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By a narrow margin, LCC trustees approve Iraq war resolution

By DANIEL STURM

There are interesting developments in the politics of peace and war this week, which are taking place – as they do – both on local and international levels.

On the local level, Lansing Community College Board of Trustees voted 4-3 Tuesday in favor of taking a stance against war in Iraq.

Board President Brian Jeffries and members Todd Heywood, Kathy Pelleran and Marylou Mason voted for the resolution. Olga Holden, Thomas Rasmusson and Mark Canady opposed it.

Board members asked President Bush to let the weapons inspection work and to “bring our troops home and spare them from the horrors of war.”

The resolution was submitted by LCC’s People for Positive Social Change, a member organization of the Greater Lansing Network Against War in Iraq. The network, which represents 35 organizations, has been mobilizing against the war since November 2002. Last week, their efforts paid off when Lansing City Council voted to adopt a peace resolution, becoming one of about 130 municipal governments to do so.
Activists argued war with Iraq would cause budget cuts for education. They pointed out that while $288 billion went into military spending this year, education was being gutted, with an expected 10 percent cut in state and federal spending by 2004. They also said students would not be spared if a draft was reinstated. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-New York) has introduced a bill for compulsory military or national service for men and women, ages 18 to 26, which does not exempt university students.

The resolution LCC passed is the same as the one City Council passed, except that Lansing Community College was substituted for City Council. Jeffries, who is also a member of City Council, wrote the original resolution.

The strongest language in the resolution opposes a preemptive strike against Iraq.
On the international level, the groundswell against Bush’s plans for preemptive strike has apparently begun to affect U.S. foreign policy.

In a radio interview aired March 1, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said for the first time that the Administration will give more time to weapons inspectors in Iraq, and that a UN vote on the proposed resolution for U.S.-led military action in Iraq will be delayed.

Powell’s announcement comes after a series of diplomatic setbacks for the Bush Administration, complicating their plans for an early to mid-March timetable:
Turkey’s parliament speaker nullified the legislature’s March 1 vote in favor of allowing 62,000 U.S. combat troops to deploy troops in southeast Turkey. Experts say that overthrowing Saddam Hussein without bringing in ground forces through Turkey would be extraordinary difficult.

The US’s closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, was weakened by a House revolt Feb. 26, when 121 Labor Party representatives disapproved his foreign policy. This is the largest rebellion against a prime minister from members of his own party in more than 100 years. Blair linked the situation to the pre-WWII era, saying that appeasers during the 1930s had been wrong – a statement which inflamed his opponents. Lord Kenneth O’Morgan, a fellow at Queen’s College in Oxford responded to Blair’s historical parallel between Saddam and Hitler, saying: “Time and again we hear that this crisis is the 1930s come again - what nonsense. Saddam is not another Hitler. […] George Bush is certainly no Churchill; it would be a calumny on the reputation of that great man to suggest it. It is a facile argument, and it disturbs me that Downing Street produces it, all the more because I taught one or two of them. My efforts were clearly in vain.”

The political advisor in the U.S. Embassy in Athens, John Brady Kiesling, resigned from office last week because of his disagreement with this government’s “fervent pursuit of war.” In a letter to Powell published in the New York Times on Feb. 27, Kiesling wrote: “We spread disproportionate terror and confusion in the public mind, arbitrarily linking the unrelated problems of terrorism and Iraq. The result, and perhaps the motive, is to justify a vast misallocation of shrinking public wealth to the military and to weaken the safeguards that protect American citizens from the heavy hand of government.”

In a Virtual March organized by the online group Moveon.org, the U.S. Senate and White House received more than one million phone calls, faxes, and emails on Feb. 26. Staffers at offices on Capitol Hill were overwhelmed by ringing phones.
In local politics, Moveon.org’s latest action was inspiring news for the Michigan peace movement, and on March 1, 2,000 people gathered at 35 county courthouses throughout the state to protest against the war. This event was organized by the Michigan Peace Network, an umbrella group of regional peace teams. Lansing resident Frank Dennis, who was among one hundred activists rallying at the Ingham County Courthouse in Mason, said he still felt optimistic. “There’s more and more going against the war. Bush will have to find some excuse for not going to war.”

Aaron Stuttman, peace activist and member of the Capital Area Green Party, said, “I think people around the world realize that war doesn’t benefit anybody.” Stuttman said that as a massage therapist it was only natural for him to want to help heal the entire world, and not just the people in his own small niche. “We need to outlaw war. If we spend just a fraction of the money we spend on the military, human suffering would be greatly reduced.”


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