Future Autonomy of the Peace Corps, Etc.

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: December 3, 2004: Promises not funded are promises not kept: Preservation of an Independent Peace Corps -- Act to keep it so: Future Autonomy of the Peace Corps, Etc.

By Jim Fox, RPCV on Tuesday, March 05, 2002 - 12:35 am: Edit Post

Future Autonomy of the Peace Corps, Etc.

If decades of fundamental Peace Corps principles and local autonomy are not to be sacrificed for some hypocritical, political pandering, it's time to speak up.

Peace Corps MUST remain independent of the (present) political process. It must never ever be part of intelligence gathering, covert operations, propaganda or political, commercial agendas. It MUST maintain an absolute arms-length, firewall, disconnect from even the appearance of any such activities. One PCV in our group accepted a free (CIA?) vacation air ticket, and was instantly terminated and sent home by PC. Is no-tollerance contact still the policy?

I used to joke that the dumbest place for US to be was between Arabs and Jews. Then, I complained that it was gross stupidity to turn our backside to the huge Islamic world. Little could I suspect where we are today. It's just inexcusable cultural insensitivity, or worse.

The present US adoption of Europe's ancient "Christian Crusade" against "the eeevil heathen" (meaning any opposition to rampant economic imperialism), has created new risks of random retaliation, where none existed only one-year ago. This has a direct risk impact on World Travelers and Peace Corps Volunteers. It's a done deal; and now we can only deal with it. The story however, I fear is half yet told.

Under normal conditions, I would consider an umbrella organization unifying the various aid and volunteer arms, a possibly good thing. At the present however, when faith-based organizations receive "payback" governmental funding; when the military is scrambling for propaganda and mis-information outlets; when the government if being sold to the highest contributor, and when the US claims unilateral worldwide autonomy; I trust none of this.

Peace Corps MUST be run by ex-PCV's who learned cultural sensitivity and real-politik the hard way. PC MUST be run by those who have the sensitivity to understand where various PCV's (naive and experienced) can be safely placed. We must not throw thousands of sacrificial sheep into the fields and then express horror when some wolf attacks.

The Administration calls for reaching out to the Islamic World and for using PCV's in Islamic countries to facilitate communication and understanding. Excuse me. Great idea, but sorry guys you are too late. We have been there all along. But, we have been pulled out (the new groups in Bangladesh), and now dare not go back in.

Believe it or not, there are some really irritated people out there, and legions of Peace Corp Volunteers can't "make it all well."

All 4-years of my PCV and PC-Staff service were in Islamic countries. I've been all across the Mideast / Indian Subcontinent. I've continuously said our policies were dangerous, but nobody listened. Yes, we needed to reach out, but it is now too late.

Iran was so close to opening up to us. However, The stupid "eeevil-axis" attack on Iran set us back 10-years. Or, was it really a threat "Give us your oil, or we will destroy you like Afghanistan?

Throwing PCV's out there to band-aid our blatantly, anti-Islamic fundamentalist Christian pandering is hypocritical at best, and dangerously too little, too late.

Things are explosively out of control and those of us who have lived and been there must speak out.

By Anne Pliska on Thursday, March 14, 2002 - 10:38 am: Edit Post

Peace Corps needs to remain separate, not combined with Americorps. Americorps has yet to build up a strong, positive, influencial and consistent program. Putting these two programs together would be ridiculous, Peace Corps doesn't need an organization like Americorps hanging on its coattails!

By Joanne Marie Roll (joey) on Sunday, March 17, 2002 - 10:27 pm: Edit Post

I read a letter in the Denver Post, today, written by Lewis J. Thompson on patriotism and it make me think of all of you. He wrote: "Just as there is no hope for the satisfied man, neither is there hope for the patriot who lacks heart equity in the values his country purports to serve."
Through all the months of these passionate and at times cantankerous debates, here, divided by generation and gender; program and country; political values and experience, what it is that we do share..in this Peace Corps; in this country and in this world...is heart equity.

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