control. 

Its implementation would acknowledge and further an awareness, a rationality, already taking hold. For instance: "It's a fraction of the cost to prevent a war than prosecute a war," Williamson pointed out at the conference. Somewhere in the corridors of power, a voice should be sounding, and advocating for, such common sense.

Similarly, while the state of California, Williamson noted, spends $150,000 per year per juvenile delinquent, violence-prevention programs are funded at the level of $150 per youth. It's nuts - such an allocation of resources is as foolish and wasteful and wrongheaded as a suicide bomber in the marketplace. "Nothing is so dangerous for our security," Williamson said, "as large groups of desperate people."

Yet the rationality of peace tends to just sit there - ho hum, what else is new? - while the headlines go off in our faces. Are we doomed to a violent politics, with all its news drama and illusion of instant transformation? Powerful interests, even government itself, seem locked into the mechanisms of war and human violence, however suicidal in the long, and now middle-distance, run. 

The creation of a Department of Peace would by no means extricate us from our dilemma, but it would signal our collective interest in making a start. Yet the bill faces enormous obstacles just to come up for debate. In the last session of Congress, it had 74 co-sponsors; with its reintroduction, 41 legislators are so far back on board. Its advocates will need enormous passion to keep the interest in it growing.

This brings me back to that moment in the conference when a just, fair world - a world that works for everybody - flickered in my heart as more than an abstraction, and I felt myself clot with tears. Perhaps you'd cry too if you sensed how close we are to such a world, and how close we are to blowing it forever.

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 [email protected] or visit his Web site at

  Category: Americas, World Affairs
  Topics: Government And Politics
Views: 2238

Related Suggestions

The opinions expressed herein, through this post or comments, contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization. The IslamiCity site may occasionally contain copyrighted material the use of which may not always have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. IslamiCity is making such material available in its effort to advance understanding of humanitarian, education, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and such (and all) material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Older Comments:
...and half revival, alive with music and global religion, full of God and Buddha and the spirit of the Founding Fathers and Gandhi and Martin Luther King and Jane Addams and Susan B. Anthony and many others...
World without Christ is World without hope. The Buddha or Gandhi and Founding Fathers of the US and the rest in the list were all peace seekers. They look different from the others in this realm because of their open confession in seeking peace for themselves and the world they were in. However, the version of peace they offer is humanitarian and only temporary like them. The true, divine peace comes from the prince of peace. Without him, even God is inaccessible for the sinful creatures. It's more difficult than driving the best, powerful tractor to the peak of the Everest without road....
Unfortunately the prince has been slained from the founding of the world. The builders have rejected the cornerstone that binds the two sides. They have only looked at one face while they build and the method has not changed for those building now. "Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it:" Ps 127:1a . Shall there be peace in the world that contends against the very foundation of peace? US Department of Peace if created will become a scapegoat for failing to make peace and might vindicate itself by staining it's head in honor not differing to the fate of the late president of Iraq. If headed by some shrewd one, it may prevail over the rightful expectation of others by imposing his version of peace and become like many AUTOCRATS and OBLIGARCHS in the world that yearn for peace but hew down the tree that bears it!

I want to thank you for taking the time to make people more aware that "a world that works for everyone" is possible. If you did not write this article there would be no discussion, and there would be no hope, and no future to look forward to. We would still be looking at what doesn't work of what works for some but not others.

Peace isn't something that just happens. Peace is the hardest state to obtain and maintain. Indeed, the world has never known peace, there has always been a war some place.
As the size of a region increases, the difficulty of the interactions increases significantly. As a population increases, the utilization of the resources increases. At some point the population overshoots the resources and its ability to maintain what is called peace drops dramatically. Politicians use the distress for their own purposes. Merchants generate disparity leaving a greater proportion of the population in distress. Children grow up isolated from the society of their parents and form their own gangs.
To have peace takes more than "a miracle happens", it takes a deep and abiding effort to balance the needs and aspirations of the individuals of a society. And it takes doing this over a long term, while those that receive the benefit must develop an understanding of what to expect and what not to do.

