January 31, 2002 - Providence Journal Bulletin : Former Director Mark Gearan comments on President Bush's plans for the Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2002: 01 January 2002 Peace Corps Headlines: January 31, 2002 - Providence Journal Bulletin : Former Director Mark Gearan comments on President Bush's plans for the Peace Corps

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, February 04, 2002 - 9:01 am: Edit Post

Former Director Mark Gearan comments on President Bush's plans for the Peace Corps

Read and comment on excerpts from a story from the Providence Journal Bulletin that include Former Director Mark Gearan's comments on President Bush's plans for doubling the size of the Peace Corps at:

Bush calls for more AmeriCorps, Peace Corps volunteers *

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Bush calls for more AmeriCorps, Peace Corps volunteers

Jan 31, 2002 - Providence Journal Bulletin Author(s): John E. Mulligan, Journal Washington Bureau

* Among Rhode Islanders, the president draws praise for his proposal to boost volunteers in inner-city schools.

* * *

WASHONGTON - President Bush proposed yesterday "to capture this new spirit" of support for the war on terror with a homeland- security volunteer force and a sharply expanded Peace Corps.

Mr. Bush called for doubling the Peace Corps to 200,000 volunteers and urged it "to go into the Islamic world to spread the message of economic development."

Mr. Bush's proposal aired in general terms in his State of the Union speech was notable for its bipartisan roots and its break with the concerns that fellow conservatives have often raised about federal sponsorship of volunteer efforts.

The Peace Corps was created under President John F. Kennedy, AmeriCorps under President Bill Clinton. Mr. Bush made a point yesterday of crediting "my old rival," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for championing an expanded AmeriCorps.

"It was a good speech for those of us that care about service," especially considering the conservative opposition to AmeriCorps since its creation in 1993, said Mark Gearan, who was President Clinton's Peace Corps director.

While applauding Mr. Bush's initiative, former Peace Corps director Gearan warned that it is important not to trade Peace Corps independence for the efficient coordination that the White House umbrella agency might bring.

"The Peace Corps cannot be seen as an arm of foreign policy, of the State Department and, for the good of the volunteers, can't be seen in any way as an intelligence-gathering body," Gearan said.

He noted, for example, that Peace Corps outposts have always been located outside of American embassies.

Two decades ago, Peace Corps independence became a hot issue under another conservative president who embarked on an expansion of U.S. military might. At the time, the Peace Corps and domestic volunteer agencies operated under an umbrella agency that reported to the White House.

Congressional Democrats came to fear that President Ronald Reagan's appointee in that agency, a former intelligence officer, might compromise Peace Corps autonomy. The Democrats forced the separation of the Peace Corps into an independent unit.

Gearan said that, while Peace Corps volunteers have long been assigned to Islamic nations, Mr. Bush's call for more work in that arena is proper, given the "changed geopolitical situation since Sept. 11."

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By Joanne Marie Roll (joey) on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 6:52 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps needs to be restructured so that it can maintain its indepedence and be insulated from partisan politics. My suggestion is that a public corporation be created, directed by a board of commissiners-RPCVS, all-appointed by the President to staggered terms and approved by the Senate, but otherwise independent. The Board would hire a Director to run the Peace Corps-recruit, train, place and support Volunteers. A second component overseen by the Board would be a Program Evaluation unit reporting to the Board and not the Director. The Evaluation Unit would be independent of the recruiting cycle. I would really appreciate hearing what other RPCVs think of this idea.

By Roy Weldon (weldon) on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 9:39 pm: Edit Post

I agree with former post about the plan to make sure that the Peace Corps stays independent from the partisan politics. The question is will it be able to be implemented in the future due to Bush's pressure to take control of the Peace Corps? It is again a time when the RPCV community needs to let their will be known to the powers that be in a variety of consturctive and forcefull ways so that Peace Corps stays insilated. What do you think? Write and let your self be heard.

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