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Rep. Barbara Lee Introduces Bill to Create Department of Peacebuilding

Does the U.S. need a new Cabinet-level department to focus on peace? Discuss Barbara Lee's idea in the comments section below.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee on Friday introduced a new bill in the House of Representatives that would create a Cabinet-level "Department of Peacebuilding." 

In a press release, Lee said "peacebuilding” encompasses both activities that target the root causes of violence and broad measures used to prevent violent conflict and create sustainable peace. 

Lee represents California's 13th Congressional District, which includes Albany, Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, Alameda and San Leandro.

Here is the complete press release from Lee's office:

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced H.R. 808, the “Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2013” to create a cabinet-level Secretary and Department of Peacebuilding. The term “peacebuilding” refers both to activities that target the root causes of violence as well as the broad measures used to prevent violent conflict and create sustainable peace. 

“This culture of violence that we live in is unacceptable. On our streets and across the globe, the pervasive presence of violence has infected the lives of millions, and it is far past time we address it as a nation. We invest hundreds of billions each year in the Pentagon, in war colleges, military academies, and our national defense universities all to develop war tactics and strategies.  Now we need that kind of investment in peace and nonviolence here at home,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each life cut short by a homicide costs the U.S. economy $1.65 million.  Worldwide, the Institute for Economics and Peace estimates that violence and conflict cost the global economy $9 trillion in 2011.

Congresswoman Lee continued, “The Department of Peacebuilding advances the good work of my friend and former colleague Congressman Kucinich and has the potential to reduce suffering on a national and global scale while saving billions of dollars through violence reduction and increased economic productivity.” 

This proposed department would be charged with developing national strategies and programs for violence reduction both domestically and internationally.  Working across agencies, the Secretary of Peacebuilding would sponsor conflict prevention and dispute resolution initiatives, facilitate peace summits between conflicting parties, encourage community policing, and support efforts by local community and religious groups to reduce gun violence, racial and ethnic violence, and prevent violence against women and LGBT Americans.

Original cosponsors include Representatives Robert Andrews, Yvette Clarke, John Conyers, Jr., Janice Hahn, James McGovern, Chellie Pingree, and Jared Polis.

What do you think of Congresswoman Lee's idea for a Department of Peacekeeping? Share you thoughts in the comments section below.