Assalamualaikum wrbt and greetings to all.

Read this my Muslim Brothers and Sisters. I now change my stance and I am against it. I believe that all these are pretext of another form of subtle conquest and to bring Muslim countries to subjugation. Why have I change ? Last night I watched barbarities, Israeli's police shooting rubber bullets, stun grenades at Al-Aqsa Mosque which was aired by the cable TV Al-Jazeera. They even fired at women and children, who did not take part in the demonstrations. I saw it myself and I was schocked.

Damn the monster and the heinous act that they did to the Palestinians. The Zionist police then locked the mosque after entering it's compound and they were seen chasing some Muslims right into the area which was prohibited by the United Nations resolutions to enter. And they fired at the mosque too ! When they locked the mosque, the scene was a group of Muslims being trapped there and not being able to get out.

Now I understand why millions of Muslims harboured hatred towards this regime. I used to regard myself as moderate but let me tell US and their Zionist cohorts, with scene like this you are turning us into the very force that you have feared for. How can moderate Muslims maintain their moderation when they see their Palestinian Brothers and Sisters being maimed and shot at. And the continous disrespect for the sanctity of the Third holiest place of Islam. And here was Abu Matzen ( Mahmoud Abas ) offering to enslave himself in service for his zionist masters.

I urge all my Muslim Brothers and Sisters to continue to observe the situation of Al-Aqsa through the Al-Jazeera cable news. You'll hear the cries of your bretheren in faith, enduring the brutalities of the zionist regime.

So to this phony Department of Peace, you'll lose the objectivity of moderate Muslims like me.

As salaamu alaikum!
There is something off-key here.
"The United States department of peace."
That statement is like saying
"Military Intelligence". Jumbo Shrimp.....
A Department of peace should be
organized by all countries and their
respected leaders. These leaders would
instill the peace process in their
countrymen's lives. It's either that or
the whole wide world converts to Islam.
Peace and Blessings,

A United States department of peace? I don't think so. That just doesn't sound right in the same sentence let alone in a name. For the people that actually beileve that this can work, more power to them but if betting money was halal, I'd bet a huge amount against this idea.

Assalamualaikum wrbt and greetings to all.

Let us all be open minded about it. I do not dislike all US policies. I have no disdain in all things that are American, they have a vibrant democracy but it is the working of the democracy that allows and infact gives rise for lobbyist and interest groups to control the country.

The formation of this Department of Peace is something new, but again I said that not all US policies are bad. It depends very much on who is in control.

I would like to see the modus of this department, on how do they intend to create world peace. There must be genuiness and at the same time, the rest of the world needs to examine themselves too.

Department of Peace = DOPE

The creation of a US Department of Peace is the biggest, all-time, silly-joke I have ever heard and imagined. What can we expect from a terrorist state like America who is now in Iraq and Afghanistan, killing 600000 innocents?

The US is a violent country, externally and internally. It has the highest crime rates and externally, had killed millions. It has invaded other sovereign territoiries more than 250 times, bombed more than 30 countries and killed millions. With this despicable, morally-disgusting and legally-unacceptable record, what makes all of us think that that same people would want to have peace?

The US Government is a powerless, puppet, slave-dog Government dictated, dominated, financed, subjugated and directed by a few financiers and lobbyist driven by power and lust. The whole world knows that all US think-tanks are run and controlled by Jews, a cynically-sick and low tribe that had killed 70 prophets and a 3000 year history of deceit and lies.

I think religion, Islam, is what the US needs now. America needs Islam, the religion of One God and One Law, equal to all that defies boundaries. Islam advocates love and respect of the human body and mind. The man behind the US Congresses, Senates and White House have bad humanity record. They are the one's that must be changed, not creating another new Department!

In US, Department of Peace is an oxymoron. US foreign policy is incompatible with Peace. Cold War is over. USSR is finished. But US budget on armaments is the highest ever; and US policy makers still consider that to be insufficient.

Funny, insurgents in Iraq have very little expense in confronting US military. May be at a cost of .01% of US expense, insurgents are defeating the mightiest military in the world.