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United States Institute of Peace: A strategy for a stable peace



The world constantly faces the choice: live in peace or destroy yourself. The two American presidents I admire most, Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Hoover, realized that. Both were betrayed, Wilson by the Senate, to the dismay not only of Wilson but also of of Herbert Hoover, who realized that peace is not a party issue. In his book The Ordeal of Woodrow Wilson, Hoover expressed his deep sympathy and admiration for Wilson. To promote his ideal. Hoover founded at Stanford two institutions: the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace and the Food Research Institute, since he realized that hunger is a major impediment to a peaceful world. His hopes were traduced. The Food Research Institute was taken over by economists. Hoover fought with its director Karl Brandt, a German refugee whom he accused of denying that there was famine in the world. The Institute devoted itself to the theoretical study of agricultural economics; after Hoover's death, it was abolished, and its personnel and resources absorbed by the Economics Department. A major responsibility for the Stanford administration is to ensure that the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace maintain as its primary aim the study of peace and the means of promoting it, as Hoover wished. There is an important model: the United States Institute of Peace", which describes itself as "an independent institution established by Congress to strengthen the nations's capacity to promote peaceful resolution of international conflicts".

The world moved toward sanity after World War II. The United Nations was established, and its future now seems assured, although the Balkans and Afghanistan are putting great strains on it. I have just received The Year in Review. UN Peace Operations in 2001. It shows how UN personnel are working around the world promoting peace in extremely difficult circumstances. Numerous unofficial organizations like Médicins sans Frontières perform important tasks in alleviating disease, hunger and the tragic consequences of war such as death and injury by land mines.

No country wishes to be accused of waging aggressive war, so war departments have been renamed defense departments. The US has gone further: it has created the aforementioned United States Institute of Peace. I know of no other government which has anything like it. (I believe the Stockholm Peace Institute is entirely private). It has its own press, which is now celebrating its tenth anniversary. The catalog is impressive. I like the title Herding Cats. Multiparty Mediation in a Complex World. It applies perfectly to Afghanistan.

An important book is A Strategy for Stable Peace. Toward a Euroatlantic Security Community, by James Goodby, Petrus Buwalda and Dmitri Trenin. James Goodby is a well-known American, Betrus Wuwalda a Dutch diplomat, and Dmitri Trenin a Russian security expert.The Bush administration began with its view fixed on Mexico and Latin America, but events have forced it to look east. The book discusses the nuclear weapons issue, making it clear that the fate of START I and II is a serious issue. I was startled by the announcement just made that the US plans to build a base in Kyrgyzstan, plonk in the heart of Central Asia. The book says it would be shortsighted to view the Russian-Western relationship in this region as though it were a revival of the "Great Game" of the nineteenth century. I have seen no report on the Russian reaction to the proposed new base, which could turn out to be Russia's Cuba, if things go sour.

This takes us back to Latin America, which goes unmentioned in this volume, despite the fact that Bush once treated it as the American priority in international affairs. While I favor good relations and cooperation with Russia, it has long been my hope that there would be a Euroatlantic community, including Latin America, as the expression implies. One of the many tragedies of history was the rivalry between England and Spain, which now enjoy warm cooperation; the US, once the feared "Colossus of the North" promotes good relations with Latin America. After all, that whole Atlantic area is part of the same Western civilization. Unfortunately, as the book's silence implies, Latin America is not ready to play its part. Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia and bankrupt Argentina are all causes of major concern, and another Afghanistan may develop there. By sending Blackhawk helicopters to Colombia, the US has shown that it is aware of this danger and is determined to stop it. Perhaps the United States Institute of Peace should consider another volume on a Euroatlantic Community in the true meaning of the term. However, I would not include Africa, which would be a deadweight. Perhaps we should speak of a Euroatlantic Triangle.

Ronald Hilton - 1/13/02


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