There needs to be a Department of Peace to end violence

Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2007

There is a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, House Resolution 808, proposing the establishment of a U.S. Department of Peace.

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Why is the passage of this bill so important? Looking at current events in our nation and around the world, from school shootings to car bombings, from domestic violence to terrorist attacks, and the more than 20 major armed conflicts raging around the globe, it is evident that change is desperately needed. We cannot afford to act out in violence anymore.

Violence in the United States places intense financial burdens on local governments. The unsustainable costs of international violence are exhausting our economic resources, not to mention the unfathomable social and psychological cost of violence.

Here is how the establishment of a Peace Department would help remedy this situation: The department's budget (funded with 2 percent of the $400 billion Defense budget) would provide funds to create and expand upon proven, successful domestic strategies that are currently only taking place in piecemeal fashion, such as mediation training, alternative dispute resolution techniques, nonviolent communication curricula and restorative justice programs.

This bill is not a reactive Band-Aid. It is proactive and focuses to a large extent on domestic problem solving. The Department of Peace would provide the institutional heft to adequately fund such programs and make them universally available to communities across the United States.

Internationally the Department of Peace would provide the tragically lacking transition plan from war to peace and post-conflict reconstruction. Currently, the Department of State is working on preventing the next terrorist attack, but who is working to prevent the cause of terrorism? The Department of Peace would complement the military by tapping the wealth of our knowledge of the psychology of terrorism and its root causes. It would provide the military with a far larger array of options on the ground with which to build civil society, helping soldiers remain safe and effective.

This is a very brief summary of the legislation to create a U.S. Department of Peace. For more information, check out www.thepeacealliance.org.

Liz Marantz-Falvey

Haines



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