Rep. Lee Stresses Firm Action, Not War for Situation in Iraq

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U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Berkeley, introduced a resolution opposing a preemptive first strike on Iraq and calling for a peaceful resolution.



Lee's proposal, presented Thursday, states the United States should "work through the United Nations to seek to resolve the matter of ensuring that Iraq is not developing weapons of mass destruction" by pursuing weapons inspections, negotiations and "other peaceful means."

"The world and the Iraqi people would be better off if (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein were not in power," Lee said in a speech to the House of Representatives Thursday. "But I also think we all agree on the fact that our world would be better off with a peaceful resolution to the current crisis."

In her speech, Lee expressed concern for the cost to human lives and international diplomatic relations if the United States takes a military action against Iraq.

"We need to act," Lee said on the House floor. "But we do not need to rush to war. We have alternatives."

Lee also said the cost of war in Iraq would have a negative impact on the U.S. economy.

Some members of the Berkeley City Council said they support Lee's resolution.

"I told Barbara Lee that she's the leader for the country," said Councilmember Dona Spring. "People in my district overwhelmingly support Barbara Lee's position."

Spring said introducing a similar resolution in the council is a "great idea" but added that she plans to consult with other council members before making a decision.

Councilmember Polly Armstrong said she commended President Bush for urging the United Nations to deal with Iraq but added that the situation should not end in war.

Others in Lee's constituency said they disagree with her stance against military action.

"If we follow Barbara Lee's advice, then we're waiting for another Sept. 11 before we do something," said Berkeley College Republicans Senator Paul LaFata. "The first question I would have for Ms. Lee is, when would she approve the use of force? What does it take?"

The majority of U.S. citizens favor using a military action to remove Hussein from power, according to a poll released Wednesday by The Gallup Organization.

More than 70 percent of U.S. citizens said they believe Hussein will use weapons of mass destruction if the United States does not intervene with military action, the poll stated.

Lee presented the proposal on the same day President Bush presented a draft resolution to Congress asking that he be "authorized to use all means that he determines to be appropriate, including force," to "restore international peace and security" in Iraq.

"If you want to keep the peace, you've got to have the authorization to use force," Bush said in a speech Thursday.

Bruce Cain, director of the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies and a political science professor, said Congress would likely pass Bush's resolution and not Lee's because of the number of U.S. citizens who support using a military solution in Iraq.

"Voting no on Bush's resolution still leaves ambiguity about what should be done," Cain said. "But voting yes on Lee's resolution is a pretty strong stand against military action in Iraq."

Last year, Lee was the only member of Congress to oppose a military strike on Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Although Lee received criticism for her opposition, she did not lose her district's support, according to a survey conducted in October 2001 by the Institute of Governmental Studies.


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