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 Editor in chief: 
Abdus Sattar Ghazali

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Mertze Dahlin   

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Disclaimer and Fair Use Notice: Many articles on this web site are written by independent individuals or organizations. Their opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the Journal of America and its affiliates. They are put here for interest and reference only. More details
 

AWSC’s congressional proposals to
revive Kennedy’s Peace Corps vision

By Dwayne Hunn

Which is it?  Were our leaders merely misinformed into Vietnam and Iraq ?  Or were Americans dumbed-down enough to be led into stupid, costly policies in those arenas?  

People who read the Journal are likely to be well educated and traveled.  Many of its writers may be PhDd, or Piled Higher with Degrees.  Joe Six pack is not likely to read here.  Yet, Joe and his buds comprise the audience most needing smart public policies.  Hardworking Joes used to learn, understand, and trust people by sweating, building, and serving with them.  Those toughened and enlightened by gritty real world service know more about bettering the world than those spewing neo-theories from ivory towers or eight sided fortresses. 

From the 1950s - 70s, America 's growing middle class had the opportunity to grow their understanding of America and the world.  During that period we lost too many visionary leaders, got too comfortable, and myopically felt that we were always right, and better.  Less than visionary leaders played on these weakening traits to push Americans into shopping more, rather than sweating, building, and serving more.  

Today we are gathering on a great battlefield of that civil shopping war, testing whether that visionary or materialistic nation will long endure.  

How does the once overwhelmingly inventive America endure in a Global Village approaching seven billion, where about two billion survive on a couple bucks a day?  How does Middle America grow stronger when corporations know they can outsource Sixpack’s paychecks to those willing to work for crumbs in dastardly environments?    

A powerful America won’t survive by wasting four trillion investable dollars in propagating mythical Vietnam dominoes and nonexistent Iraqi terrorists’ weapons, while coupling such costly propaganda with policies that further decimate our once growing middle class.  

The answer to regaining America ’s rapidly fading greatness?   

Involve a lot more Joe Sixpacks, PhDs, and those in between in service that builds common sense, community, and insights for which barn building America was once revered.  In March of 1961, John Kennedy birthed the Peace Corps to do that.  Former Senator Harris Wofford, an advisor to Kennedy who helped establish the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps, recounts how that American window of opportunity to improve the world opened …and then quickly closed:

    "He told me he (JFK) wanted the Peace Corps to reach 100,000 a year," Wofford recalled.  "He said it would then be considered serious.  In one decade, it would reach 1 million volunteers."

Over thirty-seven years later, the Peace Corps can claim that 190,000 have served and trained, meaning perhaps 150,000 completed service.

Had Kennedy’s vision been enacted, tens of millions of Americans would have served around the world by now.  So many global village needs would have been met that terrorists and terrorism would have been dramatically reduced.   

In the Vietnam from which Kennedy planned to remove us, we lost 58,000 Americans, wasted millions of Asians, and diverted $500+ billion from healthy investments.  For what we spent from 1965-1974 on sending 2.71 million troops into Vietnam ’s killing fields, we could have blanketed the world with about 46.6 million Peace Corps volunteers.    

Had we implemented Kennedy’s vision, would today’s middle class and economy be stronger?  The world healthier and safer?  Terrorists fewer?    

The Kennedy administration had enough vision.  What it lacked was enough law to implement the vision.  

During People’s Lobby’s initiative law making days, Ed and Joyce Koupal consistently drilled into our steering board the code that America ’s citizens should use to build a saner world:

      “This country runs on laws.  If you want to change the country, write its laws.”

People’s Lobby’s (PLI) American World Service Corps (AWSC) Congressional Proposals insures that what we lost in losing Kennedy’s Peace Corps vision will not be lost again for this generation.  Many more citizens, however, need to help PLI educate Americans and lobby Congress to introduce and pass PLI’s proposed AWSC law.  www.PeoplesLobby.us  

Over the last two years, all the presidential campaigns and over two hundred congressional offices were informed of PLI’s proposals.  With a personal letter, phone calls, and emails, Senator Obama and his staff have been the most responsive.  His talks are peppered with calls for increased national service and volunteerism that moves toward People’s Lobby’s AWSC.  Kudos are deserved for such visionary calls to action.  But with so many big problems facing us and the world, we need PLI’s more robust AWSC.  

History has taught us that vision is not enough.  The vision was there with JFK, RFK, and MLK.  The law that would have carried their vision of service and character building forward was missing in action.  PLI’s non-partisan, citizen-initiated AWSC Congressional Proposals provides the law that implements the lofty vision.  

If enacted in this Congress, each year for the next seven years approximately 140,000 Americans would voluntarily choose to serve in their choice of the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Habitat for Humanity, Head Start, Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross, International Rescue Committee, OxFam, Mercy Corps, State Conservation Corps, etc.  By the seventh year, one million American World Service Corps volunteers of all ages, or less than .4th of 1% of those aged 18-70+, would annually serve for a year or two at home or abroad in the aforementioned and other existing governmental and non-governmental organizations.  After 20 years, Congress could consider sun setting the AWSC legislation.  Key AWSC proposal is at http://www.worldservicecorps.us/world%20service%20key%20proposal%202yr%20volunteer.htm

Twenty-one million American volunteers over the next twenty-seven years would robustly address poverty, climate change, ignorance, and hatreds, while raising our public policy IQ.  With such involvement and learning in and from the world, we would cease wasting trillions on costly wars that bleed our troops and the world’s economies, while brewing additional costly hatreds.  Imagine how many AWSC volunteers could serve at home or abroad using today’s $3+ trillion Iraqi invasion budget?  

Although congressional staffers have expressed the likelihood that their bosses would be open to co-sponsorship, those who hesitate on being the original sponsor generally raise two concerns. 

         Shouldn’t we start with a smaller program?

         How do we fund it? 

 The succinct responses are:

         “How bad must it get before we field a powerful offense to overcome poverty, disasters, ignorance, and terrorist recruitment?”

         “The AWSC proposals have eight traditional and four non-traditional funding mechanisms that cover this needed investment in Americans, while reducing our military costs by much more than investing in building the needed 21st century AWSC costs.”  (Financing AWSC http://www.worldservicecorps.us/financing_awsc.htm )

 In Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Eritrea, United Arab Republic, Kuwait, Turkey, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Indonesia,  about 910 million mostly Muslims reside.  We have about 50 Peace Corps volunteers (PCVs), all in Jordan , serving and learning there.  The last time a PCV served in Pakistan was 1967, then 88-91, Afghanistan 1979, Iran 1976, and Iraq – never.  

In today’s festering Global Village, relying on politicians’ promises of “increasing diplomatic efforts…” is not enough.  Today we must peacefully involve red necked and blue nosed Americans in our and the world’s problems on a level close to the 1.5+ million involved through our military.  The quicker we do that, the quicker smarter, visionary policies will make the world safer and saner.  

Help People’s Lobby educate and lobby Congress to make PLI’s AWSC Congressional Proposals happen.  Read the legislation and help at www.WorldServiceCorps.us.   

Dwayne Hunn Ph.D., Executive Director of People’s Lobby, served in the Peace Corps, worked on several Habitat building projects, and was on the start up team of the California Conservation Corps.