Don't give peace dept. a chance

Debra J. Saunders

8/9/2001 12:00:00 AM - Debra J. Saunders
You know members of Congress have too much time on their hands, and no compunction about wasting tax dollars, when they sign on as co-sponsors of a bill to create a Cabinet-level Department of Peace. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, has 37 co-sponsors for his Department of Peace bill, including Reps. Barbara Lee and Pete Stark of California. All but one of them (Socialist Bernie Sanders) of Vermont are Democrats. No surprise there -- the bill is a wish list of ultra-left Dem programs. (I kid you not -- the proposed agency would address elder abuse.) The Department of Peace could deliver $3 billion annually in Democratic patronage. "We are in a new millennium," reads HR 2459, "and the time has come to review age-old challenges with the new thinking, wherein we can conceive of peace as not simply being the absence of violence, but the active presence of the capacity for a higher evolution of the human awareness, of respect, trust and integrity." If that means that the best way to achieve peace is maintaining a highly evolved, active and respected military that can smoke the very nostrils of enemy troops, I'm on board. But that's what the Department of Defense is for. You might as well call the proposed Cabinet post the Secretary of Redundancy. Federal, state and local governments already handle other Department of Peace areas, including programs to "reduce drug and alcohol abuse," address spousal abuse and child abuse, make "policy recommendations to the attorney general regarding civil rights and labor law," "create special task forces ... on the root sources of conflict in troubled areas," "encourage the development of international sister-city programs," and -- another I-kid-you-not clause -- "develop policies to address violence against animals." When you think about it, none of the great pacifists -- e.g., Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Jesus -- was on the government payroll. Each was an independent soul, untainted by politics, not an under-assistant secretary of the Department of Peace, Office of Education and Training. They probably understood that if you want to muck up peace, make it a government program. So it's odd that congressional peaceniks would choose to push peace through a billion-dollar bureaucracy with seven assistant secretaries and a plethora of cross-your-fingers training programs. The peace secretary's responsibilities would be to "monitor and analyze causative principles of conflict and make policy recommendations for developing and maintaining peaceful conduct." Like it's that simple. Wish for peace and you make it so. They could call it the Department of Good Intentions, and forget how hell is paved, forget Neville Chamberlain, and forget that countries that want peace at any cost appear to be easy pickings for rapacious dictators. Lee believes the bill is not a "pie in the sky" proposal. It's important, she said, to have a peace czar at the Cabinet discussion table. But peace is at the table. Congress is a factor; and heads of non-defense departments want missile money to fund education, health or enforcement initiatives instead. Relax. The chances of this bill becoming law any time soon are zilch -- even peaceniks agree. Last year, Friends Committee on National Legislation Executive Secretary Joe Volk wrote to Kucinich to explained that his group liked the idea as a "vision statement," but: "To be blunt, we believe that spending any major effort to create a U.S. Department of Peace is a waste of time." No lie. About the only thing this bill would be good for is begging this question: What if they had a peace teach-in and nobody came?