In March 1965, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara addressed the first conference of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. He told us, "We have 3-3/4 million people in the Defense Department, but I doubt very much that we have influenced the peace of the world as much as the small handful of you."
For decades now, People's Lobby's extensive polling has shown that mothers favor having their sons and daughters serve and be heroes in the mold of Dr. Schweitzer, Tom Dooley, Mother Teresa, etc., rather than as a jungle warrior, tank driver, or drone dropper.
Therefore, in 1989 mother and then Congresswoman Barbara Boxer introduced our American Soviet Peace Corps proposal as House Resolution 1807 of 1989 , which would have had American and Soviet Peace Corps volunteers train, live, and serve together for two years.
We had strong support from the Soviet Consulate in San Francisco, consistent support from the Consulate's #2 man, Sergie Aivazian, and plenty of attention and visits from agents working for Fuller Brush Incorporated. Then the Soviet Union disintegrated, nations left its realm, my friend Sergei, burdened with some anger over the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and his family went home, and HR 1807 went into limbo and passed away.
The decades have tumbled by, the Soviet Union lost states, their leaders tussled with a communist ideology, and a former KGB agent, whose size and horseback demeanor suggests he may idolize Napoleon, seems to have solidified power along with some oligarchs in the old USSR.
As 2013 was drawing down, Syria erupted causing Putin, who seems to like Bashar Assad, to butt policy heads with Obama, who dislikes the actions Assad has dropped on his people. Many PNACERS (Project for a New American Century) who are sure they "Got it right" from domino-scary Vietnam to the no-Osama Bin-here Iraq War, clamored that the so-called African-born baby, who precociously in utero forged his birth to Hawaii, should shoot, bomb, blow up something.
Instead, Obama pushed diplomacy and got Assad to slowly and maybe grudgingly give up his chemical weapons. Another PTSD-laden excursion by our tired troops was averted.
At that time, I forwarded Congressman Veeshun's solution to Biden and Obama. If the B&O Express shuttled it to Putin, they have yet to inform me, so I went back to my tried-and-true past-policy approach.
I turned to San Francisco's Russian Consulate. I called, called, and called an unanswered phone and emailed several, no many, times. I tried faxing, to no printed avail, for many weeks.
Then I hand-delivered, getting through the quadruple bolted, steel-hardened door, the letter pasted below:
October 14, 2013
Consul General of Russia
2790 Green Street
San Francisco, CA 94123
In the 1980s, I became friends with your Deputy Consul General, Sergei Aivazian. For many months, we worked together trying to get congressional legislation introduced and approved to establish a Soviet-American or American-Soviet Peace Corps.
In 1989 Congresswoman Boxer introduced our proposal as House Resolution 1807 in 101st Congress, http://worldservicecorps.us/... 31289.htm. When the Soviet Union started dismantling, she ceased pushing the legislation.
1. Would you support reintroducing some similar legislation today?
Working together, Prime Minister Putin and President Obama recently saved Syria and the world from a great deal of pain and suffering. With a joint American Russian Peace Corps that I am suggesting here, Prime Minister Putin and President Obama could leapfrog many of today's intractable problems and dramatically improve the world. The link below to an OpEd suggests how these two men could dramatically reduce terrorism, poverty, and hatreds in the world. See Obama and Putin Play Newman.
2. Can I speak to you or one of your staff members about this joint Peace Corps proposal?
The joint Russia American Peace Corps that I outlined above is part of a larger initiative for America and other nations to form their own robust World Service Corps to address the myriad of problems facing today's world. I would value your input and support of our America's World Service Corps (AWSC) Congressional Proposal. More information available at www.WorldServiceCorps.us.
I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks for your consideration.
People's Lobby Inc.
Based on President Obama's many speeches regarding service and volunteerism, as well as his early campaign for a robust American World Service Corps support letter, I'm confident that with a functional, visionary Congress pushing such legislation, Obama would put both an American Russian Peace Corps as well as an America's World Service Corps (AWSC) into action. Not only is the AWSC the good and ethical policy to pursue, but it is financially prudent too.
According to the Congressional Research Service we taxpayers spent $623 billion (adjusted for inflation), fielding 9,087,000 active-duty military personnel during the Vietnam era (5 August 1965 to 7 May 1975). In that Vietnam era, each military service person cost our taxpayers $68,559 to maim and kill little, friendly, brown people in a propagandized, useless, trumped-up war. That's $623,000,000,000 that could have gone to rebuilding our educational system, infrastructure, manufacturing base, health-care system, space program, ship building, clean-energy programs, etc., right about the time we started falling behind the world in all those areas.
Just before Vietnam blew up, JFK started building the army that he preferred sending into the world instead of the Marine Corps. In 1961 he aptly named it the Peace Corps, telling its first Deputy Director Harris Wofford that he wanted it to grow quickly to 100,000 a year. "It would then be considered serious," he said.
