The City Council wants the U.S. out of Iraq–now

Last Wednesday I heard on the Caplis & Silverman Show on 630 KHOW AM radio that the Boulder City Council was going to hear public comment, and vote on whether to adopt a resolution urging the U.S. government to remove our military from Iraq, on Saturday, June 3rd. I tried looking this up in the local paper, but the only reference I found to it on their website was to an Op-Ed written by two Bring the Troops Home Coalition supporters.

The Bring the Troops Home Coalition is a local group of anti-war activists who circulated a petition and got a few thousand signatures from people around Boulder County. This isn’t too surprising, actually. If you were to circulate a petition in Boulder County to legalize marijuana or gay marriage, I’m sure you could get at least that many. Circulating a petition on these sorts of issues around here is work, but it’s by no means an uphill slog. The population is largely “limousine liberal” Democrats. The Republican Party gave up on Boulder several years ago, though individual Republicans still run for office here from time to time. The election of a Republican here is as rare as the birth of a white buffalo. It happens, but when it does it’s considered an anomaly. It’s basically a one-party town and the politics here are what I would call “San Francisco Lite.” San Francisco is more stridently and defiantly liberal than is Boulder, though I think you’d find that by and large San Franciscans and Boulder politicos are down the line in agreement about many issues.

There have been many times when the Boulder City Council has adopted resolutions on national and international issues. Yes, it’s presumptuous, but Boulder is presumptuous. There are things I like about Boulder, but this isn’t one of them. I’ll go so far as to say there are plenty of people here who believe they should be running the country, but realize they don’t (thank goodness!).

I don’t mind if the City Council speaks out on a national issue that has a local effect. For example, about 10 years ago the City of Boulder passed a resolution against the Uruguay Round of GATT, which created the WTO. One reason being that the agreement allowed companies to go to the WTO to complain about and get decisions on local environmental ordinances. They can claim they’re discriminatory and try to get the WTO to pressure our government(s) to change those ordinances. This could have local consequences.

Anyway, I shot off a letter to the Council members voicing my opposition to the resolutions they were considering. They were considering two resolutions: one drafted by the Bring Troops Home Coalition, and one drafted by a Council-appointed ad-hoc committee. Both went in the same direction. Both demanded that the U.S. pull the military out of Iraq. The only significant difference between them was that the BTHC-drafted resolution wanted to set a 6-month timetable for withdrawal. The ad-hoc committee version left the deadline out.

Before I go any further I want to say that it appears that only some of the Boulder City Council members were involved in this. Jumping ahead a bit, six of the nine council members were in session on Saturday morning when the resolutions were being debated and voted on. The ones in attendance were: Mayor Mark Ruzzin, Deputy Mayor Suzy Ageton, Robin Bohannan, Crystal Gray, Shaun McGrath, and Richard Polk. McGrath and Gray were the ad-hoc committee that came up with the Council’s version of the resolution. Maybe the others were away on business/vacation, or were just too embarrassed to get involved in something like this.

I’ll quote give excerpts from the ad-hoc committee version, and comment:

“WHEREAS, The war and continued occupation have resulted in the devastation of Iraq’s physical and social infrastructure and led to widespread and continuous resistance to U.S. occupation that threatens the lives of Iraqi civilians and the men and women who compose the ranks of U.S. and other occupying forces”

Soooo, what they’re saying is they expected the war to be like, a paintball match or something? I liked the touch about “social infrastructure.” Yes, the social infrastructure was so good under Saddam Hussein. Never mind he had government officials wantonly kill hundreds of thousands of people, and bury them in mass graves, and torture and rape innocent civilians who opposed him as a matter of policy. Sometimes he’d have family members watch while their loved ones were raped. But we won’t get into that. Too icky.

And the last part: “widespread and continuous resistance to U.S. occupation that threatens the lives of Iraqi civilians and the men and women who compose the ranks of U.S. and other occupying forces” shows they just don’t understand. The insurgents, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, are fighting us as a strategy. Their ultimate goal in Iraq is to defeat democracy there. They’re attacking us to get us to leave, and they’ve been attacking Shiites because the Shiites have been letting the U.S. military fight their battles for them, to prevent a sectarian war, at least until their most sacred mosque was almost destroyed by the insurgents. I guess that finally made some Shiites go berserk. This is understandable, but it’s what the insurgents wanted. They want as much discord as possible to delegitimize the elected Iraqi government. They want a civil war. They hope the newly born institution can be killed off, and then they can have free run of the country. If you want to know what that would be like, listen to the stories of Iraqis who lived in towns that had been taken over by the insurgents, like in Fallujah. They’ll tell you it was hell on Earth, worse than the U.S. occupation. The citizens of the town began to fight back, but they were no match for the insurgents. It took the U.S. military to come in and clean them out.

What is sad about this is that most City Council members seem to actually believe that the insurgents are something like “freedom fighters” against our oppressive military. They think if we weren’t there, the violence would stop. What simple-minded thinking.

“WHEREAS, On January 21, 2003, the Boulder City Council passed a resolution opposing a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq supporting instead a genuinely multilateral diplomatic approach”

This just shows they’ve lost the point of this war, if they ever got it in the first place. In Attachment A, their 2003 resolution against the war, they talk about anticipated environmental damage as a result of the war. I tell ya. Sometimes I think these people are hopeless. Never mind Saddam Hussein had a history of decimating the environment of the Gulf region. Any damage we’ve done pales in comparison. In fact, the U.S. military has helped restore the marshes for the Marsh Arabs. The same marshes Saddam Hussein drained to destroy the society of the people who lived there. Hey, it’s a wetland area. Doesn’t that count for something?? Is this the “social infrastructure” the City Council was talking about? I think if you asked them about what Saddam did to the Marsh Arabs they wouldn’t know what you were talking about.

Let’s remember that Zarqawi is a part of Al Qaeda and he was in Iraq before we invaded. You know, the one who goes around capturing American contractors (who are rebuilding damaged infrastructure) and Iraqis who oppose him and saws their heads off? He posts videos of his executions on the internet, but I guess some are too squeamish to watch them. Out of sight, out of mind, you know. The only reason I mention this is if you’re a public official and you’re commenting on this war, I would think it would behoove you to know something about what’s going on in the realm you are commenting on. It would help if some people got the full impact of just how vicious these killers are. I think it would wake them up out of their complacency.  Al Qaeda is out to kill you and me. I’m so surprised that many on the City Council have lost sight of this (note sarcasm).

Here’s the kicker:

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the City Council of Boulder urges the United States government immediately commence an orderly and rapid withdrawal of United States military personnel from Iraq, and;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the City Council of Boulder, recognizing that the stability of Iraq is crucial to the security of the residents of Boulder and to all Americans, urges the United States government to provide the people of Iraq with all necessary non-military material aid as shall be necessary for the security of Iraq’s citizens and for the rebuilding of Iraq”

Uh huh….And just WHAT THE HELL DO THEY THINK IS GOING ON OVER THERE???? If nothing else, this just shows that most of the Boulder City Council, not to mention the BTHC, whose resolution has the same language in it, have lost all perspective on this war. They really don’t know what’s going on. First, they want to take out the U.S. military, who has been helping keep security so that the islamofascists don’t take over the government in a coup d’etat. THEN they want to send in non-military aid for the…god, I can’t even say this…(sigh) SECURITY of Iraq’s citizens. Riiiiiiight. That’ll sure work. That humanitarian aid is really going to help the freedom-loving citizens of Iraq fight off the oppressive Al Qaeda and islamofascists. Oh, and we’ll be helping out with the rebuilding of Iraq, too. Never mind that this is redundant since we’re doing that right now. We have contractors over there doing the rebuilding. And what about that money Boulder wanted spent on domestic programs? Hmmm. That could be tough even after we take the military out, because Al Qaeda would go on a rampage, and you know, they’d destroy a lot of stuff. Bummer. But oh, that’s right. It wouldn’t be usdoing the destroying (wars involve destruction, plus rebuilding). We can all feel good inside about that. Yes. I guess Al Zarqawi (or Osama bin Laden, take your pick) has a construction company, and you know, we can help fund Al Qaeda’s building projects in Iraq, once they’ve destroyed the Iraqi government. Gosh, SOUNDS GOOD TO ME! Sign me up for that one! Sheesh! (holding head in hands in utter disbelief)

It’s hard for me to predict what would happen if we pulled out before the Iraqi government and military were ready to take over, but I see no good scenarios coming out of it. Nature abhors a vacuum. Whatever happened, we could forget about assisting in rebuilding Iraq. The Kurds in the North could declare independence, causing a war between them and Turkey. Turkey has said that an independent Kurdish region is intolerable. Iran could invade and try to take over some or all of the country. Or Al Qaeda could succeed in toppling the Iraqi government and establish a Taliban-like regime. How would the surrounding countries, like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, and Egypt react to any of these scenarios?

The City Council “plan” would not contribute an iota to the stability of Iraq. It’s interesting they recognize that the stability of Iraq is necessary for the security of the U.S. Too bad they don’t have a clue on how to provide it. This is a case of “Better to be thought of as a fool than to open your mouth and confirm it.”

