Charlottesville City Council Peace Resolution Faces Challenge Tonight

The Charlottesville City Council in Charlottesville, Va., is set to vote on a resolution this evening urging Congress to reduce military spending and not to launch a new war on Iran.  Four members of the five-member council publicly expressed their support for such a measure at the last meeting two weeks ago: Dave Norris, Dede Smith, Kristin Szakos, and Satyandra Huja. The City manager asked the councilors to submit any proposed changes by the following Friday, a process that resulted in this text for the resolution.

Now the fifth council member, Kathy Galvin, together with Satyendra Huja, has proposed an alternative resolution (Word doc) that omits any reference to war on Iran or to the existence of both ground and drone wars, claims the military is protecting our rights despite the erosion of our rights facilitated by war, inaccurately describes the powers the Constitution gives the President, expresses support for the office of the President less than a month after the power to imprison people without trial was made a part of that office, asks the President and Congress to “continue” working to redirect military spending to domestic priorities which falsely implies that such work is already underway, eliminates a paragraph pointing to the tradeoffs our wealthy nation makes in comparison with other countries by funding the military so heavily, and claims that reducing military spending might endanger the safety of troops.

Galvin also questions some assertions made in the existing draft resolution.  She adds “it has been estimated” to the second paragraph despite the clear evidence: (PDF).  Again, in the seventh paragraph, the evidence is clear here and here.

All that is necessary for the City Council to reject this last-minute altered resolution and pass the version that is already on the agenda is for Norris, Smith, and Szakos, a three-member majority, not to alter their positions.

Charlottesville has a chance to make a real difference in the world by speaking against both excessive military spending and a war on Iran.  Doing so will be noticed in Iran, where tensions are very high.  It will also be noticed in the United States.  People in cities around the country are asking how they can follow Charlottesville’s lead.  They can only do so if Charlottesville does lead.

Charlottesville City Council spoke against attacking Iraq in 2003.  Because of that kind of effort there are now more ears prepared to hear a similar warning this time. The danger of a much larger, and potentially nuclear, war, and the case against it are very clear.

Our lives begin to end, Martin Luther King Jr. said, the day we become silent about things that matter.

Does the danger of senseless slaughter in a nation of 75 million not matter?

Does the potential of wider war among a number of nations not matter?

Does the $100 million that Charlottesville City tax payers hand over to military spending every year not matter when our schools and health and transportation and energy systems are falling behind?

I for one am very grateful that we have at least three courageous members of City Council who are about to honor Dr. Martin Luther King in a very meaningful way.

King opposed the war in Vietnam for the last three years of his life.  He said:

“A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’ This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”