PCOL Exclusive: The Coyne Column: A Hidden Agenda?

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: August 2, 2005: Headlines: Speaking Out: Military: Intelligence Issues: Washington Post: Peace Corps Option for Military Recruits Sparks Concerns : PCOL Exclusive: The Coyne Column: A Hidden Agenda?

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-23-45.balt.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, August 02, 2005 - 11:58 am: Edit Post

The Coyne Column: A Hidden Agenda?

The Coyne Column:  A Hidden Agenda?

Having served myself in the Air Force and the Peace Corps, and having seen U.S. military troops and Peace Corps Volunteers while in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, when I was a PCV and an APCD, I know there is a difference in training, attitude and purpose between our agency and the military. So today, when this administration says lets link the Peace Corps with the Department of Defense, we should say, “Not only no, but hell no!”

The Coyne Column: A Hidden Agenda?

What isn’t stated in the Washington Post article, in my opinion, is the real “hidden agenda” of this administration: that is to use the Peace Corps as a cover for a “backdoor” draft. I’m all for National Service but not at the cost of linking Peace Corps service and a military tour. With recruitment numbers down for the military, the administration has come up with this dodge of using the good name of the Peace Corps as a way to get front line soldiers.

Having served myself in the Air Force and the Peace Corps, and having seen U.S. military troops and Peace Corps Volunteers while in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, when I was a PCV and an APCD, I know there is a difference in training, attitude and purpose between our agency and the military.

It is possible to train the military in the ways of cross cultural understanding. A good friend who serviced with me in Ethiopia pointed that out this morning: “I remember the early Green Beret's who came to DireDawa in '63 to train Ethiopian troops. They were bright, articulate, skilled (medical, communications, cooking, construction, languages and of course destruction and killing). Once they put their rifles away as they walked about town things were fine.”

Leave the Peace Corps alone. Let us have one bright star of foreign involvement that has nothing to do with killing people.

Remember the PCVs in the Dominican Republic in 1965? When civil war broke out in ’65, most of the Volunteers, like most of the Dominicans, sympathized with the rebels seeking the restoration of a democratic regime. When LBJ sent troops to “protect” the Americans in the DR, the PCV refused to be evacuated from war-torn Santo Domingo. The State Department proposed that PCVs be assigned to work with the Green Berets, on helicopter missions around the country to inquire about the political views of the people. When that scheme was put to the Peace Corps, the answer from Frank Mankiewicz, head of Peace Corps’ Latin America division, and personally approved by Shriver, was, “Not only no, but hell no!”

So today, when this administration says lets link the Peace Corps with the Department of Defense, we should say, “Not only no, but hell no!”

John Coyne, editor of the "Peace Corps Writers" web site, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia in the 1960's.

When this story was posted in July 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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July 17, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: July 17 2005 No: 690 July 17, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
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Tucker McCravy works with Serendib in Sri Lanka 17 July
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Story Source: PCOL Exclusive

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; Coyne Column; Writers; COS - Ethiopia; Speaking Out; Military; Intelligence Issues; Safety and Security of Volunteers


By Joanne Marie Roll (joey) (dialup- - on Sunday, August 07, 2005 - 3:09 pm: Edit Post

One can certainly agree with John Coyne's analysis and deplore the linking of military and peace corps service. However, it is a done deal. The Call to Action legislation passed in December of 2002 allowed military reservists to complete their military obligation with peace corps service. And, now, to whom, would Coyne have us say Hell No?
There is no Shriver running the Peace Corps, nor Mankiewicz telling the State Department where to get off. It is 2005, not 1965 and the people running the United States Peace Corps are fully cooperative with this legislation.
Saying "Hell No" is a romantic, but futile gesture.

By Meredith Dalebout (25.207-191-235.gbrdialin.gbronline.com - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 4:48 pm: Edit Post

We must persist. No must always be the answer to any military connection to the Peace Corps. Maybe we'll have to replace Vasquez. Volunteers unite!

By Joanne Marie Roll (joey) (dialup- - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 10:09 pm: Edit Post

I would like to play devil's advocate on this issue. Not because I support the link between the military and the peace corps, but because I think a vigorous examination of the issues is essential. I think this country has had enough of empty rhetoric.
The peace corps has always had barriers to participation which prevented poor Americans from serving. To serve without salary for two years was financially impossible for many Americans. In many families, the income from adult sons and daughters was necessary to sustain younger siblings, older and/or disabled parents. A college education is not a prerequisite for peace corps service; but all too often, the lack of college did represent a barrier. During the 1960s, when men were subject to the Draft, the Peace Corps became a haven for men who did not want to join the military and could afford to join the peace corps.
The Peace Corps has never been able to compete for talent with the military, because of the financial cost required to serve in thepeace corps. That is why the United States sent blond, blue eyed Chris Matthews to Africa and his brown and black peers, to Vietnam.
This "Call to Service" (or whatever) is legislation, which for the first time, will rectify that injustice. It is Gaddi Vasquez, himself, who explained that he couldn't join the peace corps because his family needed his salary.

