General Zinni’s thoughts on mediators

Last week, the New York Times ran an op-ed piece by retired Marine general Anthony Zinni titled “Peace-Building That Pays Off.” I think that we can agree that a Marine general is not someone afraid of conflict or of the use of force. So, his perspective on the great work of the United States Institute of Peace was a particularly compelling one.

In his article, Gen. Zinni criticized the House of Representatives for voting to eliminate funding for the Institute, which he described as “the Marine Corps or special forces for foreign affairs and peace-building.” He credited the Institute’s staff not only for their bravery and commitment, but also for their accomplishments. Their mediators have had tremendous success in Iraq conducting mediations between Shias and Sunnis, and in Afghanistan, mediating “issues from refugees to property and water disputes.”  The Institute’s budget is one-hundredth of one percent of the Pentagon’s budget, according to the general.

Let’s hope that Congress listens to Gen. Zinni and others, and decides that the U.S. can’t afford to eliminate an effective peace-making agency that saves money and lives.

Posted in Basics of Mediation and Conflict, Conflict Resolution in the News, Sunday, March 13th, 2011

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