Save the United States Institute of Peace
Urgent Action: U.S. House votes to Deauthorize Institute
1. Sign the Petition
2. Call your Senators at 202-224-3121 and Urge them to Save the USIP
On Thursday, May 26th, 2011 the U.S. House voted 226-194 in favor of repealing Title XXII of the Department of Defense Authorization Act, 1985, which authorized the establishment of the United States Institute of Peace. This would likely eliminate it altogether.
It is clear that many members of the U.S. House (and elsewhere) are on a committed mission to fully eliminate the U.S. Institute of Peace. After a partial victory recently to secure funding through this fiscal year, we are being called once again to take a strong stand for its very existence.
To put it mildly, this is a stunning development that could prove to be a serious setback for the work of peacebuilding around the world and a blow to the growing movement we’ve been seeing for peacebuilding investment in our government.
The United States Institute of Peace Act, passed by the Congress and signed into law in 1984, established the Institute as a publicly funded national institution. Congressional leaders spearheading the charge to eliminate U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that USIP is a “waste of taxpayer money.”
Even the relatively small investment in USIP is one of the smartest investments the US government can make. As one of the only institutions in Federal government working to support peacebuilding, the Institute desperately needs our support.
Iraq would have further spiraled out of control had USIP not existed.
When the situation on the ground in Iraq seemed it could not get any worse, our country turned to USIP for answers. USIP President Richard Solomon writes: “When Congress needed a forward-looking bipartisan commission to evaluate U.S. options in Iraq, they turned to USIP. Under the co-chairmanship of former Secretary of State James A. Baker and Rep. Lee Hamilton, we gathered input from many organizations to produce what became a widely recognized guide to dealing with Iraq: The Iraq Study Group.”
According to General David Petreas: “In Iraq the Institute stepped up to the plate beginning in August 2007 to assist the 10th Mountain Division in a reconciliation effort in Mahmoudiya, a community on the southern edge of Baghdad that was once known as the ‘Triangle of Death. Since then, General Odierno and I have often cited Mahmouidya as a striking success story.” Before USIP mediated between conflicting Iraqi tribes, dozens of American soldiers died in the region. After USIP’s intervention, only one US serviceman lost his life. General Patreas concludes: “USIP’s continuing reconciliation efforts at the community levelÉ hold great promise for the future.”
USIP has also played a critical role in Afghanistan. According to General Patreus: “USIP’s work on the informal justice system has been invaluable as we work toward improving rule of law at the provincial level. Their plans for reconciliation efforts at the community level on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border are likewise a potential key to success in the enormous challenges we face.”
USIP has a proven track-record as the pioneering US institute advancing peacebuilding on our behalf, a bright light emanating from our nation throughout some of the darkest corners on the planet. USIP’s budget shouldn’t be cut, it should be increased!
Prevention and nonviolent intervention pays off. There is a temptation, and it far too often turns out to be the reality, that we cut prevention and intervention programs first when budgets get tight. That’s true from the community level all the way up to national – and it’s exactly the opposite of what we should do, both from a fiscal and moral perspective. This is an issue we must stand behind. We cannot allow the USIP to slip away. Take action today.