Monday, January 31, 2011


Police water cannons against demonstrators--this time in downtown Cairo, Egypt, 1-25-11, photo by APTOPIX

A policy of policing the world, imposing our specifications to every international problem, is now tumbling, from Tunisia, Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, and onward throughout the Middle East. The domino theory, coined to justify our war in Vietnam, is coming home to roost, not because of ignoring communist threats, but because of our hyper-intervention. Every one of these country’s top-down governments has accepted massive U.S. military aid over the years.

The War on Terror, with its invasion & occupation and ongoing carnage in Iraq & Afghanistan, has collapsed the balance of power, by its own arrogant posturing. We can do it alone; you are either for us, or against us. It will take decades for us to be mutually respected within the international community again.

These are the fruits of a weapons-only, minimal diplomatic respect, foreign policy. In the last decade we've created a new isolationism of the single superpower, encased in military might, clothed in the armor of permanent confrontation. To break out of these mental and political chains we desperately need a foreign-language-competent, fully-funded State Department Foreign Service corps.

To better achieve this, we should mount a national effort to provide our next generation access to live-in experiences, in countries throughout the world. An interdependence of interests and understanding are the only means to resolving worldwide conflict. A re-invigorated Peace Corps bigger than the Marine Corps. When initiated by Sargent Shriver and JFK in 1962, they envisioned 100,000 and more Peace Corps strong, serving per year. 1 It never came close. We’ve only mustered an average of 4000/yr, in these past 50 years. The Peace Corps budget stagnates, at equal to the armed forces budget for military music bands. Instead of armed services sign-on bonuses, we have Peace Corps minuses.
I’ve been amazed watching my daughter Bridget’s attempts to apply to the Peace Corps this year. The barriers to participation have ranged from a notarized letter from parents making them responsible for all student loans, to a mandate in her case that could have required the extraction of all wisdom teeth. Application has thus far included required, above-standard-care, dental/medical bills of over $1500 {which we’ve paid as she has no extra money, living & working in NYC}. Application is still incomplete. Peace Corps has become, unwittingly, an exclusive club. Bridget has good language & computational skills, can speak practical Mandarin Chinese with 4 years study at U of M and 3 months intensive study in China. She’s been told that if accepted, she’ll probably serve somewhere in Latin America {does have some beginning Spanish}.
Somewhat, but not very much.

We can and must do so much better. The world needs our bright, ingenious, generous, creativity. Not dominating, exported, profits-driven, military firepower. Let’s begin the transition now; bring a halt to falling dominoes, by fully embracing democracy that serves the common good, at home and abroad. Ask not what your predominant country can do for you, but what you can do for the people of your country, and the planet.

You get what you pay for. Pray for peace. Pay for peace. Invest in a future without war.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. -- Mk 10:45


Thanks to Mike Connell for his 1-23-11 Times Herald column on local Peace Corps member Bonnie Campbell, and her experience in Azerbaijan.
For more information on serving in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps--contact the local organization, Blue Ops: Opportunities for Community & National Service and leave a message for Jeff Coolidge, 810 985 8169, at St. Clair Co. United Way--a cooperative volunteer recruitment project.

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