Ending the scourge of violence in the United States and across the planet requires more than suppressing violence. Lasting peace requires its active and systematized cultivation at every level of government and society. The U.S. Department of Peace will coordinate and spur the efforts we need to make our country and the world a safer place. Nothing short of broad-scale investment and government reorientation can truly turn things around.
Both domestically and internationally, we must dramatically ramp up the use of proven powers of peace-building, including dialogue, mediation, conflict resolution, economic and social development, restorative justice, public health approaches to violence prevention, trauma-informed systems of care, social and emotional learning in schools, and many others.
“I believe our country’s way of dealing with security issues is increasingly obsolete. We have the finest military force in the world, however we can no longer rely on force alone to rid ourselves of international enemies. The planet has become too small for that, and in so doing, we overburden our military by asking them to compensate for the other work that we choose not to do. We are less effective, and less secure, because of that,” said Williamson.
As its mission, the U.S. Department of Peace will; hold peace as an organizing principle; promote justice and democratic principles to expand human rights; coordinate restorative justice programs; address white supremacy; strengthen nonmilitary means of peacemaking; work to prevent armed conflict; address the epidemic of gun violence; develop new structures of nonviolent dispute resolution; and proactively and systematically promote national and international conflict prevention, mediation, and resolution. In short, we must wage peace. "Large groups of desperate people," said Williamson, "should be seen as a national security risk."
The Department will create and establish a Peace Academy, modeled after the military service academies, which will provide a 4-year concentration in peace education. Graduates will be required to serve 5 years in public service in programs dedicated to domestic or international nonviolent conflict resolution.
The Secretary of Peace will serve as a member of the National Security Council and will be empowered to coordinate with all Cabinet agencies – including the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Education, Justice, and State, and the new Department of Children and Youth.
Initial funding for the U.S. Department of Peace will come from the consolidation of existing peace-building and violence-reducing efforts within the Federal government. As the Department becomes effective in its work, a true “peace dividend,” reflecting a declining domestic and international need for the instruments of violence, it will more than fund the costs of the Department’s activities.
A new U.S. Department of Peace will coordinate our efforts to make our country a safer place. It will work actively and interactively with every branch of government on policy matters related to both international and domestic peace issues.
Peace-building is both preferable to and less costly than war. We spend more on our military than the next nine largest militaries in the world. The United States and China spend half the $18 trillion global military spend, both growing at about 5 percent annually. As has become evident in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, as well as against terrorist enemies like ISIS, at best our military can solve part of the issue, leaving the true, underlying problems unaddressed. Even with these expenditures, the economic impact of violence to the global economy was nearly $15 trillion in 2017, or 12.4 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).
Domestically, the need for coordinated effort to end violence in our country is also greater than ever. Too many of our citizens, and in particular our children, fear violence on a daily basis. One hundred Americans die of gun violence every day. We have areas in our inner cities called "domestic war zones." From gang and drug violence, to mass shootings even in our schools, to bullying and sexual violence, the United States is riddled with violence. We have not yet addressed it holistically or in an integrated fashion. While we treat symptoms, we do not treat cause. It is time to coordinate our efforts across the Federal government, working with states, corporations, communities, parents and schools – one singular nation focused on programmatic efforts that actually work to bring about healing and peace.
And we need to do this now. Americans are more likely to die every year from gun violence than they are to die in a war. We have more deaths of children and teachers from school shootings than any other country in the world. We have more gun violence in our cities than any other industrialized country. And we have more people imprisoned than any other country in the world.
How will we pay for the U.S. Department of Peace?
If properly and completely implemented, the U.S. Department of Peace could actually save United States taxpayers an enormous amount of money. Avoiding costly wars abroad and reducing violence in the United States will decrease our federal budget.
Along with the long-term savings that come from implementing this kind of work on a broad scale, there should be few extra immediate costs involved. This department will focus on reallocating existing budgets in more appropriate and coordinated ways to keep, maintain and create sustainable peace. The key funding question for the U.S. Department of Peace is simply a matter of changing where the money goes, with a renewed focus on peace-building, humanitarian aid and development as a key to our national security. On the domestic front, there are incredible monetary costs to domestic violence in the United States that can be drastically reduced with coordinated violence prevention efforts.
U. S. Department of Peace Specifics
Domestically, the U.S. Department of Peace will work to:
Provide much-needed assistance to efforts by city, county, and state governments in coordinating existing programs; as well as develop new programs based on best practices nationally.
Teach violence prevention and conflict resolution to America’s school children.
Effectively treat and dismantle gang psychology.
Reform our criminal justice system towards a focus on restorative and healing oriented approaches rather than punitive alone.
Reshape our prison system by addressing racial inequalities and recidivism.
Rehabilitate the prison population.
Foster strategies to eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline. Work closely with the newly formed Dept. of Children and Youth to teach violence prevention methods in the schools.
Build peace-making efforts among conflicting cultures both here and abroad
Work with local and state governments to help change police culture and the way that police work with our communities, with the goal of fostering improved relations.. Return to community policing.
Work with local and state governments to lessen gun violence on a national level..
Address factors such as drug and alcohol abuse, mistreatment of the elderly, and much more.
Internationally, the U.S. Department of Peace will focus on the following areas among others:
Provide peace-building support to assist governments and communities in attempts to end conflicts, instead of providing military aid which often prolongs conflicts
Provide and help coordinate humanitarian assistance around the world to help people and governments get out of their current crises, and have a chance to build peaceful lives in the future. Particular emphasis on these factors which are known to increase peace and decrease conflict: expanded economic opportunities for women, expanded educational opportunities for children, reduction of violence against women, and the amelioration of unnecessary human despair. This is as true of a neighborhood in an American inner city as it is true of a village in a far off corner of the world.
Humanitarian assistance may also include aid for things like food security, health care, refugee assistance, regenerative agriculture, and a variety of other types of aid.
Provide community building and rebuilding assistance to aid people and countries in creating a more sustainable, peaceful culture that will help to prevent future conflicts.
Support our military with complementary approaches to peacebuilding.
Create and administer a U.S. Peace Academy, acting as a sister organization to the U.S. Military Academy.
The Secretary of the Department of Peace, and the department, will advise the Secretaries of Defense and State on matters related to national security, and will coordinate peacemaking efforts across these departments.