Why Save USIP?

On February 17, the new House of Representatives voted to cut funding for the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) to zero. This vote comes at time when our country’s leaders are grappling with our ever-growing national debt and deficit. While this problem is very real, and requires finding creative solutions for spurring economic growth, this particular move will have disastrous effects for our diplomatic community and our country’s ability to promote peace and stability abroad.

International conflict management takes much more than hard power. Cutting the USIP budget would take away one of our country’s most effective tools for nonviolent conflict management and resolution. For over 25 years, USIP has supported the military, the State Department, multiple presidential administrations, and the international community in helping to prevent deadly violence and manage conflict overseas. Operating both at home in Washington, DC and on the ground in conflict zones, USIP aids the US government in facilitating dialogue among parties, and building conflict management skills and capacity. The institute supports the work of policymakers by providing cutting edge research, conflict analysis, and policy options. When the war and Iraq was spinning out of control, Congress turned to USIP for recommendations and to manage the Iraq Study Group. With offices in Baghdad and Kabul, the Institute trains American soldiers, civilians, and local peacebuilders in conflict resolution skills in an effort to promote nonviolent conflict resolution and sustain long lasting peace. These examples are but a few, as the organization has been involved in this kind of work for years, and has even earned a new home on the national mall, which will serve as a beacon of light for United States commitment to international peace.

As we begin to look at our national budget, it is important to truly understand the numbers. The US spends as much on defense as the rest of the world combined, but our diplomatic budget is barely 1% of the federal budget. USIP will cost the American public less than 18 cents per person for the entire year, and has cost the American public $2.58 per person over the course of 26 years.

Cutting the USIP budget will have no long-term impact on our economic situation, but will send a message to the rest of the world that peace is not our priority.

The bill to cut USIP’s budget has already passed the House of Representatives, but needs to pass the Senate for it to take effect. A vote will come to the floor within the next couple of weeks. With so many people around the country voicing their opinions on the state of the economy and the direction of our country, those of us who care about the cause of peace need to make our voices heard, and ensure the prosperity of those institutions that represent our core values.

Today, I urge you to take action to keep this vital organization alive.

What you can do:

Call 1-202-224-3121 and ask for the office of your senator or representative. Urge them to sustain funding of USIP at $42.7 million for 2011. Call your representative in the House, and ask how he or she voted on funding for USIP. If they voted against the cut, please thank them. If they voted for the cut, please ask them why. If you're not sure who to call, you can look up your Rep online.

As we continue to engage in two major wars and numerous additional conflicts abroad, our country needs the US Institute of Peace.

Don't just take our word for it.  Read some of what's been written in the media: