Thursday, May 15, 2008


A Canard of Camelot

One of the biggest Canards of Camelot is the assertion that the Peace Corps in its brief history has had a massive impact on the progress of Man. According to Robert L. Strauss - who served as a Peace Corps country director, recruiter, consultant, and volunteer - the Peace Corps has failed to live up to expectations more than it's exceeded them. To wit:

"Today, the Peace Corps remains a Peter Pan organization, afraid to grow up, yet also afraid to question the thinking of its founding fathers. The rush to fulfill John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign pledge was such that the Peace Corps never learned to crawl, let alone walk, before it set off at a sprinter’s pace. The result is a schizophrenic entity, unsure if it is a development organization, a cheerleader for international goodwill, or a government-sponsored cross-cultural exchange program. In any case, the Peace Corps tries to do too many things in too many places with too few people to really get much of anything done at all. ...

"Because the Peace Corps has tried to be all things to all comers, that grand vision has never been realized or even approached. To become effective and relevant, the Peace Corps must now give up on the myth that its creation was the result of an immaculate conception that can never be questioned or altered. It must go out and recruit the best of the best. It must avoid goodwill-generating window dressing and concentrate its resources in a limited number of countries that are truly interested in the development of their people. And it must give up on the risible excuse that in the absence of quantifiable results, good intentions are enough. Only then will it be able to achieve its original objective of significantly altering the lives of millions for the better."

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