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the financial resources used to prosecute the war be redirected to address urgent domestic needs”

Uh huh. Soooo in other words rather than fighting Zarqawi (Al Qaeda in Iraq) and other Islamofascists there, they’d like the federal government to put more money into C.U. Boulder, NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Medicare, and the like. Yes, you see, Boulder has been suffering from a drop in sales tax revenue since about 2002 (and it’s still dropping), and since C.U. Boulder, NIST, and NOAA are the 2nd (C.U.) and 3rd (science labs) largest employers in town (the City of Boulder is the largest employer), Boulder wants more federal money. It’s nice to know the City Council is looking out for itself and many of its citizens over the national defence. If the City Council would actually try promoting business development in town and getting the city’s economy off reduce the city’s dependence on the federal dole they wouldn’t be worrying about this so much. I realize, and I say this in all seriousness, the City Council members are sincere in their beliefs, but putting this in there was just petty. There are much larger things at stake here, and I hate to say this, but some in this town are just too selfish, too small-minded, and I dare say childish, to see that.

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the City Council of Boulder urges the federal government to take steps that will make our nation energy-secure in an environmentally sustainable manner”

Now this is something I can support. I think if the City Council had passed a resolution that had this as the only resolution to some of the “whereases” (I would’ve really preferred they left some out because they were inane), I would’ve stood in support of it. I like the idea of energy independence. There are some who believe it will allow us to get out of the Middle East altogether, but they forget that there’s a little thing called Israel. Al Qaeda uses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to give people in the Middle East and Asia a motive to join them. All energy independence will give us is diplomatic leverage over countries in the region. OPEC and countries in the region wouldn’t be able to yank our chain with the oil supply.

The City Council Meeting, Saturday, June 3rd

I listened to parts of the last hour of the session. The public testimony from the audience was concluded. Council member Robin Bohannan seemed visibly moved by the testimony. She spoke in favor of the Council version of the resolution. In fact, every member there, except for Polk, spoke in favor of the Council’s version, and not the BTHC version. The member who was most vocal against the BTHC version was Council member Shaun McGrath who said that setting a deadline for pullout would decrease the legitimacy of the resolution. As you can see, I think there are some other things that discredit this resolution, but…whatever.

I say this sardonically, but what added a little “comic relief” was when Council members were debating whether they should add language to the Council’s version of the resolution about the U.S. government relinquishing whatever claims it may have to permanent or temporary military bases in Iraq. Now, really. So some on the City Council fancy themselves foreign policy experts? McGrath showed some sanity by saying he didn’t know whether temporary bases would be necessary in order to provide security. He was willing to let the Feds deal with that issue. Hey, give a point to McGrath.

I was truly disappointed in Council member Suzy Ageton. I voted for her two times on the idea that she would focus on trying to encourage business to come to Boulder. She said during her campaigns that she was cognizant that tax revenue for the city was dependent on a healthy local economy. I couldn’t agree more. Suzy was the one who proposed adding most, if not all, of the Ageton proposed several amendments to the Council resolution on Saturday. I cannot abide this, however. She was basically for the Council resolution, but she would’ve felt more satisfied if it had said things like “we relinquish claims to all military bases in Iraq.” If she were truly focused on bringing business to town, I doubt she would’ve engaged in the silliness that happened on Saturday.

Everybody in Colorado knows about this resolution now, and it’s once again confirmed Boulder’s image as “20 square miles surrounded by reality.”

Some might say, “Why are you raking Boulder City government over the coals for this?” I’m doing it because this is a symptom of a government that is not focused wholeheartedly on the city’s issues. And it’s at times like this when I’m embarrassed for my city, especially because the City Council members should know better. They are incompetent on this issue. They should not be wasting time on it. Doing so just makes them look like idiots rather than government officials who have something constructive to say.

Secondly it was unnecessary. Citizens have always had the right to petition their federal representatives with their complaints about policy. I’m sure they’ve heard from their constituents and have chosen to take a different course from what some of them want, using their considered judgement. There are some here, including in city government, who are just not satisfied with that, and have the temerity to act like they speak for the whole city.

I wish they’d focus on what they’re good at. We’d all benefit from that.

In closing, I’d like to compliment Council member Richard Polk. His statement against the both resolutions was short and sweet, but so powerful, in my opinion. He said that back during the Vietnam War, he was an anti-Vietnam War activist. He said he felt great when the military pulled out, at the time. But, he said, as time went on, and he learned what happened in Cambodia after the pullout, he felt troubled by the massacre of two million people that occurred as a result (at the hands of the Khmer Rouge), the Killing Fields. He said he was mindful of that in this situation. He also said he felt that the whole of the population of 100,000 people in Boulder was not represented there on Saturday. So he voted against it both resolutions. Thank you, Councilman Polk. You were a lone voice, but I could relate to what you said.

There was a movie made in the 1980s called “The Killing Fields.” It’s a drama portraying the secret U.S. war in Cambodia during the Vietnam War, the pullout of U.S. forces in Cambodia, and the slaughter that happened in Cambodia afterwards at the hands of its own people. It’s a powerful, true story. If any of you reading this haven’t seen it, I encourage you to do so. It’s worth it to check out the DVD. The extras really fill in the story. It’s a cautionary tale about the situation we’re in right now, and the consequences of making choices in military conflicts that are based on too much idealism, and political expediency.

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