August 21, 2002 - Royal Marines save PCV - Will the Peace Corps be leaving Russia? - Christian Century analyzes USA Freedom Corps - Bigger Peace Corps, Paltry Effort - Help Strengthen the Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Previous Issues of Peace Corps Online: August 21, 2002 - Royal Marines save PCV - Will the Peace Corps be leaving Russia? - Christian Century analyzes USA Freedom Corps - Bigger Peace Corps, Paltry Effort - Help Strengthen the Peace Corps

By Admin1 (admin) on Tuesday, August 20, 2002 - 11:20 pm: Edit Post

This Month's Features - August 21, 2002

...........IN THIS ISSUE........................................

1. Royal Marines save PCV from Terrorists
2. Will the Peace Corps be leaving Russia?
3. Christian Century analyzes USA Freedom Corps
4. Bigger Peace Corps, Paltry Effort
5. Help Strengthen the Peace Corps
6. About Peace Corps Online


British Royal Marines saved a Peace Corps Volunteer who was kidnapped in
a local rebellion in Malaysia by a Moslem leader. The terrorists
announced that they were going to hang their prisoners if their demands
were not met. A contingent of British Marines landed at Limbang and
freed the hostages only hours before the first execution was scheduled.
Five Marines were killed in this action.

The Date? December 12, 1962

With the recent heightened awareness of the safety of Peace Corps
Volunteers it is important to recognize that this is not a new concern
and that sometimes other men and women risk their lives, and give their
lives, to extract PCVs from difficult situations.

Read the resolution from the Friends of Malaysia and their plans to send
a representative to honor the Royal Marines on the 40th anniversary of
their rescue mission at their reunion in Manchester England and read the
full story behind this forgotten episode of Peace Corps History at:


Stories about the visa problems with Peace Corps Volunteers in Russia
began appearing on August 12 with the articles in the Wall Street Journal
and Washington Post about "U.S. Peace Corps scaling back its operations
in Russia after authorities denied visas to almost half its volunteers."
The rhetoric escalated the next day with the story on Fox News that
"without any official explanation, Russia is refusing to accept a large
number of American Peace Corps workers."

The Associated Press reported on August 14 that the issue was being
addressed at the highest levels of government with the news that
Secretary of State Colin Powell has made no progress in talks with
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov in overcoming Moscow's unexplained
refusal to grant visas to Peace Corps volunteers.

At the same time Russian newspapers began criticizing the Peace Corps
when Izvestiya said that one volunteer on her last trip to Russia was
fined for drunkenness by the police, that another volunteer met a large
number of people whose activities are very closely connected with
manufacturing and the economy for whole regions, and that Valerie Ibaan,
who used to be head of the Far East branch of the Peace Corps, had
violated the border regime.

The Peace Corps made its case in a story that appeared on Radio Free
Europe, a quasi-governmental agency that receives most of its funding
from the U.S. Congress and has the stated mission of promoting democratic
values and institutions. Radio Free Europe stated that the Peace Corps
says it does not know the reason for Moscow's refusal and that the Peace
Corps has made great efforts to cooperate with the Education Ministry in
tailoring its programs to meet stated needs. A Peace Corps spokesman went
on to say that "The bond between the sites and the volunteers is
incredible. The volunteers put their heart and soul into this work and
the communities really reach out to embrace them. You know, the
technical-assistance part is just one part of the Peace Corps. The other
part is the cultural exchange, which is very important now. The more
Americans can understand Russians and see a more nuanced [side] of their
culture, and the more Russian communities can interact with an American
and have those experiences, I think, the better off we're all going to

An op-ed piece from one American newspaper offered the idea that "Rather
than expelling the Peace Corps, Moscow should send over an equal number
of young Russians to serve in AmeriCorps. They'll get a gritty view of
America's struggle with urban and rural poverty and a chance to do some
real good. Everybody could benefit."

We have said from the beginning that this story may have nothing to do
with the Peace Corps but that the Peace Corps was possibly being used to
send a signal from the Russian government to the United States to express
displeasure with other aspects of US foreign policy. Now a story from
the Washington Post says that there are serious disagreements between
Russia and the United States over Iraq and says that "Russia and Iraq
plan to sign a new five-year economic cooperation agreement worth $40
billion, reinforcing Moscow's close ties to Baghdad even as the United
States weighs a military attack to drive Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
from power."