By Dan Miller (ip-200-53-106-124-mty.marcatel.net.mx - on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 11:38 pm: Edit Post

We still can say "Hell, no" by making the desire to avoid military service by serving in the Peace Corps an automatic disqualification. That is no problem while we get the legislation changed.

As for the argument that somehow this system helps the poor, it doesn't make sense. In the first place, the military is not exactly a high paying job, but it still beats the Peace Corps if your aim is to send money home. Since the military "volunteers" will only be getting PC salary, nothing from the military (see Gaddy's statement above), the same supposed barriers still exist and the new program does nothing to lower them.

What it does do is allow the military to stick their fingers in the PC pie and get their foot in the door so that they can bend PC more to their benefit and agenda. For as long as PC has been in existence, the State Dept and the Defense Dept. have been trying to coopt PC for their own purposes. There is no need to make their job easier for them to our detriment. Remember, these people (State and Defense) don't really care about the well-being of the powerless in developing countries. Their goal is to inflict their own control agendas on the countries where we serve. These are the same people who sponsored the death squads in Central America. Do you really want people like Negroponte, Rice and Rumsfeld having any say in how PC operates?

By Joanne Marie Roll (joey) (dialup- - on Friday, August 12, 2005 - 9:39 am: Edit Post

Again, this is a done deal. The Republicans control Congress, the White House, and the suggestion that legislation could be passed to change the military option in the peace corps is naive.
I did read the Vasquez letter and understand that reservists will not be receiving military pay while in the peace corps. However, their time in the peace corps will count towards their military benefit structure and that is a first. Also, there might be a legal challenge to the policy of reservists in the peace corps being treating differently than reservists in other services.
I do not understand the statement: "We can still say "hell no by making the desire to avoid military service by serving in the Peace Corps an automatic disqualification." We who?
The law says reservists can serve in the peace corps "without a disruption in their service."
PCVs take an oath to uphold the constitution and the laws of the land. This kind of talk is blowing smoke.

By Dan Carroll (cpe000f665a10df-cm00111adf6072.cpe.net.cable.rogers.com - on Monday, August 15, 2005 - 12:05 pm: Edit Post

I wrote a column on this topic:

"The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love...just got a little tougher, thanks to some help the U.S. Peace Corps didn't need."

Find it at The Wild Duck:


By Anonymous ( on Monday, July 09, 2007 - 2:18 pm: Edit Post

to Mr. John Coyne
Dear Sir,
I'm deeply grateful for yours advice about "How to write a novel in 100 days or less".
My name is Doina Badescu and I'm french and german teacher for V-VIII, I'm 49 and I'm from Romania.
Yours advice were genuine jewels for me because to us is very difficult to speak to any writer like they still living in a ivory tower.
Honestly, I wasn't a well-disciplined person (I mean - in writing) but after I read yours advice I have now my own program to write: 3 h daily in school time and now, in holiday time - 2 h in the morning an 2 h in the evening.For the weekend I wrote even 10 h (because I'm single).
I wrote few essay and just now I began to write a novel (about a serial killer) - these are the best sellers today (I mean, to us) -and as you advice us, I was in few library and I saw what kind of books are more buyng.Before I started, I read 2 criminologie books about the psychology of a serial killer. I have in my mind the schematic story, I mean that I know what I want to tell but... A friend of mine, to sell his first book (he succeded) he needed to take a pen name because the english writers are more seller than the others - I'm not saying about the classics.
But not only that, much more useful than any course of literature I ever learnt in my life, I mean to say that yours advice were very precious for me and motivated me to work harder for my english too (I learn by myself).
. About the scenes that don't lead anywhere -
it's true because I have maybe a dream in the night and in the morning I remake and it can be a nice scene but at the moment don't lead anywhere;
. For my characters I cut out few pictures from some magazine and I pin these on a board to accustom to theirs countemances:
. About the body language - that things that you told us it was very important because I almost forgot - I wrote about the voices, looks but... Thank you, Sir !
. About the reviw - it's true again that is necessary to wait because when I reviw first time, right after I wrote, I don't grasp the mistakes because in my mind remainded the text that just I wrote.
About the book's presentation and the way to find the right agent to represent us - all these things was new for us.
Unfortunately, I don't have a computer (that still a dream), right now I use the computer of a friend. I told you that because maybe you want to know much more about our country or anything else and if I shall be late with my answer, you have to know that is not because I'm disrespectful (because I'm not), only that it's not my computer and I don't have access any time.
When I said "us" I mean to say - we all which are interesting in yours advice; which read them on PC, unnamed, unknow person.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Sir J.Coyne !
Excuse, please, my poor english ! I'm work on it - in Romanian language I'm an expert (grammar, etymology...)
It was better and easier for me if I have the permission to write you a letter to the organization - I'm grateful and your work (you all) is overwhelming.
All my respect and gratitude,
Doina Badescu
Romania / jud. Arges
117715 Stefanesti
Bl. 16 sc. A ap. 21

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