Editorial: Dayton proposal is futile at best

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 4, 2005

It may only be a statement, but introducing legislation for a federal Department of Peace and Nonviolence makes no sense and can only further divide a country split over how best to defend its borders.

The man who introduced the bill, Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., is the only senator to back the idea, which at best is an extremely long shot.

The measure is an offshoot of last year’s presidential campaign of Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who was clearly seen as the most liberal Democrat in the fold of candidates … .

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Dayton’s bill calls for establishing a Cabinet-level secretary to promote causes like international conflict resolution and reduction in domestic abuse and violence against animals. The new U.S. Peace Department would seek $8 billion in annual funding, which supporters say is only 2 percent of the Pentagon budget.

The issues are important &045; world peace and nonviolence (with people and animals) is laudable. But establishing a Cabinet-level post seems counterproductive to issues of national importance. …

The idea of a department dedicated to international conflict resolution seems better in the court of the United Nations, which needs serious reform to do just that &045; mitigate concerns between nations to avoid armed conflict. And we don’t need a federal bureaucracy to tell us that fish have pain, as animal rights activists will push.

A U.S. Department of Peace and Nonviolence sounds wonderful, but in reality it is utopian and naive. All but one Minnesota U.S. House Democrat has endorsed Dayton’s idea &045; thankfully, U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, DFL-7th District, is the lone holdout who realizes the futility of such a bizarre proposal.

At a time when terrorist organizations are intent on destroying in what America believes, and in killing Americans, simply because we exist and they don’t want us to exist, a massive federal effort to preach peace and nonviolence will go on deaf ears while Americans continue to die and democracies fall.

Sen. Dayton was perhaps easily approached as he has nothing to lose &045; he is not seeking re-election in 2006. But he is an advocate of issues important to Minnesotans, such as ensuring they have access to heating fuel this winter and promoting Minnesota agriculture through ethanol-derived gasoline. We hope that his efforts to cater to the extreme left don’t reduce his effectiveness in his remaining months of service.

&045; The Bemidji Pioneer