Pre-Emptive Strike Opposed By City Council

Wendy Lee covers the City Council. E-mail her at [email protected].

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The Berkeley City Council joined other Bay Area councils last night when it unanimously passed a resolution opposing a pre-emptive U.S. military intervention in Iraq.

"I felt really good (that we passed the resolution) because people in this area do not want the U.S. to go to war," said Councilmember Dona Spring.

The legislation came in response to an amendment proposed by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Berkeley, which was rejected Thursday by the House International Relations Committee.

Lee's amendment asked the U.S. government to work with the United Nations to ensure "by peaceful means of negotiation" that Iraq "is not developing weapons of mass destruction.

Despite the failed amendment, the council voiced its support for the legislation.

"The resolution has been defeated, but it will send a message on how the citizens of Berkeley feel," said Councilmember Miriam Hawley. "This will give more strength and credibility to Barbara Lee's efforts in (Congress) to show there are alternatives to war."

Lee is currently proposing a new "Alternative to War" amendment, which will be voted on by the House of Representatives Thursday, she said in a statement.

The amendment serves as opposition to the Bush administration's support for a preemptive strike against Iraq, the statement said.

"Bush did not make a convincing case for a unilateral first strike," Lee said of a television address made by President Bush Monday. "Nor did he offer any acceptable rationale for his dangerous and unprecedented doctrine of pre-emption."

The moderate and progressive factions of the council had drafted separate similar resolutions in support of Lee's legislation but agreed on a combined proposal at last night's meeting.

"I'm thrilled that we have a consensus to do the right thing," said Councilmember Kriss Worthington. "I hope it's a start of a trend."

Spring tried to propose an amendment to the council's legislation last night. Her amendment asked national leaders to "prohibit" policymakers "from any personal financial advantages" resulting from their policy's implementation.

Spring voiced her opposition of military action in Iraq, saying, "a pre-emptive strike will make us less safe as most countries in the world will come to fear us."

The four authors of the original resolution did not approve of Spring's amendment.

Councilmember Polly Armstrong said Spring's amendment turned "useful proclamation" into "absurd" legislation, citing that it was poorly written.

Spring said she hopes the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission will adopt her amendment as part of their resolution.

The legislation follows other similar resolutions passed by the Santa Cruz and Oakland city councils.

"I think all the polls show that California does not feel like the rest of the country," said Councilmember Betty Olds. "The president needs to know the Bay Area has a distrust for this pending war he seems to want so badly."

Council members said they were approached by Berkeley residents who requested a resolution opposing war in Iraq.

But Berkeley resident Francesca Healy said there was not an accurate presentation of the pro-war side at the council meeting.

"I would have liked to hear both sides," Healy said.


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