Howard Williams writes: Among the straw men are "The Peace Corps is a Diplomatic Weapon."

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: April 1, 2008: Robert L. Strauss writes: The Peace Corps has never lived up to its purpose or principles : RPCVs Respond to the Strauss Article: Howard Williams writes: Among the straw men are "The Peace Corps is a Diplomatic Weapon."

By Admin1 (admin) (ppp-70-135-9-78.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - 70.135.9.78) on Sunday, April 27, 2008 - 8:53 pm: Edit Post

Howard Williams writes: Among the straw men are "The Peace Corps is a Diplomatic Weapon."

Howard Williams writes: Among the straw men are The Peace Corps is a Diplomatic Weapon.

Finally, the assertion that Peace Corps has an obligation to justify itself on a "development" yardstick, in comparison with other agencies, completely misses the point of what Peace Corps is. There simply is no such thing as a perfect "development" program. We used to tell volunteers, "Each aid agency has strengths and limitations and each has a unique role to play in development. Some have more money, some have national programs, and Peace Corps has people. You cannot judge one by comparing its limitations to the strengths of another -- and vice versa." I hope we will not lose sight of Peace Corps' unique contribution to local development, goodwill abroad, and Americans' understanding of the world in pursuit of making it look more "professional." If you ask any villager who they can count on to be there each day for them, you'll find that Peace Corps rates very well indeed.

Howard Williams writes: Among the straw men are "The Peace Corps is a Diplomatic Weapon."

Among the straw men are "The Peace Corps is a Diplomatic Weapon."

Peace Corps is a diplomatic asset, demonstrating the goodwill and basic decency of Americans that, taken with the work of USAID, other U.S. Agencies, and their PVO and NGO partners, show we care about more than ourselves and that a sense of service to others is a basic American characteristic.

Equally flawed is the assertion that volunteers are not sent to where they are needed and that whole countries can be "graduated," no longer benefiting sufficiently from volunteers' service. Anyone who works or travels in the field, outside the capital with its agency offices and well-appointed hotels, knows that access to resources and experience managing them is uneven and that there are populations within most countries that can benefit from volunteers' assistance.

For example, many developing countries, Cameroon no doubt included, find great difficulty recruiting qualified teachers to serve in rural and remote sites. Peace Corps volunteer teachers will go there and show up at their classes regularly and well prepared - something that local teachers often find challenging, given the other economic, social, and health demands they face each day. Students can count on PCVs to be there, in class, helping them learn.

Some countries with a greater overall resource base, like Romania, can benefit from American volunteers by their demonstrated sense of civic duty, resourcefulness, collegial approach to their work, and public transparency, traits that were not well rewarded under the former Soviet system. If a country director knowingly sent volunteers to assignments that were not needed, not useful, or not workable or that did not sufficiently engage the volunteers, as he claims, then he would have failed in his job as director. Complaints on that score are much akin to a ship's captain blaming the Navy for bad weather and rocks.

Denigrating generalizations about local people liking anyone attempting to speak their language and participate in local traditions, or that volunteers do not sufficiently demonstrate their commitment to service, are not supported by facts but by a condescending articulation about the nature of people, including the very volunteers he pledged to support.

Finally, the assertion that Peace Corps has an obligation to justify itself on a "development" yardstick, in comparison with other agencies, completely misses the point of what Peace Corps is. There simply is no such thing as a perfect "development" program. We used to tell volunteers, "Each aid agency has strengths and limitations and each has a unique role to play in development. Some have more money, some have national programs, and Peace Corps has people. You cannot judge one by comparing its limitations to the strengths of another -- and vice versa." I hope we will not lose sight of Peace Corps' unique contribution to local development, goodwill abroad, and Americans' understanding of the world in pursuit of making it look more "professional." If you ask any villager who they can count on to be there each day for them, you'll find that Peace Corps rates very well indeed.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: April, 2008; Criticism





When this story was posted in April 2008, this was on the front page of PCOL:


Contact PCOLBulletin BoardRegisterSearch PCOLWhat's New?

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers RSS Feed
Dodd vows to filibuster Surveillance Act Date: October 27 2007 No: 1206 Dodd vows to filibuster Surveillance Act
Senator Chris Dodd vowed to filibuster the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that would grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that helped this administration violate the civil liberties of Americans. "It is time to say: No more. No more trampling on our Constitution. No more excusing those who violate the rule of law. These are fundamental, basic, eternal principles. They have been around, some of them, for as long as the Magna Carta. They are enduring. What they are not is temporary. And what we do not do in a time where our country is at risk is abandon them."

Peace Corps News Peace Corps Library Peace corps History RPCV Directory Sign Up

March 2, 2008: This Month's Top Stories Date: March 2 2008 No: 1236 March 2, 2008: This Month's Top Stories
Bush Meets with PCVs in Ghana 20 Feb
Jack Vaughn writes: Candidates 'discover' Peace Corps 28 Feb
Dan Lavin is going back to Sierra Leone 25 Feb
Peace Corps Returns to Rwanda 19 Feb
Doug Roberts returns to Vanuatu where son died 17 Feb
Paul H. Johnson writes: Criticism of Peace Corps 12 Feb
Doctoral Fellowship created for RPCVs at UC Berkeley 11 Feb
Jessi Griffin recovering after accident in Mozambique 10 Feb
Super delegates like Pat Waak are super important 6 Feb
Peace Corps pulls its volunteers out of Kenya 5 Feb
Robert Whittemore starts African Film Festival 4 Feb
Heidi Vogt writes: Modernity arrives via Cellphone 1 Feb
Bush's PC pledge nothing more than hot air 31 Jan
P. F. Kluge speaks in Saipan 28 Jan
600 RPCVs work in NY City Schools 27 Jan
Jim Walsh will be missed in Congress 25 Jan
Wisconsin RPCVs sponsor Freeze for Food 23 Jan
Maria Shriver reflects on Sargent Shriver 21 Jan
Mae Jemison says King's dream is call to action 20 Jan
André-Guy Soh remembers John Granville 16 Jan
Gaddi Vasquez addresses Placentia Rotary 16 Jan

New: More Stories from January and February 2008

What is Wrong at the US Embassy in Bolivia? Date: February 10 2008 No: 1227 What is Wrong at the US Embassy in Bolivia?
Last summer Peace Corps Inspector General David Kotz cited the lack of cooperation from the US embassy in Bolivia in the search for missing Peace Corps Volunteer Walter Poirier III. Now a member of the US Embassy Staff in Bolivia is accused of asking Peace Corps Volunteers "to basically spy" on Cubans and Venezuelans in the country. Could US Ambassador Philip S.Goldberg please explain what is going on at the embassy that he has been running in La Paz since 2006?



Read the stories and leave your comments.








Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Foreign Policy

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Criticism

PCOL41244
99


Add a Message


This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.
Username:  
Password:
E-mail: