While stopped behind a school bus last week I remembered that I have a daughter. This made me wonder what she is doing in Australia with her work visa, living Down Under near those Australian surfing beaches packed with handsome and charming Australian surfer dudes. This immediately made me stop wondering what she is doing but it did remind me of the time she graduated from high school and was looking at colleges to attend. It was at this time we started receiving promotional packets from the military service academies the U.S. government runs to produce the best soldiers and midshipmen in the world. 

I started wondering where all the brochures were from the colleges that produced the best peacemakers in the world. Turns out, there aren’t any — or at least there aren’t any comparable to those that school warriors. It seems a little one-sided if not just plain imprudent — a word that can be used interchangeably with “misguided” or occasionally “stupid.”

We give a lot of lip service to peace but hardly any financial backing. We train military experts, paying a half-million dollars per pupil to graduate from our military academies. By this we hope to have the best minds to run our $13 billion aircraft carriers and other weapons programs. But when it comes to choosing an ambassador or a secretary of state to advise the president about foreign affairs, we leave that job to presidential appointees who may or may not have skipped out on a few too many history classes in deference to a toga party or a fraternity kegger.

One problem is that war is so much more fun and exciting than peace. Peace is boring or we would be overrun with peacemaking video games with titles like “Middle East Negotiator VI” or “Balkans Rebel Ambassador” and “Somali Statesman 007.” Who wouldn’t want to play “World of Lovecraft: Final Treaty 4”?

War is more thrilling than peace the way a game of Russian roulette is more fun than farming. Sometimes it’s more in the interest of our survival if we have a little less fun. With this in mind I got a crafty idea I call the U.S. Academy for Diplomacy and Peace.

If we can have a West Point for soldiers, can’t we put together an academy that has the best faculty and curriculum, top-level research, the best and latest equipment and facilities to train the greatest negotiators, ambassadors and diplomats the world has ever seen?

Requirements for student admission would be at least as strict as for any military academy and schooling would be no less vigorous. All expenses would be paid just as we already pay at the military academies, and graduates would be committed to serve at least five years in the U.S. Foreign Service with the American diplomatic corps, working in embassies and representing our government around the world. We would create a pool of people skilled in language, communication, economics, law and world cultures that could be called on to prevent political crises.

Once we know that a soldier attended West Point or Annapolis we are well on the way to being comfortable that they are qualified. Looking at our candidates before the upcoming election, I only dream of having some degree of confidence in their diplomatic skills. It would be nice to say, “Oh, look, he graduated at the top of his class from the U.S. Academy for Diplomacy and Peace.”

Where would we build such an institution? It could be at one of the military bases that have closed over the last decade. How much would it cost to properly fund such a venture? How about $50 billion over the next 25 years? That should be sufficient. Hey, don’t laugh; that’s about a third less on an annual basis than what we supply to Israel in military aid. The Academy will pay for itself. All it has to do is prevent one war. It will pay for itself many times over.

We’re not producing steel in this country like we used to; those days are over. Even the quality of the military academies has come into question. Let’s produce something the world desperately needs that no one else is creating: real diplomats — people who are trained to bring about compromise and harmony. 

We also need more comedians, but we’ll leave that for another time. It’s just a thought from behind a school bus.