Author - John Coyne

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Establishing The Peace Corps: LBJ Saves The Agency, Post 16
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Good Books Written by Good PCVs
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Establishing The Peace Corps: Anybody Want Some PCVs?, Post 15
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So Damn Much Money
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Are PCVs Dead Aid?
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Establishing the Peace Corps: Launching The Idea, Post 13
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Establishing The Peace Corps: Making It International, Post 14
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RPCV Conlon's First Novel Nominated For Literary Award
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Establishing The Peace Corps:Yoo-hoo, yoo-hoo, Post 12
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Establishing The Peace Corps: What Were Those Guys Smoking In The Mayflower Hotel? Post 11

Establishing The Peace Corps: LBJ Saves The Agency, Post 16

The signs that the special role for the Peace Corps in foreign aid was in trouble were all over Washington. Wofford ran into Ralph Dungan in the White House mess (Wofford was then a Special Assistant to the President on Civil Rights) and Dungan told him the Peace Corps would be a subdivision of the new AID. “Not if Sarge has anything to say about it,” Wofford tossed off, half joking, but also firmly believing Shriver walked on water. The truth was that all these “new guys” Shriver brought in to work for the Peace Corps believed Sarge could get anything he wanted from the White House. But Shriver was scheduled to leave D.C. and the U.S. Who would carry the fight that was developing in D.C.? Before leaving for his ’round the world trip to secure placements for PCVs, Shriver lobbied Sorensen, Dungan, and Labouisse, trying to persuade them . . .

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Good Books Written by Good PCVs

If the Peace Corps did anything, it turned us into readers and we are better for it. But being a reader doesn’t make us writers. That’s the rub. Having a great (or not so great) Peace Corps experience doesn’t make us writers either, though it might help when it comes to telling stories late at night in some bar. Being an English major doesn’t make one a writer, and it can even hurt a PCV writer, having read (and then trying to write like) one of those great writers from lit classes. Then there is the problem of too many books being published. In 2008, there were 45,000 novels published, up 17% from 2007. Altogether, there were 311,000 new titles and editions published in 2007. Add that number to all those POD books (print-on-demand) books that anyone can get published for a few hundred dollars and who has dreams of being an . . .

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Establishing The Peace Corps: Anybody Want Some PCVs?, Post 15

Warren Wiggins would tell me in an interview I did with him in January 1997 (published in RPCV Writers & Readers) that the greatest weakness of the original idea of the Peace Corps was that it didn’t have a constituency beyond “the youth of America.” The Peace Corps, Warren said, “was not an outgrowth of development experience. It didn’t have a constituency in the Congress, the press, or other leadership institutions in the U.S. nor did it have a constituency abroad.”      This proved to be an immediate and immense problem. Kennedy had created a Peace Corps and no one wanted it! There were 25,000 potential PCVs waiting to go do something for America, but no Third World country asked for them.      Getting requests for PCVs was a major problem. “Shriver almost terminated me in those early months,” Warren recalled in his interview. “He would never admit that, and . . .

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So Damn Much Money

Over the weekend I read a great review of So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government by Robert G. Kaiser [Knopf 2009]. (Kaiser is The Washington Post associate editor and senior correspondent.) The review was written by Michael Tomasky, the editor-at-large for The Guardian, and appears in the April 9, 2009 issue of The New York Review of Books. You should take a look at it for no other reason than to see why it is so important that Obama is able to clean out the lobbyists on K Street in Washington, D.C. Michael Tomasky writes in his review: “A central aspect of Obama’s entire approach to governance has focused on the reducing the power and influence of these lobbies.” What is key is what Obama said at the end of February in a radio-video address about his plans for his new administration: . . .

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Are PCVs Dead Aid?

You have mostlikely heard about, or read about, Dambisa Moyo and her new book: Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa that was published this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Dambisa Moyo was born and raised in Zambia. She completed a PhD in Economics at Oxford University and holds a Masters from Harvard University. She worked at the World Bank in D.C., then at Goldman Sachs for 8 years in the debt capital markets, hedge fund coverage and in global macroeconomics teams. Her new book says that foreign aid is preventing Africa from becoming self-reliant. She proposes that within the decade, all foreign aid to Africa be cut off. To make her point about ‘dead aid’ she has gone after Bono and other celebrities who flock to Africa to get babies and give aid. She has earned herself the title, Anti-Bono. Her . . .

