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Why we need a Peace Department

January 31, 2005

In an article entitled, “The best defence, New Scientist author Chris Langley reports that worldwide, military spending is expected to be $1 trillion for 2004. 

No, I’m not one of those peaceniks who thinks we should all join hands and plant daisies together, but it’s the R&D that particularly has my interest.  The US alone is spending around $63bn a year just thinking up new ways to blow stuff up.

Sometimes, stuff needs to be blown up, and by cracky, we’re the best at it.  Nobody blows stuff up better than we do.  (I’m including all kinds of other nasty things we know how to do under the “blowing stuff up” umbrella.)

We might actually be safer, and more secure, if we’d spend some – not all, I said I’m not a hippie peacenik, but some – of that money figuring out how to fix stuff.  Innovative ways to sneak education into third-world countries.  Effective treatments for malaria to stabilize countries where too many people are dying of it to run a good economy. 

An infrastructure for peace studies and action, wholly owned and controlled by US.  (Thanks, U.N., we’ll let you know if we need you.  Go trade some oil-for-food somewhere.)

How about an assessment of the destabilizing effects of our massive arms sales.  After all, no one sells more arms to the third world than we do.  Even the Chinese take a back seat to our sales figures.

In the past, foreign aid has mostly wound up in the pockets of dictators while their brainwashed people only hated us more.  So we’ll have to be smarter in the future.  The performance requirements of Gates’ Foundation philanthropies are a good model.

How much would it cost to be running several humanitarian “Manhatten Projects?”  A “Peace Department.”  Would it kill us to try?  Feel free to hit the “comments” link if you think it would…

Categories: Issues, News
  1. WeeDram
    February 3, 2005 at 20:31 | #1

    Well gee, where do I start?  As the resident Peacenik (yet willing to take out assholes with a titanium stick that I always carry), I do have to applaud the core thought here: we’re spending a shitload of money on DESTRUCTIVE technology and strategies in contrast to the paltry amounts we spend on BUILDING stuff.  Hey, that isn’t even a reasonable business proposition.  Would you spend more to demolish a building than to build it?

    But the statement “No, I’m not one of those peaceniks who thinks we should all join hands and plant daisies together” is a little less than off-hand.  Have you/we ever considered how powerful joining hands is?  And planting daisies… or other beautiful things?  I’m not talking about the mornonic joining hands of the evangical-fake-caring prayer circle, but the real joining hands of the human core.  I plant stuff in the Spring because it lives, it changes and grows.  It feeds me if I harvest it (sometimes I am lazy), it flavours my food … basil, sage, rosemary, etc … and makes me a better person because I am enjoying LIFE with simple things that grew in my little patch.

    “An infrastructure for peace studies and action, wholly owned and controlled by US.  (Thanks, U.N., we’ll let you know if we need you.  Go trade some oil-for-food somewhere.)”

    Oh puhleeze.  Tell me about the US record, not to mention “skills” in peacemaking/keeping or whatever you want to call it.  The UN is pretty imperfect, but either you replace it with a more reasonable international body or just forget it.  A single country cannot do this.  I.e., we need to hold hands at a pretty high level.  That starts at a “low” level.


  2. February 5, 2005 at 15:22 | #2

    So after applauding my core thought you seem unhappy that I don’t go far enough and you dislike how I assess the practicality of peaceniks and the UN.  OK.

    Yes I have considered how powerful joining hands can be – in some situations it is the only thing that will work.  Hopefully if the US had a peace department, that would become obvious and a gradual shift in priorities would occur.  I think that’s politically realistic.  It is certainly worth a try.  I’d trade a couple or three big-ticket weapons programs for it. 

    As for my assessment of the UN (and failure to bring up bad things the US has done) I’m suggesting we build an effective peace infrastructure and – in time – invite others in if they behave.  The whole endeavor requires the US to clean up its own act in the process – a good thing, I fancy.

    If any one country has a chance of pulling that off, it is the wealthiest one with the democratic ideals (somewhat tarnished though they may be.  We can polish them.)

    The UN is very close to being a complete, corrupt, dithering bureaucratic failure.  Until recently, Lybia chaired their human rights committee.  Lybia! Practically everything they do is an attempt to blame the US while failing to address the problem.  Once in a while they get it right, but at a rate no better than chance.

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