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Lansing Council joins 110 U.S.communities in opposing Iraqi war

By DANIEL STURM

Lansing City Council voted unanimously on Monday to take a stance against war in Iraq, calling upon President Bush to pursue all peaceful diplomatic alternatives possible. Lansing became one of the latest of 110 cities and counties to have adopted pro peace resolutions.

Antiwar resolutions have passed in many liberal bastions like Ann Arbor, Boulder, Colo., Cambridge, Mass., and Berkeley, Calif., where opposition to government policy is a tradition. But places known for less radical politics have also been voting for peace, from big cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and Tampa to smaller ones like Fairbanks, Alaska, and Grants Pass, Ore.

Of the 110 local governments to approve antiwar resolutions, nine are in Michigan: Lansing, Ann Arbor, Brown Township, Detroit, Ferndale, Kalamazoo, Manistee County, Pleasanton Township and Traverse City. There are campaigns underway in another 14 Michigan communities. This means that taken together, Michigan ranks second nationally only to California in its expression of antiwar sentiment through governmental resolutions.

Lansing City Council approved the following peace resolution, 7-0, at its Feb. 24 meeting:

WHEREAS, the Lansing City Council cannot speak for all residents, but has been asked by many residents to speak out on this momentous issue facing our nation;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Lansing City Council urges the United States government to pursue all peaceful diplomatic alternatives to disarm Iraq.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Lansing City Council calls on the United States to support the renewal and full completion of the United Nations inspections in Iraq.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Lansing City Council, hereby, urges President Bush to continue seeking a peaceful resolution of issues with Iraq and advises against a preemptive military attack on Iraq unless it is demonstrated that Iraq poses a real and imminent threat to the security and safety of the United States.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Lansing City Council gives its unconditional support to United States military personnel serving at home and abroad in their tireless fight against global terrorism, and should the military forces be sent to Iraq, the Council gives its unwavering support to our young men and women serving in our nation’s military.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Lansing City Clerk send a copy of this resolution to President Bush and each member of the Michigan Congressional Delegation.

Beth Monteith, a co-organizer of the Greater Lansing Network against War in Iraq, said she was glad to see that Lansing had passed a peace resolution. “That’s pretty good, and I can now definitely put this on my banner,” she said. The peace network, which represents 35 organizations in the area, has been mobilizing against the war since November 2002. They sent buses of demonstrators to Washington, organized local and statewide rallies, held numerous peace vigils and asked local governments to pass antiwar resolutions.

Monteith, a minister for the ecumenical Fellowship for Today in East Lansing, said she had been concerned that City Council might not see the urgency of taking sides. But the groundswell against George W. Bush’s plans for a preemptive strike have obviously found a strong echo in this region, apparently enough to affect local politics. About 2,000 protesters marched from MSU to the Capitol on Feb. 15, making it the largest demonstration since the Vietnam War.

The trustees of Lansing Community College may join City Council in approving an antiwar resolution. Trustees will consider one next week at a work session.

To expand their efforts, several Michigan peace groups, including GLNAWI, have recently formed a statewide network, called the Michigan Network for Peace and Against War in Iraq. Michigan activists presented their antiwar agenda for the next four weeks at a Capitol press conference on Feb. 21, announcing “massive efforts” to ask U.S. representatives and senators to repeal the October 2002 authorization to go to war. They called for antiwar rallies on Saturday, March 1, in each of Michigan’s 83 counties. They also plan to organize pro peace rallies in 200 local towns, schools, colleges, and union halls on March 15, followed by a statewide rally that same afternoon at the State Capitol.

GLNAWI co-organizer Mike Doyle, says he thinks that this war can still be stopped. A retired Army lieutenant colonel, Doyle said he doesn’t believe Secretary of State Colin Powell (whom he knew as a captain when they served together at Fort Benning, Ga.) or any of his former military comrades really support the war against Iraq. “It’s archaic — we punish the Iraqis to the point where they’re in dire straits. It’s like being an alcoholic and recovering. How far down do you have to go before you start to come back?”

Doyle said the U.S. government should rather spend money to support the recovery of education, science and industry in an already destroyed country. When I asked him if he thought American soldiers might desert in order to avoid participating in unjustified death intervention, Doyle said that in this respect he saw parallels with discussions currently underway in the Israeli army, where an increasing number of soldiers are deserting. “I know of high ranking officers deserting, because they say they were hired to control the enemies of this country, not to shoot up homes.”

Another unusual Michigan antiwar activist, Mark Powell, a Republican delegate from Grand Ledge, said the war in Iraq was immoral. “President’s Bush’s dismissal of worldwide concerns in order to support his current policies reminds me of a quote from Albert Camus, ‘To justify himself, each relies on the other’s crime.’ America can do better.” Powell said he knew several Republican colleagues in the House for Representatives who were questioning Bush’s foreign policy. “But they don’t feel that they can say this publicly, for fear of their political futures.” Powell said this might change with more Republicans like him standing up to articulate concerns. “When the history books are written 50 years from now, I want them to say that Mark Powell stood up at the time when America needed him the most.”


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