Establishing a Peace Academy

Senator Jennings Randolph (D-WV) has one more wish before he completes his four decades in the U.S. Congress at the end of this year. He wants to see the Congress enact legislation establishing a United States Academy of Peace. The burly lawmaker started in the House of Representatives in 1933. He has seen the effects of many wars and now, to use a phrase coined by Warren Wells, insists we must start “waging peace.”
Seems logical enough! Our country has four military academies to prepare young men and women in the skills of making war in order to keep the peace. Why riot just one Academy that will prepare Americans in the skills of making peace in order to avert war. Given that a major nuclear war can be called annihilation instead of warfare, developing the know-how and technology of “waging peace” makes good moral and economic sense.

Congress thought enough of the idea several years ago to create a Commission to hold public hearings on the proposal. In its report the Commission recommended creation of the Peace Academy not just because it is timely and cost-effective but most basically because “peace requires knowledge, judgment and skill no less complex than that which is required for war.”

I recalled some words by General Omar Bradley over thirty years ago on this point and retrieved them: %le have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we do about peace — more about killing than we do about living.”

What would the late and wise General say today -‑ trillions of dollars in arms and millions in human casualties later. He too, one expects, would urge passage of the Peace Academy bill, now sponsored by 50 Senators and 150 Representatives. This is the same Congress that authorized about $200 billion in military spending last year, yet Capitol Hill is balking at spending $20 million to create the U.S. Academy of Peace.

Resolving conflicts is a discipline that is responsive to hard work and creative thinking and testing. Senator Matsunaga (D-Hawaii) described the mission of the academy as research, graduate and postgraduate programs, workshops and application of advanced knowledge to real conflict situations. “The Peace Academy,” he declares, “would select top-notch people from all walks of life, give them the finest training possible in the techniques of peace-making and move them to positions in government, private organizations, armed forces, corporations, labor unions and international organizations.”

A worldwide reserve of experts at peacemaking can be available to cool off trouble spots before they reach the explosive point, writes Milton Mapes, Jr., executive director of the non-profit National Peace Academy Campaign (110 Maryland Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002) organized to push for this legislation.

Researching the causes of peace, training leaders in conflict resolution and mediation must become part of our country’s national security policy, according to Notre Dame president, Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh. “We need to create an affirmative peacemaking capability as strong as our military capability,” the experienced civic leader wrote two years ago.

Citizen and religious groups with millions of members have endorsed this Peace Academy bill. Nothing is moving in Congress, however. Why? Well, have you read or seen any mass media reporting or discussion on this proposal? It is not dramatic enough. Television is much quicker to report wars, riots or other forms of violence than something as dull as a peacemaking idea with real examples of how such skills have worked in recent years. “The Peace Academy??”, sniffed one TV newsman, “might as well show dry oatmeal.”

One wag suggested that newspapers and television would cover the Peace Academy initiative if thousands of people massed in an unruly melee around the Congress holding up signs of “Riots for the Academy.” There is a sorry insight in this absurd scenario. Isn’t there, CBS, NBC and ABC? Isn’t there, you television watchers?

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