Vote to change U.S. priorities to peace and justice

Posted Sept. 04, 2008, at 11:15 p.m.

News reports have indicated that a large-scale war maneuver called Operation Brimstone took place from July 21 to 31 off the U.S. east coast. According to Stephen Lendman, writing at www.populistamerica.com, the operation was carried out by a joint task force of warships mostly from the U.S. but also from the United Kingdom, France, Brazil and Italy. Lendman suggests that this maneu-ver was in preparation for a blockade of Iran, a contention that appears to be supported by the almost immediate and substantial additions in August to the massive U.S. armada in the Persian Gulf adjacent to Iran, including missile and aircraft launching ships.

By international and U.S. law, a blockade is an act of war, but planned U.S. military action against Iran may not be limited to a blockade, or even limited to aerial strikes. Only time will reveal these secret military plans.

At its meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 8, the town council of Orono will consider adopting a resolution op-posing war with Iran. Citizens having strong feelings about the resolution may wish to attend. The reso-lution was submitted to the council by members of the Orono Peace Group and Orono residents who are members of the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine. These organizations are currently circulat-ing a petition in Orono urging favorable action by the council.

If passed, the resolution would be sent to President Bush and the Maine congressional delegation. We hope that other communities will consider a similar resolution. Bar Harbor and Harpswell have already passed their own. The time may be short, as a military buildup has already begun.

The resolution opposes unilateral preemptive military action by the United States against Iran. It urges the United States to work diplomatically and cooperatively with other nations and through the United Nations to increase diplomatic engagement with Iran to reduce real or falsely-created tensions and security concerns. It also opposes any military action by the United States against Iran without ade-quate congressional hearings and deliberations, and urges Congress to prohibit the use of funds to carry out military action against Iran without clear and explicit congressional authorization.

Some may question whether a resolution addressing federal policies should be considered by local governments. But as Orono and other American municipalities struggle to provide education and other services to their citizens, it has become increasingly clear that foreign policy decisions made in Wash-ington are draining resources needed at home.

To illustrate the impact a war against Iran could have on local public services, consider figures relat-ing to the impact of the current war in Iraq. The war has had enormous costs physically, emotionally and financially here at home, not to mention the much greater suffering — and deaths — of innocent Iraqi people. Public service impacts in Bangor and surrounding communities are increasingly being felt, as detailed by the National Priorities Project (http://nationalpriorities.org). The project is a nonprofit research organization that clarifies impacts of the way our federal tax dollars are being spent.

Below are a few selected impacts of the total U.S. expenditures to date for the Iraq War applicable to Orono, as published by the project. For the same amount of money being spent in Iraq, one of the follow-ing could have been provided in Orono: Health care for 3,267 people for one year, 15,934 homes with re-newable electricity for one year, public safety officers for one year, 179 music and art teachers for one year, 1,390 scholarships for university students or 81 affordable housing units or health care for 3,134 children for one year or 196 elementary school teachers for one year.

These figures compact the impacts into one year, and therefore may greatly exceed real levels or needs by Orono, but they clearly highlight some of the costs we are bearing for a falsely-justified and ill-conceived war.

Do we want to expand such costs by adding to or replacing the current fiasco in Iraq with another in Iran? If not, you can play a role in preventing such cruel waste of resources and help change our priori-ties to those of peace and justice. Come to the Orono Town Council meeting on Sept. 8, or urge your town council to pass a similar resolution.

Ron Davis and Lee Davis are members of the Orono Peace Group.

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