City council against Iraq war

Some say Minneapolis’s formal opposition to the war is purely symbolic.

Charley Bruce

Minneapolis joined cities across America by formally announcing opposition to the war in Iraq.

Nine members passed the resolution, authored by 10th Ward Councilman Ralph Remington, with four members abstaining at the last council meeting.

The resolution calls for a complete withdrawal from Iraq; full medical, psychological, educational and disability benefits for returning soldiers; making the Iraqi military responsible for their own security and stabilizing Iraq through diplomatic channels.

Remington, an Army veteran, said it was time to join other major cities in opposition to Iraq.

“The fact of the matter is city money is being spent on this war,” he said.

Remington said the resolution isn’t merely symbolic.

“We are representative of the city of Minneapolis and the city of Minneapolis says, ‘We are against this war.’ That’s big,” he said.

According to Cities for Peace, an Institute for Policy project, there are more than 200 cities from 16 states that have passed resolutions against the Iraq war.

Councilwoman Betsy Hodges, Ward 13, opposes the war in Iraq but abstained from voting, saying municipalities ruling on federal matters is a “slippery slope.”

“I prefer to focus my work on the municipal issues in front of us,” she said.

Hodges said the city’s best route to influence the federal government is its legislative agenda.

More than 60 colleges or universities are against the war, according to Cities for Peace, with either faculty, student governments or the entire institution formally against the war. The University of Minnesota was not listed on the Web site.

Minnesota Student Association President Max Page said the University student government has not made a statement against the war and doesn’t plan on it.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate,” he said.

He said he is not sure if there is a single University opinion of the war because there are multiple governing bodies around the University.

Chemistry junior and Army veteran Jeremiah Peterson said he isn’t sure what the city council would accomplish by calling for a withdrawal.

“Passing a resolution against the war in Iraq in any major city doesn’t really accomplish anything except voicing the local dislike for the war,” he said.

When he was in Iraq, he said, it hurt to see protestors and felt like they were against him, not just the war.

“It’s not really a good way to support the troops,” said Peterson, who served for almost two years.

Peterson, president of the Comfort for Courage student organization, said many of the resolution’s proposed benefits for vets are given out by the state and could have a positive impact on veterans.

Amanda Hess, a political science and Spanish senior, said she likes Minneapolis expressing its stance to the federal government.

The war was poorly planned and “the military presence isn’t working,” she said.

She said she believes more cities acting similarly could bring change, but at a minimum it increases dialogue.

Claire Goebel, an individualized studies junior, said she doesn’t see what the city council can do to affect the war in Iraq.

“It shows what we think as a city,” she said. “It’s more symbolic.”

But Goebel said if every city took a stand and told the federal government they want to pull troops out, it would be more effective.

“It would speak to Congress in ways that civilians couldn’t by standing outside of their offices and holding signs,” she said.

Goebel said it’s good to know where city leaders stand but isn’t sure if withdrawing the troops is the right action.

“It’s a gamble,” Goebel said.

There was an attempt four years ago by former 2nd Ward Councilman Paul Zerby to pass a resolution opposing prewar efforts, but it was blocked and didn’t receive a full council vote.

Zerby said he doubts the current resolution will have any great impact with the current administration.

He said he doesn’t pretend to know how to solve the problems in Iraq, but there are three options: escalate, withdraw or do more of the same.

“What’s the old definition of being nuts? When you keep doing the same thing and expect a different result,” Zerby said.