Warning that war with Iraq will cost thousands of Iraqi and U.S. lives and waste billions of tax dollars needed for education and health care, the city council of Gary, Ind., unanimously approved a resolution Jan.7 opposing war on the oil-rich nation.

Gary became the 36th city to go on record against George W. Bush’s unilateral, preemptive war on Iraq as the “Cities for Peace” movement sweeps the nation and international pressure against war grew as well.

“A new attack on Iraq will cause tens or hundreds of thousands of casualties,” the Gary resolution charged. “The cost to the nation, including the City of Gary, is estimated to be more than $200 billion, thus depleting the reserves, harming the economy, and resulting in further neglect of education, health care, housing and the infrastructure.”

Councilman Alex Cherry, author of the resolution, said, “We have a right and an obligation to protest when we feel that action taken by our government is not in the best interests of our people‚ … the money for the war is going to come from an already distressed system.”

Many Gary residents spoke in favor of the resolution. “This war is not about right or wrong,” said Carolyn McCrady. “It is about oil.”

Vietnam vet Ron Matlock said, “We’re sticking our nose in other people’s business, trying to police the world, and we can’t correct some of the ills we have here at home.”

In neighboring Chicago, Alderman Joe Moore is the author of a similar resolution so far endorsed by 26 of his colleagues. A vote was expected as early as Jan. 16.

Moore rebutted arguments that local governments have no business speaking out against the war. “The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that it will cost somewhere between $9 billion and $13 billion each month to wage war on Iraq,” Moore told the World in a telephone interview.

“Where is that money going to come from? Bush has said that he will not raise taxes so that money can only come from domestic programs like education, health care, affordable housing, public safety. It will be cities like Chicago that are most adversely affected by this unnecessary war on Iraq. Furthermore,” he added, “it will be our young men and women who will volunteer or perhaps be conscripted to fight that war. Our cities have a direct stake in preventing this war.”

In Kalamazoo, Mich., the Board of Commissioners approved a resolution last Oct. 14 urging Bush “to work with and through the United Nations to obtain compliance by Iraq” and to support UN inspections to enforce United Nations disarmament resolutions.

Commissioner Sean McCann abstained from voting despite having strong reservations about the Bush war drive. “I don’t think a case has been made for war,” he told the World. “A month ago, the administration said they had convincing evidence that Iraq is in ‘material breach’ of the UN resolution but, for some reason, they are not sharing that evidence with the American public.”

Similar resolutions are pending in Dallas and Cleveland. Among cities that have already approved anti-war resolutions are Baltimore, Seattle, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

Jen Carr, an organizer for Peace Action, said her group has placed a high priority on mobilizing support for the “Cities for Peace” movement. In a telephone interview Carr told the World the campaign has won broad mass support because the people are not convinced that Iraq poses an immediate threat. “This is a war for oil interests, not for our national security,” she said. “It is a war to spread U.S. control and power around the world. People are not comfortable with that.”

Ron Solomon, a Baltimore peace activist who helped push a peace resolution through the Baltimore City Council, told the World, “Here in Maryland, we have 800,000 people who lack health insurance. The Bush administration can find billions for war on Iraq but our cities are in a deep fiscal crisis without funds for programs that help people.”

The growing movement against war with Iraq will flex its muscles with demonstrations in Washington D.C. and San Francisco on Jan 18. The demonstrations will honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who called himself a “drum major for peace” when he spoke out against the Vietnam War. On Jan. 20 Moveon.com will deliver petitions bearing more than 170,000 names demanding that the White House “Let the UN Inspectors Work.”

A Knight-Ridder poll released by the Miami Herald reports “overwhelming” opposition by the American people to a unilateral U.S. war to remove Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein. The poll found 68 percent favor achieving U.S. goals without going to war while only 34 percent favor “quick military action.”

Paul S. Kaczocha contributed to this article.
The author can be reached at greenerpastures21212@yahoo.com