Saturday, August 06, 2005
Nobody told the Peace Corps that it was about to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Pentagon:
The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is offering to allow recruits to meet part of their military obligations by serving in the Peace Corps, which has resisted any ties to the Defense Department or U.S. intelligence agencies since its founding in 1961.If you do not immediately apprehend the profound and ugly implications of the new arrangement, our learned colleague Melissa of Shakespeare's Sister will be only too happy to help.
The recruitment program has sparked debate and rising opposition among current and former Peace Corps officials. Some welcome it as a way to expand the cadre of idealistic volunteers created by President John F. Kennedy. But many say it could lead to suspicions abroad that the Peace Corps, which has 7,733 workers in 73 countries, is working together with the U.S. armed forces . . . .
Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez, who was appointed in 2002 by President Bush, said in a recent interview that the Peace Corps was unaware of the provision until after it became law. Vasquez declined to say whether he would have opposed the legislation, had he known about it in time . . . .
"We are already accused on a daily basis of being CIA agents so I don't see how this [link to the U.S. military] could help," a volunteer in Burkina Faso said by e-mail.
"It is hard enough trying to integrate yourself into a completely different culture, convincing people that . . . Americans are not these gun-toting sex maniacs . . . without having a connection to the U.S. military," another volunteer in Africa wrote.