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Robert Winner

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Is the Peace Corps still a worthy project

In 1952 Senator Brien McMahon (D-Connecticut) proposed an "army" of young Americans to act as "missionaries of democracy". On March 1, 1961, Kennedy signed Executive Order 10924 that officially started the Peace Corps. He was concerned with the growing tide of revolutionary sentiment in the Third World.

Based on these historical facts has the Peace Corps suceeded? It carries a $373.44 million dollar budget mostly dedicated to administration of the program. Has it reversed or impacted the revolutionary sentiment in the third world countries? Have the "missionaries of democracy" converted countries political beliefs?

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  • May 31 2013: More than ever. When it first started however it was viewed with suspicion as infiltratrion by capitalist or communist groups. Now that that is mostly over, the biggest hurdle is local corruption. I believe that can be slowly overcome by use of emerging media but it has to be part of a delicate new model so that it doesn't come on like a house afire and get people killed. Part of that may be accommodating the corrupt with a role that brings them economy because they have to eat too and if you use commercial and sensationalist media, it will be perceived as foreign interference with the purpose to expose corruption and just jail or eradicate it. There are a lot of intricate realities out there and trouble often follows the belief that one is an "agent" of imperialism instead of something else they trust. I have a lot of study on this and ideas.
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    May 27 2013: YES! Read how Peace Corps volunteers are instruments for literacy an peace using Souns for Literacy thanks to Rotary Club. http://sounstalk.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/the-power-of-working-alongside/
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    May 27 2013: I don't know whether the idea articulated in 1952 for an army to act as missionaries of democracy was carried forward as the mission of the Peace Corps signed into law by JFK nine years later. Have you checked this? I have always considered the Peace Corps as being focused on economic development, as LaMar described.

    I have known quite a number of Peace Corps volunteers in Africa. Some have taught English and literacy skills in rural areas. One worked on developing cooperative fisheries and providing technical assistance related to water and agriculture.

    So I am not sure that one can evaluate the program's value by looking at revolutionary sentiment.
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      May 27 2013: The quotes I posted came from the wikapedia web site on the Peace Corps. The quote from McMahon in the 1950 1959 section and the JFK quote from the 1960 - 1969 section. As times change so do objectives and goals ... as in everything buzz words are employed to ensure funding. As an example at one time the Attorney General was simply the city attorney for the District of Columbia and legal advisor to the administration. In another conversation I tell of the start of the DOE ... the mission statement has certainly changed for all of these agencies.

      I have heard of good things and also of how things went well while the PC Rep was there and reverted back upon their departure. These things I cannot argue.

      My intention was to ask if the original objectives are being met .... todays objectives are certainly different and yet contains the missionary element ... are the two really so different.

      As always thanks for the reply. Bob.