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The Therapy Sessions
Saturday, July 26, 2003

Harden the Peace Corps?

Jay Bryant argues that instead of having the army working in Iraq, that job should belong to the Peace Corps.

I need more information on how this plan would be implemented, but my first impression is that it is a bad idea.

Many former volunteers oppose it because it injects US foreign policy into the Peace Corps. That, however, is what I LIKE about this idea. I think that should be what the Peace Corps is about: fostering freedom and democracy around the world. The Peace Corps is where dumb liberals go to die. They certainly become more practical and more concerned with finding solutions that work.

Here's what I don't like about the idea: Peace Corps volunteers are, by necessity, unarmed and working in far-flung locations. They are very accessible, but they are vulnerable to being taken hostage. This puts the military in the position of having to guard them anyway.

How would soldiers feel about acting as full-time bodyguards for PCV's?

Most Peace Corps volunteers work in health and education. Iraq doesn't need either of those things.

When I was in Sierra Leone (PCV'91-92), I was a teacher in a school outside a medium sized town. I could go weeks without seeing another American. I never felt like I was in serious danger. But a small band of bad guys could have easily kidnapped me (all they needed to do knock on my door). Every African for five miles knew where I lived.

Peace Corps in Iraq would mean several Danny Pearls a week, at least for the time being.

Maybe this idea will fly in a few years, when the situation settles down.

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