I visited the State Department today to attend a seminar on a foreign policy matter (and was happy to meet Dennis Ross and at least three present and retired ambassadors and other US government analysts), but, not having visited the Department for at least nine months, was struck by the progress being made across the street on 23rd Street at the construction site for the new $100 million dollar building for the United States Institute of Peace. I love the work that USIP has been doing. It's mission:
"The United States Instute of Peace is an independent, nonpartisan, national institution established and funded by Congress. Its goals are to help:
- Prevent and resolve violent international conflicts
- Promote post-conflict stability and development
- Increase conflict management capacity, tools, and intellectual capital
The Institute does this by empowering others with knowledge, skills, and resources, as well as by directly engaging in peacebuilding efforts around the globe."
My only problem with the Institute is that its name bothers me. Why Institute "of Peace," rather than "for Peace?" It seems like such a trivial matter, but there is a very big difference. Of is a preposition that has about twenty meanings, but in this case it means simply "in reference (or pertaining) to." Use of this preposition makes it sound like the Institute is somewhat neutral about peace. It merely studies it. But its mission clearly goes much further than that. So why not change its name to the US Institute for Peace? I know the name is already rooted in legislation, but given the Obama administration's clear preference for diplomacy over military means, for peace over war, why not be very clear about the purpose of the organization which will soon have a gleaming new white building of considerable beauty and inspiration right next to the State Department. I recommend that this name change be made when the new building is inaugurated to make sure that its new name is used on the building and to call attention to the new emphasis on diplomacy and peacemaking.