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Establishing the Peace Corps: Launching The Idea, Post 13

The Mayflower Hotel Gang outlined “seven steps” to form the Peace Corps in a February 22, 1961 memorandum to Kennedy. This memo is interesting for several reasons. The first point Shriver made was that the Peace Corps should be established by an Executive Order within the Mutual Security Program. William Josephson, then the only lawyer in the ‘new’ Peace Corps was the principal author of the President’s Executive Order. [This is not entirely true for Shriver was a lawyers, as was Wofford, among others, but Josephson had come in with Wiggins with their Towering Task Memo, and was a government employee, as was Warren Wiggins who was made Director ad interim. And, therefore, the FIRST DIRECTOR of the agency.] Shriver was appointed by Kennedy on March 4, but subject to Senate confirmation. It was May 21 before Shriver made his appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his appointment was confirmed. . . .

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Establishing The Peace Corps: Making It International, Post 14

What Shriver also said in his original memo to Kennedy was that other countries should establish programs like the Peace Corps. He wanted Kennedy to send a letter to all heads of state at the United Nation “to avoid as best we can the possibility of misunderstanding in the rest of the world about the Peace Corps’ function and purpose and irritation with an appearance of arrogance in assuming that young Americans automatically can teach everybody…” Shriver suggested that Kennedy “invite other countries to form their own Peace Corps units and propose that this become a truly international project through UN coordination.”      Other nations did create programs like the Peace Corps. In fact, Great Britain had their version of a ‘peace corps’ in operation before the U.S. and soon France, Germany, etc., and Japan, were sending volunteers into the Third World.      Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman’s All You Need Is . . .

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RPCV Conlon's First Novel Nominated For Literary Award

Christopher Conlon (Botswana 1988-90) novel Midnight on Mourn Street published by Earthling Publications in May 2008 has been nominated for The Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association of America. It was nominated in the  category of Superior Achievement in a First Novel. The award will be presented in June, in Burbank, California. Paul Shovlin (Moldova 1996-98) in his PeaceCorpsWriters review compared Conlon to Poe, saying, “[its], an apt comparison, especially in terms of atmosphere, which Conlon is adept at establishing. The feeling of gloom and dark brooding that pervades the novel is one of its strongest points.”

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Establishing The Peace Corps:Yoo-hoo, yoo-hoo, Post 12

At the time of Shriver’s February 22, 1961 memorandum to President Kennedy–stating that the Peace Corps should be established as a semi-autonomous agency–there was a lot of professional resistance to the whole idea of sending young Americans overseas to do good. Career diplomat like Elliot O. Briggs described the Peace Corps’ team cry as “Yoo-hoo, yoo-hoo. Let’s go out and wreak some good on the natives,” as Wofford reports in his book, Of Kennedys & Kings.      Throughout the State Department diplomats were indifferent to hostile to the whole idea of a Peace Corps. But not Dean Rusk, Kennedy’s new Secretary of State.  Rusk told Shriver that he thought the Peace Corps idea was “first-class.” (Rusk’s sister, during my time as an APCD in Ethiopia, would also work as an APCD in the Empire.)      Henry Labouisse, who was appointed in 1961 as head of International Cooperation Administration (ICA), Eisenhower’s foreign aid agency, had . . .

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Establishing The Peace Corps: What Were Those Guys Smoking In The Mayflower Hotel? Post 11

In Shriver’s memo to Kennedy, Sarge had written, “We have submitted to your Special Counsel legal memoranda showing how the Peace Corps can be created as a program agency in the State Department within the existing Mutual Security framework….Congress can consider the program fully when it deals with the requests for specific legislation and funds for FY 1962.”      Shriver and the others who had drafted this memo and come up with the “idea of a Peace Corps” saw the new agency as being within the State Department so that it “can work closely with State and ICA, drawing on their personnel, services and facilities, particularly pending reorganization of the whole foreign aid program. But the Peace Corps should be a semi-autonomous entity with its own public face. This new wine should not be poured into the old ICA bottle.”      While the Band of Boys in the Mayflower Hotel . . .

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