Tuesday, February 21, 2006

[Foreign Policy]

Get on the Peace Train.

Dennis Kucinch is regarded as a flaky new-age vegan by most of America, and part of their proof was his "Peace Department" idea. There remain some decidedly new-agey aspects to the proposal (a full-fledged legislative proposal, now endorsed by a few dozen congresspeople), like peer mediation among school age kids. But the warm fuzz aside, the nucleus of the idea is revolutionary.

George W. Bush had this hypothesis that if you invade countries, kill a bunch of baddies (and unavoidably, some kids and innocents), and install American toadies, you'll get peaceful democracy. For some reason, this absurd approach, enshrined as our official National Security Policy, was regarded as "serious," despite the obvious fact that invasion is a piss poor way to spread peace. Even more fantastically, a bellicose foreign policy is still regarded as the only serious foreign policy.

Let's try an alternative hypothesis: in addition to a strong military, which the US might regard as a defensive military, we need an active, intentional process for spreading stability among dangerous regions. Is it so absurd? Yet that's what the Dept of Peace proposes. From the text of the actual legislation:
  • work to create peace, prevent violence, divert from armed conflict, use field-tested programs, and develop new structures in nonviolent dispute resolution;
  • take a proactive, strategic approach in the development of policies that promote national and international conflict prevention, nonviolent intervention, mediation, peaceful resolution of conflict, and structured mediation of conflict;
  • encourage the development of initiatives from local communities, religious groups, and nongovernmental organizations.
Bush took a lot of credit for the spread of democracy to the Ukraine, but the way in which that revolution evolved is an endorsement of the Kucinich approach--and a harsh rebuke of Bush's peace-through-war strategy.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Endowment for Democracy and a few other foundations sponsored certain U.S. organizations, including Freedom House, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, the Solidarity Center, the Eurasia Foundation, Internews and several others to provide small grants and technical assistance to Ukrainian civil society. The European Union, individual European countries and the Soros-funded International Renaissance Foundation did the same.
For over 50 years, US foreign policy has focused on military force. This had a moderating effect during the cold war (despite the fears of many liberals, who thought mutually assured distruction (MAD) was, well, madness), but it has the opposite effect now: it destabilizes our relations with far weaker countries. They quite naturally see us as an unstoppable threat, and the more we use our might to interfere violently with foreign countries, the more we will be mistrusted. Our military actually undermines our effort to create peace and stability.

Whether we adopt a Department of Peace or not, the truth is becoming all to clear that something like it--a serious, well-publicized commitment to peace--is necessary to offset the chaos our massive military has created.


zemeckis said...

well i am probably one of the choir,

doesnt seem like a alpha-country really gets into the whole peace process until they have painfully fallen from the top spot.

shuddering at my own cynisism

Absent Mindful said...

With Diebold machines getting the "OK" in California, we can rest that no "peace-lover" will ever take the reins of this nation's military AGAIN.

iggir said...

hey, i'm still Cuckoo for Kucinich!


zemeckis said...

i also tend to agree with absent, with our democracy rotting from the top down i find it hard to expect that state and local will be able to avoid being trashed by the 'pubs power grab.

if, somehow, they did roll over and give democracy back to the people, it'd be a first in world history