LET US PAUSE for a brief intermission L in "War Games," the hit show of the Reagan administration, for a few words about some alternative programming. The interruption comes at a bad time -- the contestants, after all, are talking about setting off nuclear missiles against each other in Europe -- but a lot of our European viewers don't like that part of the show and want it canceled. What follows is not a commercial for a show that will replace "War Games" -- at least not right away -- but it is for something new.
This is something that could work.
Last week, a commission funded by Congress and appointed by President Carter concluded a year of hearings around the country with a recommendation that Congress establish a United States Academy of Peace. The academy would specialize in training people, including foreigners, in conflict resolution techniques. It would be a center for research and information and award graduate degrees as well as offer short courses. It would not have any direct policy or operational role in government. The emphasis would be on international conflicts, including disputes between American businesses and foreign countries, but it would also focus on intranational conflicts and train such people as police officers and social workers.
Rep. Daniel Glickman, (D-Kan.), a commission member who intends to sponsor legislation setting up the academy, says that "it recognizes the fact that the answer to growing world tensions does not lie in military build-up alone. It recognizes that no assurance exists that the strategy of 'might-makes-right' will bring lasting peace."
The National Peace Academy Campaign was begun in 1976 and its executive director for the past three years has been Milton Mapes, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, who has a law degree from Yale and master's degrees in Soviet studies and political science. Mapes, who has worked on the Hill and in the State Department, served with the 7th Fleet during World War II and the Korean War. "I've watched for 40 years our scientists applying their accumulated wisdom to better means of destruction of our civilization and doing almost nothing to prevent it from happening," he says. "Then, all of a sudden, with the development of conflict resolution, the behavioral sciences are beginning to put together a brand new social science on a very practical level and it works. And what's better, we can train people at it."
As practical examples he offers the Hanafi siege in Washington. "They could have sent the S.W.A.T. teams in there and gotten the hostages out and lost 25 people in the process. Instead, they sent in experts in conflict resolution and all of them were saved. Another good case in the international field is the Camp David accord. That was a peace treaty that couldn't be written because the Arabs and Israelis have been fighting each other for 3,000 years, but it happened because very specific techniques were used, techniques that came out of 75 years of labor-management relations in this country. They set up a single negotiating text."
Instead of having each side start out by stating positions and then forcing concessions, the United States, as a third party, spent a few days listening to both sides and then offered a working text that both sides criticized until the United States produced, on the 23rd draft, a text that was "yesable to both of them," says Mapes.
"What we are talking about are techniques that would lower the level of conflict all across society and therefore many international conflicts would be much less likely because the level of conflict in individual nations would be lower," says Mapes.
The Peace Academy Campaign is headquartered in Washington and Mapes says its ranks have swelled from 3,000 last January to 12,000 now as a result of a direct mail campaign put together by a leading copywriter who donated his services. India Edwards, vice-chairman of the Democratic National Committee under President Truman, called from California to help. "She said, 'I'm 86 years old, but I've got another round left in me yet and I want to put it in for the peace academy,' " says Mapes.
The United States has four military academies and five war colleges. A peace academy would be a working symbol of America's commitment to peace and to its belief that it can be secured through other methods than violence and the constant threat of mutual destruction. Such an academy would focus attention on the science of conflict management and on the existence of experts who can assist others in resolving disputes. We train foreign airplane pilots -- could we not train foreign conflict managers?
The commission has recommended that the Peace Academy be set up with $66 million over the next four years, with $15 million for buildings and grounds. That is roughly one quarter of the cost of one B1 bomber, a small price to pay if you believe that the long-term payoff could be the survival of our civilization.
Now, back to "War Games."