voxsouley

Peace Corps being pushed on Indonesia

In Foreign Policy, International Development, Peace Corps, Sustainable Development on February 19, 2009 at 6:06 pm

Just read this article in the LA Times, came across it through a NPCA Twitter post –

Indonesia still touchy about Peace Corps – Los Angeles Times

Apparently Secretary of State Clinton is pushing Indonesia to accept Peace Corps Volunteers, as a way to improve relations. This is the exact opposite way a Peace Corps program should be started. We work at the invitation of host country governments.

Starting a Peace Corps program in Indonesia under these circumstances would undermine the years and years of goodwill towards Peace Corps that has been built up since the 1970’s, when PC was more notoriously used and discredited by the Nixon and ford administrations. If you read Confessions of an Economic Hitman, and if you believe what John Perkins is saying, you understand what I’m talking about. I was approached by a couple of other embittered old-timer RPCV’s when I was a PC recruiter idealistically pushing PC as apolitical. It was a particular concern when I was recruiting at San Francisco State and UC Santa Cruz, and I know my Berkeley and Humboldt State colleagues were battered by those concerns as well.

We’ve got to set Clinton and the Obama administration straight – Peace Corps is apolitical.

I think Peace Corps just needs a big, fat change – they need to be modernized, basically. PC was created for the Cold War, and Clinton is still thinking in that mindset, that hearts and minds are there for us to ‘win’. PC should really stress the collaboration angle, making ourselves available for helping people build their own capacities that they decide they want help improving.

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  1. I had the same impression as you when I read the press accounts, but Peace Corps is saying that Indonesia formally submitted a request for Peace Corps last year and that Peace Corps did an initial assessment last fall. Clinton really should have clarified all this and did Peace Corps a big disservice. She gave the impression that the State Dept calls the shots when it comes to Peace Corps. Anyway, Indonesia’s request has been delayed by PC budget woes, but I at least took comfort in knowing that Indonesia had submitted an official request last year — thought the foreign ministry spokesperson seems clueless about that!

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  2. Thanks to whomever commented – that’s good to know that at least the process is going along technically correct.

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