Here’s What It Has to Do With Mine
By David Swanson
At the Charlottesville City Council’s October 6th meeting, a group of citizens organized by the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, urged the Council to take up at its November meeting a resolution opposing a U.S. attack on the nation of Iran. While Mayor Dave Norris has expressed support for the idea, it is not clear where the four other City Councilors stand.
Wars of aggression are illegal and are all such a resolution would oppose. Nobody has even suggested the possibility of Iran attacking the United States. Numerous claims have been proven false that alleged the Iranian government was attacking U.S. troops in Iraq, but let’s assume that’s true. Aiding a population against a foreign occupation is not grounds for war. The United States aided France against a German occupation and considers that action its most legal, moral, practical, and glorious ever engaged in.
Possession of weapons is not grounds for war. The United States has more nuclear weapons than anyone else. This is not grounds to attack the United States. A U.S. National Intelligence Estimate in 2007 said that Iran had not worked on developing nuclear weapons since 2003. U.S. threats and provocations are boosting support in Iran for a militaristic leader. Bombing would do the same, as well as resulting in massive death and destruction and likely retaliation against U.S. troops in Iraq and against Israel. It’s not always remembered that inspections worked in Iraq. If we want to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, we need to keep the inspectors in, and we need ourselves to begin adhering to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
In 2003, Iran proposed negotiations with the United States with everything on the table, including its nuclear energy technology. President Bush refused. Last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited New York and expressed support for peaceful relations with the United States and for a two-state solution in Palestine.
The two major candidates for president of the United States refused to commit to not aggressively attacking Iran. One of them excited his supporters by singing “Bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran.” But he lost, and President-Elect Obama already yesterday sat down and met without preconditions with an unpopular aggressive world leader, George W. Bush — apparently without dire consequences. Surely he can meet with Ahmadinejad.
A resolution in Congress that would encourage a blockade of Iran has enough cosponsors in both houses to pass if brought up for a vote. Thus far, public opposition has prevented that from happening. However, the House last month passed a bill requiring sanctions and divestment against Iran, including by local governments like the City of Charlottesville.
In February 2003, our City Council passed a resolution opposing an attack on Iraq. While that occupation continues, city resolutions have helped to educate the public and to increase and organize citizen involvement on behalf of peace. It is that citizen involvement that has prevented the resolution on blockading Iran from coming up for a vote.
Citizens of Charlottesville have thus far paid or borrowed over $64 million for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. That’s not counting further expenses already authorized, the cost of veterans’ care, the effects of the rise in oil prices, the debt payments that will have to be made, etc. Based on the calculations in “The Three Trillion Dollar War,” the true cost to Charlottesville citizens is closer to $640 million. A war on Iran would make that look like pocket change.
If a federal action has a significant negative impact on a city, then it is appropriate for the city to defend itself, its budget, and the lives of local members of the military and the National Guard.
City Councilor Holly Edwards recently wrote in a letter to the Daily Progress: “I don’t think it’s appropriate to get involved with national issues when locally there is so much work to be done to stop gun violence here at home.” Edwards expressed a desire to eliminate racism and violence in Charlottesville first, and only then to comment on national matters. But there is no local solution to either of those problems, not with national figures promoting racism, and guns coming in from outside the city. The most important step Charlottesville has taken to end racism was the recent (probable) electoral defeat of Congressman Virgil Goode.
Over 1,500 people in Charlottesville have signed a petition advocating for passage of a resolution opposing an attack on Iran. There is no doubt that a majority of the people here oppose such an attack. Passing such a resolution is the work of five minutes at zero public expense. Let me say that one more time: FIVE MINUTES’ WORK AT ZERO PUBLIC EXPENSE. I can’t believe those five minutes cannot be found, and must conclude that if our City Councilors do not pass this resolution, they are simply not as opposed to another war as we are.