Urging Highland Park IL City Council anti-war resolution - 1

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2003-02-10

Part 1, read to Highland Park, Illinois City Council, February 10, 2003, by Highland Park Citizens United for Peace, in Support of Citizens' Proposal for Resolution Against a Unilateral US War on Iraq.

  1. Local antiwar sentiment in the US has encouraged dozens of cities and counties around the country to pass resolutions imploring President Bush to slow down his confrontation with Iraq.Some of the resolutions ask for more evidence that Iraq is hiding weapons. Some urge Mr. Bush to work more closely with the United Nations. Almost all oppose a unilateral preemptive strike.For some unexplained reason, the passing of those resolutions against preemptive attack has not been headlined in our press, so it may not be known universally. But city and county councils in 22 states have passed such resolutions, from small towns like Woodstock, NY, or San Louis Obispo, Cal, Nederland, Colorado, Amherst, Mass., to cities large and small such as Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Madison, Cleveland, Portland, Santa Fe, and many more, bringing to 65 the number of municipalities -- and two state legislatures, Maine and Hawaii (!) that have passed them, representing together more than 15 million people. In our own suburban [Chicago] area Oak Park and Evanston are on the list.More resolutions may be on the way. The Institute of Policy Studies, a think-tank in Washington, DC, reports that 70 other cities and counties were considering similar resolutions.As Alderman Joe Moore of Chicago said, after a 46-to-1 resolution vote in January 2003, "There's a strong feeling here that the president has not made the case that we should depart from 200 years of history by launching a preemptive strike against another sovereign nation."
  2. In fact, as far as making the case, the appearance of Secretary Colin Powell at the UN, billed beforehand as the defining moment when incontrovertible proof of Iraqi chicanery and menace was to be delivered to the world -- it was, as Chicago Tribune columnist Salim Muwakkil said, short on revelation and long on assertions and audio visual aids that may have played well in Peoria but did little to convince the UN Security Council (and maybe not Peoria either).The data presented by Powell, compiled by the British government depicts an allegedly up-to-date and very serious assessment of Iraq's efforts to hide its activities from weapons inspectors Blix and Barradi.However, as reported by BBC a day later, much of the information was lifted in whole or in part from an academic journal published in California last September, written by a graduate student who was writing about Iraqi intelligence activity in 1990 and 1991. More "information" about Iraq's military activity was taken from "Jane's Intelligence Review" published in the summer of 1997.The New York Times reported (9 Feb 2003) that the information "appeared to have been largely cut and pasted together and that the articles relied upon were based on information largely obsolete."As for the "poison factory" in northern Iraq depicted in Secretary Powell's audio-visual, the Times reported that the Islamic group that occupies it now invited 20 journalists into the compound (reported on 9 Feb 2003) and they reported that it was "a largely undeveloped cluster of buildings that appeared to lack substantial industrial capacity...structures that did not have plumbing and had only limited electricity supplied by a generator. Roughly half the buildings in the compound appeared to have recently been civilian homes...the remaining buildings serving as fighters' barracks or as a television and radio station for the Islamic party."I emphasize this very important news item because for some reason the local editorials and columns are ignoring it. And unless a reader is alerted to the back pages -- page 11 and 17 is where these reports appear in the Chicago Tribune and the NY Times respectively -- or has access to an alternative press website, one would be unaware that there is another side to the story which may contradict what is raucously showcased by our government spokesmen.Secretary Powell should have egg on his face after this sham report using deceptively outdated data and unsubstantiated allegations with dubious "proof" of intent to deceive by Iraq. It certainly shows how little concrete evidence the administration has against Iraq at this stage, as well as how poor its intelligence is, if it, indeed, relies on it.It also shows a possible desperation to create any pretext to attack.One could argue that, as one commentator said, the best evidence Secretary Powell could have shown the UN would have been a pile of shipping manifests from the mid-80s of chemical and biological warfare materials given freely to Hussein by American, British and German firms; among the American ones reported are Union Carbide, Honeywell, Bechtel, and Hewlett Packard.An investigation by the Senate Banking Committee in 1994 found that dozens of biological agents were shipped to Iraq in the 80s under license from the Commerce Department, including various strains of anthrax and other biological and chemical weapon components, and this was a continuing policy up until the end of the Iran-Iraq war -- while Washington had full knowledge of Iraq's use of them against the Kurds.
  3. The moral imperative: International aid agencies have warned of a humanitarian catastrophe in the event of an Iraq war which could leave millions without food or shelter. The UN which drew up a request at the meeting in Geneva in December for $37.3 million from donor countries was reported as increasingly worried about the scale of any potential disaster. As reported in the British "Observer" UN officials complained that the US administration is refusing to listen to warnings about the scale of a possible humanitarian disaster.But the final catastrophic scenario of the administration's planning is reported by CBS News correspondent David Martin who detailed the leaked Pentagon plan for one day in March. The Air Force and Navy is to launch between 300 and 400 cruise missiles at targets in and around Baghdad. On the second day the plan calls for launching a second round of the same -- 48 hours, 600 to 800 cruise missiles over a city of five million people. "The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never been contemplated before," said one Pentagon official. "There won't be a safe place in Baghdad."We still have time to demand of our government that this insanity stop here.