Read and comment on these stories about the Peace Corps in Russia and
read the many comments that RPCVs who have served in Russia have left on
this subject at:


The Christian Century Foundation is a nonprofit and nondenominational
organization which for over 100 years has published articles by the most
respected theologians, historians and church leaders and has been
recognized for its concern for relating faith to political, cultural and
social issues. They have published an analysis and critique of the USA
Freedom Corps in a recent issue of Christian Century magazine. Here are a
few excerpts that go to the heart of many Returned Volunteer's own
objections to the USA Freedom Corps:

On the disparate goals of the USA Freedom Corps Entitities:

"What is the goal of the USA Freedom Corps when its programs address
three such disparate ends: international aid (Peace Corps), homeland
security (Citizens Corps) and community rebuilding (AmeriCorps and Senior
Corps)? The first answer to the "service for what" question is that the
Freedom Corps initiative is attempting to stitch a seamless new entity
from goals that may or may not fit together well. Imagine the different
attitudes and actions of two volunteers in a local neighborhood. One is
charged to promote a sense of community; the other is assigned to report
on suspicious people as part of terrorism prevention."

On the Rhetoric used to send the Peace Corps into the Islamic World:

"...we should express concern when Bush suggests that Peace Corps workers
should go into Afghanistan and elsewhere in "the Islamic world" in order
to demonstrate what a great and compassionate nation America is. His
rhetoric does little to convince citizens of those nations that the U.S.
is not arrogant or paternalistic. More to the point, his patriotic
proselytism defies the notion that service should be undertaken most
centrally not for the benefit of the server but for the one who is

On the Rhetoric of Bush's call to "overcome evil by greater good":

"... emphasis on humility is not reflected in President Bush's call
to 'overcome evil by greater good.' To believe that the American way (or
the way of any human institution) is going to defeat evil by doing good
suggests either naivete or hubris. In one of my classes, a student
recalled that Bush has called his fellow Americans 'to rid the world of
evil,' and noted that not even Jesus accomplished this goal in his

Read the entire essay and leave your comments at:


One of the purposes of PCOL is to encourage and facilitate the exchange
of different opinions and views within the Returned Volunteer Community.
Read and comment on a recent op-ed piece in the Washington Post by a
Peace Corps Volunteer in Ivory Coast who says that expanding the Peace
Corps gives Bush a carrot to use with his big stick that is the war on
terrorism, but it's a paltry effort to win over hearts and minds, when
what we really need to do is fill the stomachs and pocketbooks of the
developing world. Here is an excerpt:

President Bush has proposed doubling the size of the Peace Corps -- to
help, he says, "spread the good story" of American values and ideas to
the Muslim world. From my perspective as a Peace Corps volunteer in a
Muslim village in Africa, the plan seems whimsical at best.

Doubling the size of the $275 million, 7,000-volunteer Peace Corps
wouldn't do much to alleviate the poverty and hopelessness that foster
terrorism. For, in reality, the Peace Corps does more to make us
Americans feel good about ourselves than it does to fight that poverty.
Instead, we need to change the economic policies that I often find
punishing the very villagers I am trying to help. Read and comment on
this op-ed piece at:


The House and Senate will return from their recess after Labor Day.
Paste the following URL into your browser:

and then type in your zip code on the web page to get the email address,
office address, and phone number of your Senators and Congressman. Write
them, call them, or email them to tell them that you are a constituent,
you are a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, that you support Bill S 2667 in
the Senate and Bill HR 4979 in the House and that you want them to let
you know if they are going to co-sponsor and vote for the bill.

This legislation was introduced in both the Senate and House to double
the number of PCVs (from 7,000 to 15,000) in 5 years, which the President
has called for in his State of the Union address; double the Peace Corps'
funding in 5 years; increase the accountability and communication of the
Peace Corps to both Congress and the RPCV community; keep the Peace Corps
an independent agency; increase utilization of RPCVs to help open and
reopen PC countries; re-examine student loan forgiveness and increase the
readjustment allowance; begin a large infectious disease training
initiative for all PCVs; and create a fund of $10 million/year for RPCVs
to undertake community- based projects to carry out the goals of the
Peace Corps. For more information on the bill go to:


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