Lawmakers oppose Iraq war

CHICAGO – With the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks upon us, lawmakers are speaking out against the Bush-Cheney plan to invade Iraq in the name of the “war on terrorism.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) convened a “Focus on the Economy” town hall meeting at the Lake Shore campus of Loyola University in her district the evening of Sept. 3. It was a standing room crowd and Schakowsky and two panelists delivered hard-hitting blasts against Bush-Cheney giveaways to Big Business and the rich. Schakowsky said she was hearing from her constituents that “it’s the economy, stupid.”

“This is an administration that has squandered a $5 trillion surplus in only one year …,” she added, “an administration that has given $2 trillion in tax cuts mostly to the wealthiest Americans ... an administration that has rejected a comprehensive worker pension protection plan.” But from the floor, a member of Evanston Neighbors for Peace expressed concern that Schakowsky had not mentioned Bush’s war drive against Iraq.”

Schakowsky then delivered a stinging blast at Bush and Cheney for threatening a unilateral war that could cost thousands of lives. She vowed when she returned to Washington to “vehemently oppose” a war against Iraq. The crowd responded with a standing ovation.

Hers is not the only anti-war voice on Capitol Hill. In an interview on Fox News last week, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), pulled from his breast pocket a copy of the U.S. Constitution and warned Bush against violating a clause conferring on Congress the exclusive power to declare war. Byrd repeated several times that Bush is planning “an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation.”

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said, “I think most Democrats believe the president has yet to make the case for taking action in Iraq. I think unilateral action has very dire consequences for our country.” Even Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), a warhawk who has always supported George W. Bush, said, “I do think that we’re going to have to get a more coherent message together.” James Baker, who served as Secretary of State in the George Bush (senior) administration, warned that the U.S. could get mired in urban warfare in Baghdad. The Iraqi soldiers, Baker opined, would be “fighting to defend their homeland” and thus put up far stiffer resistance than in 1991.

Cheney delivered a bellicose speech to a convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in which he dismissed out of hand Secretary of State Colin Powell’s call for sending in U.N. weapons inspectors to determine if Saddam Hussein is developing weapons of mass destruction. Cheney scorned the suggestion on grounds that inspectors “would provide no assurance whatsoever” of Iraqi compliance with U.N. disarmament resolutions and would instead provide “false comfort.”

White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card told Newsweek that Bush had not authorized Cheney’s language on U.N. inspections. Newsweek also quoted administration sources saying that Cheney did not check out the accuracy of allegations he made against Iraq – signs of deep splits within the Bush administration. The disarray was compounded by reports that Powell plans to resign at the end of Bush’s first term.

The New York Coalition for Peace & Justice (NYCP&J) is commemorating the first anniversary of the terrorist attack with a “9/11 Remembrance for Global Peace and Justice.” Participants are urged to gather in Times Square Sunday, Sept. 8 at 2 p.m. and march to Union Square for a rally with speakers and music. An all-night vigil is scheduled Sept. 10-11.

NYCP&J charged in its call that Bush is “using the tragedy of Sept. 11 to justify an endless “war against terrorism” ... Iraq is the next major target. Dissent against this war is not terrorism. It is not unpatriotic … Join us from Sept. 6-11 to remember the victims of Sept. 11 and others around the globe to call for peace, for global justice, for grassroots democracy, to protest against war and the erosion of democratic freedoms and civil liberties at home.”

The authors can be reached at suewebb@pww.org and greenerpastures21212@aol.com