Peace Corps on Obama’s Radar

I came across this article by the LA Times, which looks at this historical relationship between the Peace Corps and Indonesia:

The last time Indonesiaallowed Peace Corps volunteers to work here, they weren’t sent into villages to teach English or build schools. The Americans were assigned to whip athletes into shape for the 1964 Olympics.

The peculiar aid to reluctant hosts didn’t work out: Jakarta ended up boycotting the Tokyo Games, and thugs from the Indonesian Communist Party, which accused the American coaches of being CIA agents, ran them out of the country in 1965, less than three years after they had arrived.

More than four decades later, when Islamic extremism is considered the biggest foreign threat to the United States, the Obama administration hopes to persuade the government of the world’s most populous Muslim country to let the Peace Corps return.

Apparently on SoS Clinton’s visit to Indonesia during her Asia tour, she tried to convince the government to open back up to the idea of having volunteers come to its country.  From a diplomacy standpoint, it seems like the right message to send the world’s largest Muslim country.  Then again, I know first hand that when it comes to development, people have to want it.  I like the idea of expanding Peace Corps to new posts, but this seems like it’s more about softening America’s image than it does with development.

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