The following op-ed article in the Baltimore Sun is co-authored by Arthur Obermayer, a prominent founding member of the board of Meretz USA.
The United States can win any war on the battlefield, but we have not learned how to win the peace. We are losing the fight to win over the people we are trying to help. But there is a way to right our course for the future – by looking to our past ….
The one government entity with a positive record in this area is the Peace Corps. But despite the Peace Corps’ success since its inception in 1961, its budget has remained small.
President John F. Kennedy wanted 100,000 volunteers overseas within 10 years. Today – although 20 additional nations are seeking Peace Corps help and three times as many volunteers apply as can be accommodated – budgetary limitations have kept the number of volunteers down to 8,000. However, there are 190,000 alumni, represented by the National Peace Corps Association. They yearn for continuing involvement in a mission that has transformed not only their lives and those of people they have helped but also their perspectives on the world.
Among the alumni is Connecticut Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, who served as a volunteer in the Dominican Republic. Based on that experience, he is sponsoring a bill to double the size of the Peace Corps. In the months after 9/11, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and President Bush both advocated major growth of the Peace Corps. Unfortunately, there was little follow-up. Click here for this entire article, published in the Baltimore Sun, Nov. 27.