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Carbondale and Basalt officials will pitch peace before war

Elected officials in Basalt and Carbondale want to make a pitch for peace before war breaks out in Iraq.

In unrelated moves, members of both town councils said they will ask their boards to approve resolutions that urge peaceful resolutions to the problems with Iraq.

Basalt Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt said the peace plea is more urgent than ever “because I think we’re going to start bombing people really soon.”

Carbondale trustee Scott Chaplin shares that concern. He circulated a letter among his fellow board members last week announcing that he would introduce the peace resolution at Tuesday night’s meeting.

“It’s crucial right now that people who oppose the war speak up,” said Chaplin. “Once the bombing starts it will be too late.”

This will be the second time Basalt ponders a peace resolution. Dave Reed, a town resident, asked the board earlier this year to take a stand one way or another on the Iraq issue. Council members declined. Councilwoman Anne Freedman helped persuade the board to avoid making statements on U.S. foreign policy.

As an alternative, the Basalt board urged Reed to set up a community forum to discuss different views on Iraq. The forum was held and attracted a lot of interest.

Whitsitt said she hopes the Basalt board will discuss the substance of war and peace this time around rather than just dismiss it as a national issue that should be avoided at the local level. She said it is important to take a stand, even if it is just symbolic. She will reintroduce the topic with Councilman Jon Fox-Rubin.

“At least some of us are willing to gamble that the citizens who elected us believe it’s in our purview to take positions on national issues,” she said.

Whitsitt said she opposes the war because it will kill innocent Iraqis, cost American lives and have economic repercussions. She said a peace plea shouldn’t be construed as disloyal to President Bush or the United States.

“I think it’s totally illogical to blindly follow anyone. I think Germany did that once,” she said.

Fox-Rubin said Basalt should join the 100 or so city or town governments that have passed resolutions in favor of peace.

“The more I looked at it, it’s almost our obligation to weigh in on it,” he said.

Cities supporting peace include Chicago, San Francisco and Denver. The Aspen City Council wouldn’t act on the issue; the Pitkin County commissioners passed a resolution for peace.

Carbondale hasn’t formally voted on a peace proposal although the board of trustees informally chatted, according to Chaplin. In the prior chats, one board member argued the trustees shouldn’t touch national issues. Two others agreed even though they support peace and not war, according to Chaplin.

“It’s going to be close,” he said about a possible vote on his resolution.

The resolution expresses support for men and women in the U.S. military but opposes war on the grounds that innocent people will be killed and there is no evidence that an attack is warranted or that U.S. action will achieve desired goals.

“A pre-emptive and unilateral U.S. military attack would violate international law and our commitments under the United Nations Charter and further isolate the U.S. from the rest of the world,” the proposed resolution says.

Chaplin also said the financial implications of attacking Iraq are too burdensome. He cited a Congressional Budget Office estimate that says a military action against Iraq will cost our nation between $9 billion and $13 billion a month. He wants that money channeled into social programs that have recently been cut by the feds.

The elected officials of both towns said they will forward their resolutions, if approved, to state and national government representatives as well as the White House.

[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com]


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