James Simmons February 16, 2013 at 04:48 PM
And this newly formed Department of Peacebuilding will gobble up all law enforcement not already absorbed by the Department of Homeland Security in order to build and enforce the peace. They will all work for an equal piece of the social pie...and they shall be called "Peace Officers."
Claudia Mar February 16, 2013 at 04:51 PM
I agree with Lisa and Robert. So glad to read your comments!!! It is about time to invest our tax money in building peace and restoration. NO MORE WARS!
Bonnie Hughes February 16, 2013 at 05:45 PM
I think it is a wonderful idea. We are so fortunate to have you representing us in congress. With all the money and energy that is spent on promoting war, can't we give peace a chance. Can you believe the virulent comments above? They sound like Repulsicans.
Winifred Owen February 16, 2013 at 06:10 PM
Well, that sounds like a real peacemaking comment, Bonnie. Repulsicans? Perhaps your definition of peace and goodwill needs a bit of fine-tuning? As far as Barbara Lee's proposal: Where will the money come from in these lean times? Rainbows, unicorns, pie-in-the-sky fantasies - sorry, those may be fine for economically stable times when there are some extra dollars to throw around. That time, however, is not now.
Ross Stapleton-Gray February 16, 2013 at 07:08 PM
I served at the CIA for six years (1988-94), and back then, the budget for defense & intelligence, at the end of the Cold War, was rather large; then-DCI Robert Gates, in the first Clinton term, oversaw a rather modest reduction in intelligence spending, as part of a post-Cold War "peace dividend." By comparison, we're now hemorrhaging money on defense, intelligence, and "homeland security" (which was a horrible coining... "homeland?" sheesh). An order of magnitude more spending than any other country on earth, and, in the aggregate, as much as every other country on earth. We have bases nearly everywhere in the world (a map of all of the US bases within a few hundred miles of Iran, say, is remarkable... no surprise that they feel concerned about their own national security). None of that is sustainable, and certainly doesn't educate us in how to work with limited resources, and with others taking the lead in their own regions. The whole of the non-defense foreign affairs/aid budget is a comparatively small fraction, and could be increased with some of the savings if we cut back defense spending, hard.
J.R. February 16, 2013 at 09:15 PM
Does anyone really believe that we need another government agency or cabinet position to use our tax dollars? We spend more than we take in. I don't understand how they can put time into a bill as ridiculous as this one when they still haven't passed a budget. Everyone needs to wake up. Stop voting for your party and vote out incumbents after two terms.
christopher papazoglow February 16, 2013 at 10:52 PM
The Department could/should be funded by taking that money from the Department of Warkeeping, otherwise known as the Department of "Defense" ( or Department of Whack-a-Mole. Kill a few "terrorists", along with a bunch of civilians, and thereby enrage/encourage MORE "terrorists ). Rather be using that funding to understand the root causes of violence and come up with EFFECTIVE solutions that actually work, than killing and maiming people in other countries in the name of "democracy" ( HA ! ) and calling it "defending our freedom".
Tatter Salad February 16, 2013 at 11:01 PM
"With all the money and energy that is spent on promoting war, can't we give peace a chance. Can you believe the virulent comments above? They sound like Repulsicans." Perhaps; but it's more that the extremely naive OP's ideas are what makes Republicans possible. Her childlike ignorance is scary, and and perhaps just a PR scam to the equally ignorant. Let's make Rodney King the poster child: "Can't we all just get along.' Is there ANYTHING on her 'wish list', or 'goal statement', or 'to do' list that ISN"T ALREADY incorporated, and subsidized by us? Is there ANY politician that thinks they don't ALREADY support all of her goals?
Reginald Alexander February 16, 2013 at 11:05 PM
I hope that Congresswoman Mrs. Lee can partner with Senator Elizabeth Warren to sponsor this proposal. Keep up the fight. I would be happy to give to you my support.
Dover February 16, 2013 at 11:54 PM
Hey, it could work! I mean, who could have seen THIS coming? "In a shocking turn of events, after years of resistance Iran has unilaterally halted its own nuclear program. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke to reporters late yesterday and announced the “total and complete” abandonment of “all efforts” toward creating a nuclear bomb. He cited “really nice U.S. diplomat” as the reason. “We were wholeheartedly committed to developing a nuclear bomb so that we could basically win the Middle East in its entirety for Allah, by destroying all of our enemies, in particular those Satans in Israel, but probably Saudi Arabia too, and anyone else who looked at us crosswise,” said Ahmedinejad. “We also really enjoyed shaking our little stick at the US and watching them bend over. But then this really nice man from the U.S. asked us to stop, so we did! We also gave the drone back. What do we need it for?” http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2012/01/11/iran-halts-nuclear-program-because-nice-diplomat-asked-them-to/
James Simmons February 17, 2013 at 02:46 AM
Wait a minute, Isn't there already a State Department? And isn't it already headed by a peace loving liberal? If I recall correctly, they have a new method for keeping our friendly neighbors friendly...offer a sacrifice then deny. I don't think that cover up cost the tax payer one solid dime. Gee Obama was telling the truth. Oh yeah, before you liberal folks start digging back over 4 years and flinging mud at him for everything under the sun I didn't vote for him either. Dam the torpedoes Barbara! More taxes ahead!
