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D.C. Council Opposes Military Action in Iraq

by Stars and Stripes Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2002 at 11:45 PM

City councils in Takoma Park, Berkeley, Calif., Santa Fe, N.M., and several other cities also have passed resolutions opposing unilateral military action in Iraq. Similar resolutions are under discussion in Madison, Wis., and Baltimore.

D.C. Council Opposes Military Action in Iraq
By Craig Timberg and David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, November 8, 2002; Page B07
The D.C. Council voted 10 to 3 last night to formally oppose U.S. military action in Iraq
unless there is proof of an "imminent threat" to national security and widespread support
from the international community for an attack.
The action, which supporters acknowledged had only symbolic value, came despite the
reservations of Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), who questioned whether it was the role
of city legislators to weigh in on a national foreign policy debate.
Crafters of the resolution said they had the responsibility to speak for residents of
Washington, who would send federal tax dollars and soldiers to any war effort but,
because of their lack of representation in Congress, had no say in last month's vote
authorizing President Bush to attack Iraq.
"It's a great issue of our time," said council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) in an
interview. "We're the legislative body for the District of Columbia. Our voices should be
heard, particularly if our sons and daughters are going to be sent to foreign lands."
City councils in Takoma Park, Berkeley, Calif., Santa Fe, N.M., and several other cities
also have passed resolutions opposing unilateral military action in Iraq. Similar resolutions
are under discussion in Madison, Wis., and Baltimore.
The resolution, drafted by council member Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3) in conjunction
with the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal think tank based in Washington, is to be sent
to Williams, President Bush, the Congress and several associations of state and municipal
Marcus Raskin, co-founder of the think tank, which is seeking to push the effort in other
cities, said money spent on war would undercut funding for urban needs. "Cities have to
be clear that they're the ones who are going to be paying for this war," he said.
The two-page text warns: "War waged unilaterally by any individual nation, including the
United States, could set a dangerous precedent for preemptive warfare; violate
international law and the principle of non-aggression among states; undermine the
post-war system for resolution of disputes between nations; destabilize the Middle East;
fuel more terrorist attacks; and undermine the moral authority of the war on terrorism."
The resolution urged Bush not to initiate war on Iraq, despite the approval of Congress,
unless there is proof of an "imminent threat" to the United States, support from the
international community, a comprehensive estimate of costs and a plan to rebuild Iraq
politically and culturally after the war.
"Come on, let's get real here. He can't defend the country until he gets a cost estimate?"
countered council member David A. Catania (R-At Large), who was joined by council
members Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) and Harold Brazil (D-At Large) in opposing the
resolution. "I don't want to be in a position to second-guess the president. For us to have
to go through these hoops before we defend ourselves is very strange."
Because the vote was not a bill, it requires no action by Williams. But in an interview, he
expressed reservations. "We weren't elected to do foreign policy, and I don't think we
should be doing foreign policy," the mayor said. "What's that got to do with running the
White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said of the council vote, "That's obviously their
prerogative. The president's views are very clear." She added that Bush considers
launching war on Iraq a last resort for disarming Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass
destruction, warranted only after other means are exhausted.
Democrats hold a 10-1 registration edge in the District, and 11 of the 13 council members
are Democrats. Yet the city must work closely with Bush and Congress, which has veto
power over most actions of the D.C. Council.

Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this article.
© 2002 The Washington Post Company
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