Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today at the U.S. Institute of Peace headquarters groundbreaking ceremony:
“The world has never seen a fighting force like that of the United States of America. With the finest, best-trained forces – backed by a half-trillion dollar annual investment in defense – we have the tools, technology and manpower to face the constant challenges of our uncertain and ever-changing world.
“Winning the peace – that is a much more difficult task. It cannot be done in one meeting, on one trip, or at one conference, or by the military alone. It takes the same level of energy, analysis, planning, resources and resolve to plant the seeds of peace as it does to sharpen the spears of war.
“Some call this America’s ‘smart power:’ the conviction that forging peace is as important to America’s national security as winning wars. Though the underpinnings of ‘smart power’ have been with our country from its very beginning, it was 30 years ago that several visionary Members of Congress began to articulate ways to build the tools we need. Among them were Senators from both parties: Jennings Randolph (R), Mark Hatfield (R), Vance Hartke (D), Sam Nunn (D), and especially Spark Matsunaga (D).
“Senator Matsunaga from Hawaii knew more than a little about war. As a young man, he served in World War II with the legendary 442nd Regimental Combat Team – the same regiment as one of Hawaii’s current Senators, my good friend Dan Inouye. The 442nd fought in Italy, France and Germany, and when the war was done, they were the most highly decorated unit in the entire United States Army.
“Like so many of his brothers and sisters in arms, Spark Matsunaga’s time at war enhanced his value for peace. He was moved to say that “Peace, like war, is an art which must be studied and learned before it can be waged well.”
“In the Senate, he put his words to action, and in 1984, the vision for the U.S. Institute of Peace became a reality. In the years that followed, Members of Congress with the same commitment to ‘smart power’ painstakingly nurtured and grew the Institute. A few of the many are here today. They include Senators Tom Harkin, Ted Stevens, Dan Inouye, and though he could not be here, John Warner.
“But for these fine Senator-statesmen, Democrats and Republicans, this day would not have been possible. Because of their work – because of the work of so many of you here today – the commitment and investment were secured to build this beautiful new building.
“But the ground we ceremonially break today will represent more than concrete, steel and glass. Rising in the shadows of memorials to America’s gravest wars, this building will live forever as a symbol of the hope of our nation to build monuments to peace.
“The U.S. Institute of Peace has served America exceptionally in recent years. You supported the Iraq Study Group’s work to set a bipartisan path forward in Iraq. You have fostered dialogues between Iranian and American scholars, advancing communications at a time when formal diplomatic relations do not exist. You have supported research, mediation and the strengthening of civil society in Korea, Colombia, Kashmir, Nigeria, Pakistan and other global conflict zones, promoting peace and enhancing the quality of life of countless citizens of the world. And just as important, you educate and nurture the leaders of tomorrow to face challenges as yet unknown.
“But the work of the Institute has only just begun. With the capabilities of our Armed Forces fully committed overseas, new threats emerging and our influence tested, our commitment to winning the peace – in words and action – has never been more important.
“It is our responsibility – all of ours – to ensure that, just as today, countless other monuments to peace will rise across America – and across the world – for years and generations to come.”