Kei February 17, 2013 at 03:28 AM
No doubt this department would be staffed by unicorns and pink bunnies? I think the term used for this is 'magical thinking.' As someone above said, she is behaving like a moron. I do wonder if she thinks, or if she just 'feels.'
Pwll February 17, 2013 at 03:43 AM
Me, too, Lisa! Interesting where we see the violent language in these posts.
bridget o'shaugnessy February 17, 2013 at 03:47 AM
you took the words right ouf of my mouth. Amen, Fred!!
Lisa Park February 17, 2013 at 04:27 AM
Thank you, Ross, for making these points.
Pwll February 17, 2013 at 04:45 AM
Good comments, Christopher. Thanks!
Jerry Collins February 17, 2013 at 06:41 PM
It's called new ideas, thinking out of the box. Gosh, forget about labeling ideas and people. It's a new idea and why not focus on the positive--reducing violence and death. Oh by the way there is monetary savings to all and instead of a "cost" to the economy a gain or savings. How about just the morally basic equation and benefit to a life lived instead of one being "taken". The "true" moron is the one who stops looking for solutions and has no positive suggestions or alternatives to offer. Rep. Lee should be celebrated for having the courage to promote new ideas. The old ways and ideas aren't working very well, are they?
Tomi February 17, 2013 at 06:48 PM
I don't think a cabinet post is necessary because this is the role of the State Department and the Secretary of State. That said, I think it is not helpful to name call when you disagree with a proposal. We need both idea people and people who can translate ideas into practical solutions. Our government works best as a synthesizer of ideas, and I am weary of people of all persuasions who think being self righteous makes them sound smart.
Pwll February 17, 2013 at 09:35 PM
Excellent comment, Jerry. Thanks!
Tim L February 18, 2013 at 01:44 AM
Great, spend my tax dollars to chase rainbows when we really need to devote our scant resources to finding the WMDs.
Yvette February 18, 2013 at 03:18 PM
Beautifully articulated, Jerry. Thank you.
Fred Eiger February 18, 2013 at 11:19 PM
The Department of Defense is the "peace" department.
Thomas Sneid February 19, 2013 at 12:37 AM
Good frigan luck with this one LMAO. Allot of you nuts vote for this women, you deserve every wasted tax dollar out of your pocket that comes your way.....
Thomas Sneid February 19, 2013 at 12:47 AM
Well how are your "new ideas", hope, change, the welfare state working out for ya? Oh wait, your idealist agenda is largely responsible for the state we are in right now, certainly has not helped a thing. Here is a new idea and novel concept. Start promoting self reliance and stop promoting the victim mentality and the welfare state. You, and your ilk, have your hands dirty in the ruining of a generation of young urban Americans with your failed Utopian ideals, you are right, time for NEW ideas, just not the failed ones of the past you keep clinging onto.
Thomas Sneid February 19, 2013 at 12:49 AM
Very succinct and well said, Kei.
Alameda Native February 20, 2013 at 08:14 PM
Really Claudia? What money? We're broke. Seems Democrats really can't see the forest for the trees. Hey Barbara, how about coming up with AND passing a budget? Then in your spare time you can spend time on these trivial pursuits.
Tatter Salad February 20, 2013 at 10:38 PM
You may be correct. It's time to throw 'economy stimulus money' at the 'Sociology and Psych'-Majors rather than Engineering firms like Boeing, etc. and the former high-school jocks from the South. But I suspect the economy and U.S. technology will move forward better with the latter. No one has ever said there was such a thing as a 'humane' and 'just' war. Just say'n.
Chris84 February 20, 2013 at 10:39 PM
This congressperson is A typical uber-liberal. Lets spend more money, create more beaurocracy and use it all to cloak " gun control. How about creating a department of personal responsibility. What do you think of that?
Thomas Sneid February 21, 2013 at 12:21 AM
Honestly Chris, Love the idea, as long as vague, nonproductive but feel good plans are considered acceptable by the radical Bay Area left, I think it might actually be something that makes a but of sense to create a department to promote personal responsibility, something our society desperately needs. But of course, with the victim mentality that the "Uber Left" so loves to embrace, basically the foundation and basis of their very existence, I wouldn't expect to see such a program anytime soon out of the peoples republic of California. Still, terrific comment nonetheless.
Renate Jakupca February 27, 2013 at 01:12 PM
ARK in Berea: The International Center for Environmental Arts (ICEA) is now accepting requests for the 2013 Children Peace Stone Sculpture donation program. Peace Stones from the Worlds Children Peace Monument (WCPM) will be donated to municipal parks nationwide to assist in promoting the iceality of a sustainable global Culture of Peace and Goodwill for all Living Things!! There is no cost to the city except to find a suitable public location for the Peace Stone Sculpture. According to David Jakupca, the Spiritual Father of the Environmental Arts Movement, The Stones are each handcrafted and are approximately 3 to 4 ft square and weight about 300 lbs are indestructible (vandal proof) and erects in a few hours.....(NOTE: specific Peace Stones will be designated as part of the National Coast-to-Coast Great American Peace Trail) Rep Lee, Governors, mayors, council members, civic leaders, business exec, teachers, parents, kids…. today, if we live up to our responsibilities and recommit to our tradition of civic participation, there is nothing our country can’t achieve. Please contact me directly at the ARK in Berea to expedite delivery of peace-carved-in-stone to your city park. Full Story: http://bereabuzz.blogspot.com/2013/02/building-national-coast-to-coast-great.html

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