Close Window

PEACE TALKS: A Department of Peace?(KUNM Airdate 4/25/03)

"I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it." - Dwight Eisenhower

On July 11, 2001, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced legislation to create a cabinet level agency dedicated to peacemaking and the study of peace. Kucinich said a Department of Peace would focus on nonmilitary, peaceful conflict resolution and would promote justice to expand human rights. It would also create a Peace Academy, similar to the five military service academies, with graduates dispatched to troubled areas around the globe to promote nonviolent conflict resolution. He reintroduced the legislation, April 8, 2003.

There's a national movement to support a federal, cabinet-level Department of Peace and there are similar state initiatives to establish Departments of Peace, including one in New Mexico. On February 11, 2003 - Senate Memorial 22 supporting a New Mexico Department of Peace passed the state Senate by a vote of 31-4.

On this edition of Peace Talks, we find out what a Department of Peace would do- who supports it, who opposes it, and what the chances are of it becoming a reality on either the federal or state level. Our guests: Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio); Chris Griscom, founder of The Light Institute and The Nizhoni School For Global Consciousness, both of which are located in Galisteo, New Mexico; and NM State Senator Cisco McSorley. We also get comments on the idea of a federal Department of Peace from NM Representatives Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce.

Click here to hear the program in Real Audio.

CD copies of PEACE TALKS programs are available. This is EPISODE #003. Each CD also includes over 15 minutes of bonus questions and answers from the recording session. For more information, email: or send a check made payable to CEDAR CREEK STUDIOS in the amount of $14.50 ($15.33 for NM residents includes local tax). The price includes postage and handling. Mail your check to Cedar Creek Studios, PO BOX 35442, Albuquerque, NM 87176. Expect delivery in 2 to 3 weeks. All proceeds go to production costs for this and future shows.


Eric KolvigDennis Kucinich, Democratic Congressman from Ohio and Candidate for President of the United States: The idea of a Department of Peace is to demonstrate the commitment of the government to a broad-based approach where we would make the work of peace a national calling and to have it brought into every area of human life. And the way that you do that is to create a department that shows the significance and importance of it. I mean right now the United States spends over $400 Billion a year for a department that is involved with armaments, involved with aggression, which is called on to protect our country, but the meaning of it has been transformed of late. We CAN change the awareness of the need for peace...make peace an overarching concern in our society by creating a department which would inform programs at every level of society.

I think War in Iraq makes it more likely that there's a future for a Department of Peace because people see that our nation, through its leadership, has the capacity to unleash aggressive war. And I think it's alarming many people when they find that a nation has a lack of anchor points to insure that the tendencies toward war are tamed at the bureaucratic and administrative levels of a government. A Department of Peace would give a president options. A Secretary of Peace would be in on the cabinet meetings talking about the urgency of resolving matters in a nonviolent way and coming up with programs that do just that. So war's not inevitable. Peace can be inevitable if we work towards it, it's just that right now we're not working toward peace. Our government is working toward war.

Eric KolvigHeather Wilson, Republican Representative from New Mexico: No (I don't think a Department of Peace is necessary). We have a Secretary of State, Eric Kolvigwe have a Secretary of Defense, we have the US Agency for International Development. I think we probably have it covered. But Dennis (Kucinich) is running for President. I guess he has to come up with something.

Steve Pearce, Republican Representative from New Mexico: I would suspect that (a Department of Peace) is not going to get a lot of excitement at least on the Republican side. I think that Secretary (of State) Powell has done a very good job of bringing the negotiations (on Iraq) to the point that I was comfortable that we had every initiative that would arrive at a peaceful solution here. So I would be skeptical of a Department of Peace that gives the impression that we're sitting over here as military rogues, trying to export capitalism. Those things just aren't factual. They're not true.

Eric KolvigChris Griscom, founder of The Light Institute and The Nizhoni School For Global Consciousness: Iím not saying that we can't have laws and heads of state and structures like that - we can. But, there cannot be peace unless we learn what it is to be human at a higher octave. But you know what? People are spiritual in their hearts and it's not about religions. It's about life and death and connection and communication. And that's the crux of our problem right now. We need to come back the mystery of life and our willingness to say, we want a better life. What's going to give us a better life? The capacity to be safe. (Suzanne Kryder: But what would you say to folks who say we're safe by using a defense system that costs $400 billion a year? People who say it's natural to fight?) It's natural to fight but it is against cosmic law to kill. Isn't that something that we agree on? And I would get a silly smirk on my face I'm afraid, when they tell me that there's a technology that can keep us safe. And I know you can't do it. You can't do it. You can spend all the money you want but you can't do it. We have got to switch our consciousness to a consciousness of inclusion. We have to take care of the world's problems. We can't have a continuing separation between the rich and the poor. The technology has to be a technology that includes a human consciousness.

Eric KolvigCisco McSorley, NM State Senator from Albuquerque, on his introduction of a Senate Memorial supporting a NM Department of Peace: I felt that there were many important issues that weren't being addressed at the national level that we could do better at the grass roots level as it relate to working towards world peace. For example, the state of New Mexico has already experimented with offices in Mexico City, Guadalajara, Chihuahua dealing with economic issues, trying to promote trade. At the same time, I think we should also deal with the question of are the people that we're doing business with allowing free and open unions, are they allowing for the kinds of hiring practices that are nondiscriminatory, are we paying living wages, are the companies that we are dealing with dealing in good faith with the government of the country in which they are situated, so that the state of New Mexico isn't doing business with sweatshops and unsavory business practices.

Resources: To learn more about the New Mexico Department of Peace initiative, contact 505/995-1959. The New Mexico DOP group meets every Friday at 4:30 PM in Santa Fe.

To learn more about the national initiative, visit the website,


Suzanne KryderPeace Talks is a series of public radio programs that investigates how people can make peace and pursue nonviolent solutions to conflict - within themselves, their families and communities, and the world. In addition to the KUNM half-hour series, a national series is in development. Each episode of Peace Talks national series would be recorded before a live audience in a town hall format at venues across the United States and will feature a renown leader in peace studies or negotiation as well as a peacemaker chosen from the host community.

In these tumultuous times on the planet, the Peace Talks series intends to offer listeners around the globe a chance to learn useful skills to address the conflict in their own lives. Peace Talks will bring them in contact with some of the leading proponents of nonviolent conflict resolution - individuals who have made the pursuit of peace their life's work.

The proposed format for each show will include

• the peace expert making a short prepared statement,
• an interview by show host Suzanne Kryder, Ph.D.,
• a question and answer session with the audience,
• a prerecorded report, prepared by a top producer, profiling a peacemaking effort in the host community,
• a brief interview with a person involved with that local effort,
• more questions from the audience, for both guests, to round out the hour.

Peace Talks promises to be at once realistic and uplifting - and ultimately - a source of hope in troubled times.

Peace Talks is produced by Paul Ingles, a 28-year veteran radio producer and Suzanne Kryder, Ph.D., a leadership coach and longtime group facilitator.

Peace Talks is currently in the development and fundraising stage. To learn how you can help, send an e-mail to or call 505-771-8295.