February 18, 2011 Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) introduced a Bill to the House of Representatives to establish a ‘Department of Peace’ as a new Cabinet level office. The Bill is H.R. 808: Department of Peace Act of 2011, which can be found here, and the Department would have the following mission:
SEC. 101. ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT OF PEACE.
(c) Mission- The Department shall–(1) hold the cultivation of peace as a strategic national policy objective;(2) reduce and prevent violence in the United States and internationally through peacebuilding and effective nonviolent conflict resolution;(3) strengthen nonmilitary means of peacemaking;(4) work to create peace, prevent violence, prevent armed conflict, use field-tested programs, and promote best practices in nonviolent dispute resolution;(5) take a proactive, strategic approach in the development of policies that promote national and international conflict prevention, nonviolent intervention, mediation, peaceful resolution of conflict, and structured mediation of conflict;(6) address matters both domestic and international in scope;(7) provide an institutional platform for the growing wealth of expertise in peacebuilding to dramatically reduce the national and global epidemic of violence;(8) support local communities in finding, funding, replicating, and expanding programs to reduce and prevent violence;(9) invest in non-governmental organizations that have implemented successful initiatives to reduce and prevent violence, both internationally and domestically; and(10) work with other government agencies to apply and practice the science of peacebuilding in their respective fields of responsibility.
Now we all want peace, but to establish a cabinet level department for it seems unnecessary, especially in a time where most Americans have made it clear that they want less government, not more bureaucracy.
To quote the bill, this new Department would cost at minimum $10 billion of U.S. taxpayer money, 85 percent of which would be spent at home telling Americans how to play nice:
SEC. 113. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.
There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this Act for a fiscal year beginning after the date of the enactment of this Act $10,000,000,000 for each fiscal year. Of the amounts appropriated pursuant to such authorization, at least 85 percent shall be used for domestic peace programs, including administrative costs associated with such programs.
It would also supplant the decision making capabilities of the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense in a time of crisis:
SEC. 112. CONSULTATION REQUIRED.
(a) Consultation in Cases of Conflict- (1) In any case in which a conflict between the United States and any other government or entity is imminent or occurring, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State shall consult with the Secretary concerning nonviolent means of conflict resolution.
This means that the Secretaries of Defense and State would have to consult with the ‘Secretary of Peace’ before they could take action. This could very possibly result in a National Security risk and would hamper the effectiveness of the Secretaries of State and Defense to defend this country.
This new Department would also have the domestic power to completely interfere in the lives of American citizens, obstructing the duties of the Attorney General and duplicating many efforts of the Department of Justice:
SEC. 102. RESPONSIBILITIES AND POWERS.
(b) Domestic Responsibilities- The Secretary shall–
(1) develop policies that address domestic violence, including spousal abuse, child abuse, and mistreatment of the elderly;
(2) create new policies and programs and expand existing policies and programs that effectively reduce drug and alcohol abuse;
(3) develop new policies and programs and expand existing policies and programs that effectively address crime, punishment, and rehabilitation, including–
(A) working to reduce prison recidivism rates;
(B) supporting the implementation of nonviolent conflict resolution education and training for victims, perpetrators, and those who work with them; and
(C) supporting effective police and community relations;
(4) analyze existing policies, employ successful, field-tested programs, and develop new approaches for dealing with the tools of violence, including handguns, especially among youth;
(5) analyze existing policies and develop new policies to address violence against animals;
(6) develop new and expand current effective programs that relate to the societal challenges of school violence, gangs, racial or ethnic violence, violence against gays and lesbians, and police-community relations disputes;
(7) make policy recommendations to the Attorney General regarding civil rights and labor law;
(8) assist in the establishment and funding of community-based violence prevention programs, including violence prevention counseling and peer mediation in schools and unarmed civilian peacekeeping at a local level;
(9) counsel and advocate on behalf of women victimized by violence;
(10) provide for public education programs and counseling strategies concerning hate crimes;
(11) promote racial, religious, and ethnic tolerance; and
(12) finance local community initiatives that can draw on neighborhood resources to create peace projects that facilitate the development of conflict resolution at a national level and thereby inform and inspire national policy.
The goals of this endeavor are laudable but unfortunately they will not translate into reality. Establishing a new Department level office will only increase the level of bureaucracy in the government and lead to an expansion of regulation. The responsibilities of this new Department are already incorporated as parts of other Departments, namely the Departments of State, Justice, and Defense. We do not need to complicate these agencies’s roles or dilute their authority to defend the United States. Everyone wants peace, but we do not need a new layer of bureaucracy to tell us how to achieve it. Brittany Baldwin at the Heritage Foundation put it as follows:
The biggest problem is the underlying belief that government programs can transform human nature. A Department of Peace, it claims, would promote a “higher evolution of the human awareness” and “tap the infinite capabilities of humanity.” Some of us still cling to Madison’s view that men are not angels, and we recognize that human selfishness is never going to disappear. Our efforts to promote peace must rest on a sober assessment of human nature—one that understands human weaknesses, not one that assumes humans’ “infinite capabilities” to eradicate violence.
We do not need to spend $10 billion to tell people how to get along. Establishing this Department would only promote an expansion of government that is not healthy, nor is it necessary. Contact your Representative today.