Jeffrey LewisDepartment of Peace

Anybody remember the “Department of Peace” proposal? Representative Dennis Kucinich (R-OH) has proposed legislation to create a DOP; Conservatives ridicule the idea. Even my fellow Democrats in Washington react to the idea with a mixture of derision and embarrassment; One liberal blogger called it “sublime kookiness.”

In all the giggling (which, I admit, Kucinich has a tendency to inspire) is the central fact that the President does need a counterweight to the E-ring, which having only a hammer seems to see a lot of nails around the world. The Arms Control and Disarmament Agency was created by President Kennedy on the advice of the outgoing Eisenhower Administration:

The new organization – originally dubbed the “Peace Agency” – had grown out of an inspiration of the 1960 presidential campaign, as the beginning of what its creators hoped would be “a countervailing force” to the Pentagon. Herken, Counsels of War, 1985, p.183.

ACDA played an important institutional role in advancing arms control measures, including the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, until 1999 when Jesse Helms and the GOP Congress completed a near-decade long effort to abolish the agency. If ACDA were really ineffectual, Helms and Gingrich wouldn/’t have been so keen to kill it. The Clinton Administration eventually assisted the GOP in order to bolster its New Democrat, “reinventing goverment” credentials.

Having watched the Vice President and the Pentagon systematically undermine W./’s confidence in the inspections that successfully disarmed Iraq, maybe you see why JFK and Ike supported ACDA? Hammer, nails. Hammer, nails.

Sources on ACDA/’s founding: Freeman Dyson, Disturbing the Universe, New York: Harper & Row, 1979.

Gregg Herken, Counsels of War, New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985.

Arthur Herzog, The War-Peace Establishment, New York: Harper & Row, 1965

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