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The U.S. Department of Peace (federal bill HR-808) is a proposed cabinet-level department of the executive branch of the U.S. government.

Contents

The History of Legislation to Create a Department of Peace

  • 1792 Dr. Benjamin Rush, Founding Father(Signer of the Declaration of Independence) wrote a proactive essay entitled "A Plan for an Office of Peace”.[1] Dr. Rush called for equal footing with the Department of War and points out the effect of doing so for the welfare of the United States in promoting and preserving perpetual peace in our country. Benjamin Banneker, noted African American scientist published this essay in the 1792 Banneker Almanac. This is the first publicly known proposal for the establishment of an official U.S. Office of Peace.
  • 1925 Carrie Chapman Catt of the National League of Women Voters at the “Cause and Cure for War” Conference, publicly suggested, a Cabinet level “Department of Peace" and “Secretary of Peace” be established.[2]
  • 1935 Senator Matthew Neely of West Virginia, wrote and introduced the first bill calling for the creation of a United States Department of Peace. Reintroduced in 1937 and 1939
  • 1943 Senator Alexander Wiley of Wisconsin, spoke on the Senate floor calling for the United States of America to become the first government in the world to have a Secretary of Peace.
  • 1945 Representative Louis Ludlow of Indiana, re-introduced a bill to create a United States Department of Peace.
  • 1946 Senator Jennings Randolph ( United States Institute of Peace) re-introduced a bill to create a United States Department of Peace.
  • 1947 Representative Everett Dirkson of Illinois, introduced a bill for “A Peace Division in the State Department”.
  • 1955 to 1968 Eighty-five Senate and House of Representative bills were introduced calling for a United States Department of Peace.[3]
  • 1969 Senator Vance Hartke a Democrat of Indiana and Representative Seymour Halpern a Republican of New York both re-introduced bills to create a U.S. Department of Peace in the House of Representatives and the Senate. The 14 Senate co-sponsors of S. 953 "The Peace Act" included Birch Bayh (D-IN), Robert Byrd, (D-WV), Alan Cranston (D-CA), Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Edmund Muskie (D-ME). The 67 House co-sponsors included Ed Koch of New York, Donald Fraser of Minnesota, and Abner Mikva of Illinois, as well as Republican Paul McCloskey of California.
  • 1979 Senator Spark M. Matsunaga of Hawaii re-introduced a bill to create a U.S. Department of Peace.
  • 2001 Congressman Dennis Kucinich re-introduced a bill to create a U.S. Department of Peace. This bill has since been introduced in each session of Congress from 2001 to 2009. It was re-introduced as H.R. 808 on February 3, 2009 and is currently supported by 70 co-sponsors. In July 2008, the first Republican Co-sponsor, Congressman Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) signed on.

Support

The Peace Alliance[4] and the Student Peace Alliance[5] organizations support the creation of a U.S. Department of Peace. Both are national nonprofit organizations and independent grassroots political movements that operate autonomously. The ongoing movement is supported by several members of Congress, the late former CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite and author Marianne Williamson. Also joining the increasing list of national endorsements are Yoko Ono, Joaquin Phoenix, Frances Fisher and Willie Nelson. This movement actively lobbies for the endorsements of congressional leaders and is active in soliciting and receiving a growing list of bipartisan endorsements from city councils in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico and Ohio.[6] Local grassroots chapters have been formed in all 50 States.[7] A global movement for Ministries of Peace and Departments of Peace has also been launched by the Global Peace Alliance[8]

On January 15, 2009 the idea to Appoint a Secretary of Peace in a Department of Peace[9] was voted as one of the top 10 Ideas for Change in America.[10] This project was part of a nationwide competition following the election of Barack Obama to identify the best ideas for change in America. A total of 7,875 ideas were submitted and 675,943 votes were cast. On January 16, 2009 the idea to Appoint a Secretary of Peace in a Department of Peace was one of 10 ideas delivered to President Obama's Transition team. The online community and media network for social issues Change.org and the Case Foundation co-hosted this event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to announce the top 10 rated ideas.

Provisions of the Kucinich Bill

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich introduced U.S. Department of Peace legislation to Congress in July 2001, two months before the September 11 attacks. Kucinich has reintroduced the legislation every 2 years since. The bill currently has 70 cosponsors. Some of the numerous organizations endorsing the legislation include Amnesty International and the National Organization for Women.

