March 4, 2011
Most people are not aware of the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), but the current budget plan heading to the U.S. senate will sacrifice it's entire budget on the altar of short term expediency, and the blood to flow will come from American soldier's veins.
Just ask General David Petreaus, one of the USIP's biggest supporters, who stated, "In Iraq the Institute stepped up to the plate beginning in August 2007 to assist the 10th Mountain Division in a reconciliation effort in Mahmoudiya, a community on the southern edge of Baghdad that was once known as the 'Triangle of Death. Since then, General Odierno and I have often cited Mahmouidya as a striking success story. USIP's continuing reconciliation efforts at the community level…hold great promise for the future.”
The USIP is the only government agency devoted to promoting global peace building and conflict resolution. It's budget is only $42 million and has a staff of about 150. It's existence reflects at least a spark of institutional governmental commitment to the prevention of conflict through non-violent means. Former Secretary of State George Schultz writes, "At a time when our country is grappling with budgetary challenges, the minuscule budget of the Institute—less than one-tenth of one percent of the State Department appropriation—represents a highly effective investment in our foreign policy and national security capabilities."
Meanwhile, the cost of keeping one soldier in combat in Afghanistan for one year runs between $400,000 to $1million. In other words, what America spend to field one platoon of Marines in Afghanistan would fund the entire USIP for a year, which has conflict prevention and peacebuilding activities in 20 of the most conflicted countries in the world. Let's take a stand on this one, as the Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit tagline on the USIP website states, "The more we sweat in peace the less we bleed in war."
An online petition to save the USIP is being organized by the peace alliance and can be found at www.thepeacealliance.org, while more advocacy information is at the alliance for peacebuilding at http://www.