The Common Council of Ithaca unanimously passed a resolution urging its United States congressional representatives to vote against any measure that would engage the country in a pre-emptive war with Iraq last Wednesday.
Ithaca is only the second city in the country to pass such a resolution in opposition to warfare. The local council in Santa Cruz, the first city to do so, passed a similar measure last week.
The resolution, addressed to Congressional representative Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Hilary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), articulated a series of arguments in opposition to any U.S.-initiated combat in the Middle East.
Among other arguments, the resolution argued that there has been no proven linkage between the events of Sept. 11 and the government of Iraq, that there has been no proof of Iraq’s immediate threat to the U.S. and that war with Iraq will endanger both American soldiers and Iraqi civilians.
In addition, it cited former United Nations chief weapons inspector Scott Ritter’s disagreement with President Bush regarding Iraq’s possession of dangerous weapons of mass destruction.
The resolution states, “whereas, many knowledgeable individuals, including former U.N. chief weapons inspector Ritter, have disputed the President’s contention that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction that could be a danger to the United States — Common Council urges the city’s representatives in Congress … to vote against any resolution in Congress that would allow the President to declare war on Iraq.”
According to Common Council Member Susan Blumenthal ’78, (D-3rd Ward), the resolution represented the domestic and international concerns of Ithaca’s 30,000 residents.
“We don’t think there is any evidence that war is appropriate at this point,” she said. “As elected officials, we have a unique responsibility to represent the concerns of the people we represent.”
While the resolution itself cannot prevent any measures for pre-emptive warfare, members of the council and supporting local residents are making this gesture to try to influence their U.S. congress members’ votes.
“[This resolution] suggests that elected officials in small cities [like Ithaca] think that pre-emptive war is a bad idea,” said Prof. Isaac Kramnick, government. “It should send a message to Sens. Clinton and Schumer.”
According to Kramnick, however, local anti-war resolutions will make a greater impact in large numbers.
“[The resolution] can only have an effect if more communities follow suit and if the representatives respond,” he said.
While creators of the resolution certainly seek to impact U.S. relations with the Middle East, they also hope that it will impact Ithaca’s local and collegiate community as well.
“One of the goals was to try and elevate discussions in the community. Certainly the Cornell community is a part of that,” Blumenthal said.
In the meantime, Blumenthal and her colleagues hope that Ithaca’s Congressional representation will give consideration to the resolution’s message.
“We hope that our senators and congress members will give serious thought to the points we made and that pre-emptive, unilateral war should not be taken on at this time,” she said.
Other governing bodies in the area have also recently considered drafting similar resolutions to congressional representatives.
The Ithaca Town Board considered preparing a formal opposition to the war but finally decided that the matter was beyond their jurisdiction, as reported by The Ithaca Journal. The Tompkins County Board of Representatives also contemplated drafting an anti-war document but then voted against adding it as an item to their agenda.
Archived article by Ellen Miller