Peace conference in New Mexico is waste

By Ned Cantwell: State columnist

Mark your calendar for September. New Mexico will stage her first World Peace Conference. Ever. And who better to host the event than Santa Fe, the epicenter of intellectual snobbery?

Exciting. I can see it now. The Dixie Chicks will set the stage with the conference theme song, “Not Ready to Make Nice.” Therein, they will warble their George Bush taunt, “How in the world can the words that I said send somebody so over the edge … I made my bed and I sleep like a baby.”

OK, it doesn’t rank up there with the classic anti-war ballads like “Where have all the flowers gone?’ but these girls are no Peter, Paul and Mary, either.

Cindy Sheehan will host, giving her further opportunity to embarrass herself. Howard Dean can be counted on to say something stupid.
Michael Moore will stand there looking goofy to the wild applause of prancing, marching peace activists, painted blue, but not red, white and blue. They will be bare-chested, many of them female, the slogan “No More War” scrawled on their upper torsos.

But, wait. That’s not the case at all. This is an entirely different kind of peace movement. We’re not talking here about activists crowding the plaza. No, think instead of guys in suits and ties, maybe some scarves and pipes. We’re talking about people who think grass is something you mow.

Were it necessary for New Mexico to stage a peace conference — a debatable proposition — you would think the government would step aside and let the Santa Fe private sector take care of that business. I mean, those folks know how to do peace.

Instead, New Mexico leaders allocated $420,000 of your taxpayer money to pamper speakers at some posh hotel. All they needed to do was spend $834 on “Bush Sucks” T-shirts and spend the rest of the money on something we need. Fixing a road would be nice.

The state justifies the nearly half-million dollar expenditure with the idea this conference, and ones to follow in subsequent years, will promote “peace tourism.” Isn’t that a crock? By all that is holy, what is “peace tourism”?

When it is all over we will have no more peace, we will have no more tourism, but our wallets will be $420,000 lighter.

Before it can be all over, it has to get started, and with just 10 weeks left before the conference, getting started was just getting started. Last week the state had yet to select a planner for the conference, although it did shell out $27,000 to Frank O’Mahony for preliminary work. O’Mahony is a former state official. O’Boy.

The anticipated peace conference has already sparked a war of sorts.
Real peace activists are getting out the blue paint and planning to protest. This guy named Bob Anderson, head of something called the Stop the War Machine, sent e-mails to 1,300 supporters.

Anderson is livid about the state expenditure of $420,000. “Imagine what work we in the grass roots could do with $420,000!” Anderson’s e-mail proclaims. We can imagine. Scary.

But Anderson and his folks won’t get the $420,000. Make love not war is now state business. The New Mexico state government already has invested her taxpayers in the space business, the airline business, the movie business, and the rail commuter business. Now we are in the peace business.

Sorry about those potholes.

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