Now imagine if Kennedy had lived and if through and after the Vietnam Era we had 100,000 Peace Corps volunteers (PCVs) annually serving throughout the world. Back in the 1960's, the average cost to field a PCV was about $5,500 per year. So the cost for putting 1,100,000 PCVs into worldwide service would have been about $6,600,000,000. If we triple that average cost to $18,000 per volunteer, we still could have invested $603 billion in projects that were good for people and the earth.
Vietnam War costs vs. PCVs in world
(image by www.peopleslobby.us)
Little Vietnam, long-time enemy with China, popularly run in the North by Ho Chi Minh, who worked a freighter to visit the America whose Declaration of Independence and Constitution he admired, started the dumbing down and mutilation of America's middle class and the nearly overwhelming growth of the military-industrial estate and its lobbyists; about which war-wizened President Eisenhower warned the nation.
On Vietnam, Ike couldn't "conceive of a greater tragedy for America than to get heavily involved now in an all-out war in any of those regions." Having seen the horrors of war he did not believe in hood-winking gung-ho patriots Born on the 4th of July to become disillusioned, crippled veterans due to a phony Gulf of Tonkin trumped-up war. And the Supreme Allied Commander of World War II would not go into an Iraq that had nothing to do with 911 without a ton of real intelligence, for he knew too many Patrick Tillmans, Patrick McCaffreys, and Ken Ballards would not come home where they could have been true heroes for 50+ years.
So why is it that we don't answer Marine General Smedley Butler's chilling, killing questions legislatively? Butler, one of only four to receive the Medal of Honor twice, would often ask, when not putting down a coup at home or abroad:
"How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine-gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
"Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few -- the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
"When confronted with foreign policy challenge or problem, we ha ve been too quick to reach for a gun to solve it. When there is an oppression or some other terrible thing in the world, the answer is not necessarily to send in American troops."
Since Kennedy's assassination and the crumbling of his Peace Corps dream, we've witnessed the growth of military-industrial estate, tax-sheltered oligarchs, economic inequalities at home and in key and struggling nations, propaganda machines twisting citizens' minds in our and other nations, terrorists growth, disastrous climate change...
We've forgotten Lincoln's public-policy words, "I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends."
In the 1960's America's economic and national security was dancing forward. The nation dared to dream of an Era of Camelot.
JFK's Camelot Era where goals were big & meaningful
(image by http://discconnectedussr.blogspot.com)
Today it is stumbling backward as too many of our corporate and personal understandings of the world come from bloody and profitable to too few military ventures, rather than peaceful service experiences in the world that builds healthy lives, friendships, and business connections. Those who serve and community build aren't lionized like those who down-size middle-class jobs and tax shelter the profits to do it again; rather than invest in America and Americans.
Congressman Charlie Rangel's perennial proposal that everyone should serve in military may be one way to address the trumped-up warring problem, but since most congresspersons have ignored it for decades most fail to push such legislation.
Since reviving the military draft seems unlikely, why not provide our existing bevy of do-good organizations with financial, educational, and home-ownership incentives that allow them to field a million volunteering Americans a year through and by bolstering the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Habitat, Doctors Without Borders, Head Start, Red Cross, International Rescue Committee, Oxfam, Mercy Corps, State Conservation Corps, Heifer, TechnoServe, effective local non-profits, in-need schools, etc.?
Having 21 million serve as PCVs, AmeriCorps volunteers, habitat workers, etc., serving under the banner of the America's World Service Corps (AWSC) over the next generation would do more than build a positive imagine of us in the world. It would also:
In Crimea and perhaps Ukraine, Putin is doing something that he may believe rebuilds his Russian dream. He may think he's playing bare-chested chess, which too often leads to brawls and costly wars.
Expose an increased number of Americans to addressing complex world as well as domestic needs.
Reduce the growing numbers who are open to terrorism by having them rub shoulders with hard-working, unpretentious Americans.
Erase problems that could fester into requiring the use of our costly and drained military.
Train and use people to combat climate change.
Inspire other nations to build their own World Service Corps, so many of the world's almost 200 nations can escape relying on warfare to address world needs tardily and dumbly.
So, in terms of chess strategy, why not push Putin (and other nations) on the world stage to link up and serve alongside our Peace Corps volunteers? And why not take the next step and build a robust American World Service Corps as an exemplar for others to follow suit? It would be a move even Garry Kasparov, the world's most renowned chess champion and human rights activist, would see as his greatest move.
Obama Putin discussing stuff, as they should.
(image also by Forbes http://patdollard.com/...)
Losing the Big Three (JFK, RFK, and MLK) fifty years ago set back the Age of Camelot, but that's even more reason for trying to build it at this late date.
Let poker-player Obama put the American Russian Peace Corps proposal on the table. If Putin were a smart player at that poker table, he'd say, "I'm all in. Let's clear the table together."
If you polled Russian mothers you'd find them supporting such service overwhelmingly over sending Russian troops anywhere. Mothers usually know best, chess or not, poker or not.
And put the AWSC as a template for other nations on the table too. If Obama would play that hand and Putin smartly joined him, much of the world would joyously come and play that table where everyone wins.
And Sergei Aivazian, if you find this, please get back in touch.