In the midst of US military involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya, it is of the utmost importance to pursue peace whenever possible. But the current legislative threat to the US Institute of Peace (USIP) has the potential to make this even more difficult. USIP has had great levels of success in ending conflicts without violence since its founding in 1984. But in the past six months, there have been two attempts to close USIP. The first was voted down by the Senate in March, but a second attempt is currently underway as a part of the annual defense spending bill.
Opponents of the Institute have claimed that it is not worth the cost needed to keep it running. The current budget of USIP is $42.7 million a year, a drop in the bucket next to the billions spent in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Institute is not just a bargain, it is a worthwhile investment. In places like Mahmoudiya, Iraq, it has created peace without the cost required by military action.
Not only is USIP worthwhile financially, it is also holds a great spiritual value. In Psalm 34:14 we are told to “turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” The pursuit of peace is the exact mission of USIP, and they do it very well. Ending the work of the US Institute of Peace would not only be politically and financially unsound, it would be a rejection of important principles that we, as Catholics, have a responsibility to respect and honor.