CHICAGO – On Jan. 16, this city of three million people declared itself for peace when the City Council voted 46-1 opposing a pre-emptive U.S. military attack on Iraq.

“Few matters will have an impact on us more than war. The $1.9 trillion to be spent over 10 years – where will it come from?” asked Ald. Joe Moore, a prime sponsor of the resolution. “From drastic cuts in social spending. Our city will suffer.”

In what observers described as the most impassioned council discussion in years, one alderman after another rose to vehemently denounce the war drive. “The day of the big stick is over,” declared Ald. Ed Smith. “Those people talking about first strike will be eating caviar while some young people are dying.”

“Had this resolution not been introduced, we would have been accused of being morons, amoral. If we don’t speak out for the people – who will?” asked Ald. Bernard Stone, one of the more conservative members.

The overwhelming sentiment was for exhausting all peaceful means to resolve the crisis despite concerns expressed by a few aldermen that the Hussein government posed a threat. To win their support, the sponsors agreed to some compromise language in the resolution.

Ald. Richard Mell decried the waste of resources on war while home foreclosures were reaching crisis levels. “Something is going on with the economy. I don’t know if we can take $5 billion a month (in military expenditures). I’m more concerned with the economy than with Hussein,” Mell said.

“We ought to be creating jobs. One of those smart bombs could take care of our school’s problems. Deploying a battle group would take care of our budget deficit forever,” said Mell.

Some aldermen noted the contradictions in the Bush foreign policy. “There are two sets of rules for Iraq and Korea,” said Ald. Dorothy Tillman, “How can Bush just negotiate with Korea and bomb Iraq. It makes no sense. Why do we want to go to Iraq? Is it for someone evil or is it oil?”

“I have a nephew who is a 19-year-old graduate of boot camp,” said Ald. Danny Solis. “He joined the service so his family wouldn’t have to pay for his education. I don’t want harm to come to him.”

In recognition of the rising opposition to a pre-emptive strike, Ald. Arenda Troutman declared, “Let’s join with the 13 million members of the AFL-CIO, the 50 million members of the National Council of Churches and the 60 million members of the Catholic Church.”

Presiding over the session, Mayor Richard Daley summed things up by remarking, “No one wants war.”

A day earlier the council’s Human Relations committee held a public hearing, which received testimony from a wide array of elected officials, religious leaders, community and peace activists. They included Reps. Danny Davis and Bobbie Rush; John Roberts, dean, DePaul Law School; Rev. Paul Rutgers, executive director, Chicago Council of Religous Leaders; Doug Cassel, director, Northwestern’s Center for International Human Rights; Mark Postillion, trustee, Teamsters Local 705, John Bachtell, Communist Party, USA, Illinois District Organizer and Rev. Edward Goode, United Church of Christ.