Urging Highland Park IL City Council anti-war resolution - 2

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2003-02-24

Part 2, read to Highland Park, Illinois City Council, February 24, 2003, by Highland Park Citizens United for Peace, in Support of Citizens' Proposal for Resolution Against a Unilateral US War on Iraq.

  1. The Secretary of State is also raucously calling for war, without delay, yet he has provided nothing in the way of believable proof of any grave and imminent threat from Iraq.Up to this point in time, February 24, 2003, resolutions against a pre-emptive US war against Iraq have been passed by upwards of 100 US cities and municipalities (double the number of just two weeks ago.)Many of the county and city councils have liberal leanings, like Berkeley, Cal., Madison, Wisc, and Santa Fe, NM. But others like Des Moines, San Louis Obispo, Cal, and Blaine County, Idaho, have large numbers of Republican voters.Those resolutions are far from the usual disputes of sidewalks, parking problems or open space issues that are the usual municipal agenda items.In some cities officials have also resisted taking even a symbolic stand on what they called an issue of foreign policy. Last month in Portland's usually liberal city council an anti-war resolution was killed by a 2-to-2 vote.But after that the county's Board of Commissioners bypassed the city of Portland by passing a resolution that "opposes a threatened violation of the United Nations Charter by a unilateral, preemptive military action against the sovereign nation of Iraq and the dangerous precedent such action would establish." (NY Times, Jan.30, 2003)
  2. Today I have a short update:From a report in the British Sunday Herald, 17 British companies who supplied Iraq with nuclear, biological, chemical, rocket and conventional weapons technology are to be investigated and could face prosecution. The report also claims that 24 US firms sold like-type weapons to Iraq, among some, mentioned at my last session here two weeks ago, Hewlett Packard, Dupont, etc.These and other western companies were named by Iraq in the 12,000 page dossier submitted to the UN in December, 2002. The Security Council had agreed to US requests to censor 8000 pages -- the sections of the dossier naming western businesses which had aided Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs.The dossier also claims that the US Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Commerce and Agriculture, and the Lawrence Livermore, Los Angeles, and Sandia National Laboratories supplied components of weapons of mass destruction to Iraq. And we should be reminded that all trade in weapons of mass destruction technology has been outlawed for decades.Excuse me, but I believe the fact that the US and other western governments were arming the so-called "Butcher of Baghdad" with the means to commit murder of Kurdish villagers puts to rest any claims of honorable or a "just cause" on our government's part.For how can we say we support a government which says it's against mass murder when that government -- ours -- is on record as being complicit in those very murders?
  3. Conclusion:In light of the Pentagon's beginning attack plan for the deployment of 800 cruise missiles over Baghdad and Basra over the first 48 hours -- cities of dense civilian populations -- and that's just the beginning of the planned offensive -- if truth be told, our government's military policies seem devoid of any sense of justice or proportion or rationality.And this administration is calling for a mindless, collective obedience on the part of its citizens and you, its city officials, a willful and blind obedience that is shameful to observe in an open society with more than 200 years of a democratic tradition.We should perhaps be reminded that this was what was requested of German citizens in the era in Germany before the advent of the Second World War. Good Germans kept their heads down and refused to question authority or allegiance. I for one, refuse to be a "good German." And so I ask you to thoughtfully consider our Resolution.

Result

To the Editor, Highland Park News. February 28, 2003

The action -- or non-action -- last Monday night of the Highland Park city council to consider the citizen resolution against a pre-emptive US war in Iraq has an appearance of bordering on irresponsibility, even neglect of its civic duty. The council would not even stop to consider the ideas or concepts offered in the resolution to ask the government to slow down the rush to war.

Instead, almost all on the council took refuge in the stereotyped argument that such a discussion was "foreign policy" outside of the scope of its mandate -- although more than 100 other US cities and towns, municipalities large and small, plus two state legislatures, have already passed such resolutions. Many more municipalities are also actively considering doing so.

One council member in his refusal to consider the resolution said that in his mind he was elected by his constituents to "guard their safety and that was all," -- sounding like he was the town fireman.

Indeed, does he have so small an imagination that he cannot see that a pre-emptive strike with the fire power that our military will use, involving the deaths of thousands of civilians -- 50 percent of whom are children under 15 -- can only inflame mass resentment and revenge against the country that will cause it -- ours -- and can only place his constituents in real harm's way as a result? Will his constituents be able to ever travel abroad and feel secure, or go to malls, department stores, sporting events, high-rise buildings and feel really protected no matter how many police are present?

As to the council's oft-repeated opinion of "outside our scope," it doesn't take rocket science to understand how the administration's misuse of the billions and billions of dollars for the pursuit of a war plus the cost of its aftermath (to say nothing about the billions of our tax money being given in outright bribes to secure the UN members' votes, reportedly 15 billion to Turkey alone) impinges on the immediate and crying needs of our own cities and towns for health, education, infrastructure, unemployment protection, environmental degradation, etc., etc., etc.

Indeed, at the recent conference of governors, fifty governors have asked the administration for aid to help reduce their huge state budget deficits. The answer by an administration spokesman was, "Sorry, there's no money for that." Social needs will have to wait, even in the face of the massive cuts in social services that face health services and school districts, to name a few.

Outside of the fact that our government's military and foreign policy may seem devoid of any sense of justice or proportion or rationality to some, this administration is also calling for a mindless, collective obedience on the part of its citizens -- and city officials -- not to question the plans it has in place. It is shameful to observe our city council appearing to conform to this in an unwillingness to even debate the issues, and I believe it is irresponsible for this to occur in an open society with more than 200 years of a democratic tradition.