Movement for peace grows in Connecticut

Even as U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman steps up his support for the Bush administration’s war on Iraq, the movement for peace grows in his home state.

Connecticut residents, young and old, gathered in 24 old-fashioned town meetings Feb. 24 to organize for a giant March 17 state-wide rally in Hartford calling on Washington to “stop the war and change our priorities.” Days earlier, 117 members of the state Legislature signed a letter to Congress and the president opposing an increase in troops.

The town meetings, sponsored by Connecticut Opposes the War, a coalition of over 40 labor, religious and civic organizations, drew 1,100 participants and attracted significant media coverage.

U.S. Senator Chris Dodd (D) and U.S. Rep. John Larson (D), who represents the greater Hartford area and is a member of the Out of Iraq Caucus, addressed the meetings simultaneously by conference call.

“There is no military solution at all in Iraq,” said Dodd. “If the president won’t change his course, Congress has an obligation to do so. I hope they’ll do it more aggressively.”

Larson, who attended the Windsor meeting, declared, “America found its voice in November and clearly said we need a new direction. Now it’s up to Congress to find its voice and for the president to listen.”

He said Congress should stop any new deployments, and “mandate that we bring the troops home in a safe timeframe.”

Following the conference call, participants in each location prepared to bring their friends, neighbors, family and co-workers to the March 17 rally, which will be held at the Old State House from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m., following the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

At St. James Episcopal Church in West Hartford, state Senator Jonathan Harris decried the $9.2 billion cost of the war to Connecticut, pointing out that West Hartford’s $186.3 million share is more than the entire municipal budget.

In Bridgeport, at the Mt. Aery Baptist Church, Marilyn Moore, administrative assistant to state Senator Edwin Gomes, emphasized the importance of speaking out. “We all have the same power as Rosa Parks; no matter how you package it, it’s all about being right or wrong,” she said. “Our children are dying for a wrong and illegal war, and we here in this room have the endowment to move this forward.”

Two days later, in an op-ed article in the Feb. 26 Wall Street Journal, Lieberman arrogantly dismissed those who call for an end to the war, and attacked Congressional opponents of the administration’s escalation. Lieberman’s argument mirrors that of the Bush administration, eliciting fear tactics and placing the Iraq war as part of a permanent war strategy to dominate the Middle East.

On March 17, the Connecticut AFL-CIO and many individual unions, interfaith groups, churches and peace organizations will rally in opposition to the Bush/Lieberman policy. Decrying the $400 billion spent on the war in four years, over 3,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead and countless more wounded and displaced, they will call for funding instead to “make our cities safe, provide health care, education and jobs for all, and full financial and medical support for returning troops.”