This bill includes several additional proposed mandates which would work in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and go beyond the existing mandates of the U.S. Institute of Peace. Some highlights among the areas of proposed additional responsibility include:

  • Provide violence prevention, conflict resolution skills and mediation to America's school children in classrooms as an elective or requirement, providing them with the communication tools they need to express themselves beginning in elementary school through high school.
  • Provide support and grants for violence prevention programs addressing domestic violence, gang violence, drug and alcohol related violence, and the like.
  • To effectively treat and dismantle gang psychology.
  • To rehabilitate the prison population.
  • To build peace making efforts among conflicting cultures both here and abroad.
  • To support our military with complementary approaches to ending violence.
  • Monitoring of all domestic arms production, including non-military arms, conventional military arms, and of weapons of mass destruction.
  • Make expert recommendations on the latest techniques for diplomacy, meiation, conflict resolution to the US President for various strategies.
  • Assumption of a more proactive level of involvement in the establishment of international dialogues for international conflict resolution (as a cabinet level department).
  • Establishment of a US Peace Academy, which among other things would train international peace-keepers.
  • Development of an educational media program to promote non-violence in the domestic media.
  • Monitoring of human rights, both domestically and abroad.
  • Making regular recommendations to the President for the maintenance and improvement of these human rights.
  • Receiving a timely mandatory advance consultation from the Secretaries of State, and of Defense, prior to any engagement of US troops in any armed conflict with any other nation.
  • Establishment of a national Peace Day.
  • Participation by the Secretary of Peace as a member of the National Security Council.
  • Expansion of the national Sister City program.
  • Significant expansion of current Institute of Peace program involvement in educational affairs, in areas such as:
  1. Drug rehabilitation,
  2. Policy reviews concerning crime prevention, punishment, and rehabilitation,
  3. Implementation of violence prevention counseling programs and peer mediation programs in schools,
  • Also, making recommendations regarding:
  1. Battered women's rights,
  2. Animal rights,
  • Various other "peace related areas of responsibility".

Proposed funding for a U.S. Department of Peace would initially come from a budget that is defined by the prevention bill as, "at least 1 percent of the proposed federal discretionary budget, FY 2008 of which 53% is already allocated to the Department of Defense (budget)". Whether or not the US Institute of Peace would be promoted to a cabinet level position, is not addressed by this bill.

A growing, national movement of citizens continues to actively promote and lobby for this legislation.

The Peace Alliance is the National Organization which is spearheading the passage of the legislation.

Previous Proposals

Senator Vance Hartke, Democrat of Indiana, S. 953, "The Peace Act," to establish a cabinet-level called for the new department to develop "plans, policies and programs designed to foster peace," coordinate all U.S. government activities affecting "the preservation or promotion of peace," to cooperate with other governments in planning for peaceful conflict resolution, and promote the exchange of ideas between private parties in the U.S. and other countries. The bill further provided for establishment of an International Peace Institute that would train citizens for service, a Peace by Investment Corporation, and the transfer of agencies such as the Peace Corps, Agency for International Development, and the International Agricultural Development Service, to the new Department. The bills received popular support from anti-war groups, Catholic and Baptist publications, author Norman Cousins, and others.[11]

Fiction

The novel 1988 (a fictional work about the upcoming 1988 presidential election published in 1985) by then-Governor of Colorado Richard Lamm, includes a very similar proposal where the third-party presidential candidate in the novel proposes a cabinet-level Agency for U.S. Peace and Conflict Resolution with a Secretary of Peace who could challenge the Secretary of Defense when necessary.

See also

References

  1. ^ Dr. Benjamin Rush. "A Plan for an Office of Peace.". http://books.google.com/books?id=xtUKAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA183&dq=benjamin+rush+peace+plan+office#v=onepage&q=&f=false. 
  2. ^ Jacqueline Van Voris. "Carrie Chapman Catt - A Public Life". http://books.google.com/books?id=s2SkL2HNuwEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=jacqueline+voris#PPA200,M1. 
  3. ^ Frederick L. Schuman. "Why a Department of Peace?". http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/339785. 
  4. ^ "The Peace Alliance". http://www.ThePeaceAlliance.org/. 
  5. ^ "Student Peace Alliance". http://www.StudentPeaceAlliance.org/. 
  6. ^ "City, County and Governing Body Resolutions in support of a U.S. Department of Peace". http://www.thepeacealliance.org/content/view/147/464/. 
  7. ^ "Get Active and Volunteer". The Peace Alliance. http://www.thepeacealliance.org/organize/. Retrieved 2007-10-24. 
  8. ^ "Global Alliance for Ministries and Departments of Peace". http://www.mfp-dop.org. 
  9. ^ Department of Peace Home Page on Change.org http://www.change.org/ideas/view/appoint_secretary_of_peace_in_department_of_peace_and_non-violence
  10. ^ Voted as a top Idea for Change in America http://www.change.org/ideas
  11. ^ Frederick L. Schuman. "Why a Department of Peace?". http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/339785. 

External links

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