Some Democratic lawmakers announced Thursday they’re backing a resolution opposing war with Iraq and supporting more time for international negotiators and U.N. weapons inspectors to work.
If the resolution passes in the Democratically-controlled House and Senate next week, Maine would be the first state to oppose going to war, said sponsor Sen. Ethan Strimling, D-Portland.
For more information on the Maine resolution contact:
State Senator Ethan Strimling
firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-287-1515
State of Maine
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Three
Joint Resolution Memorializing the President of the United States to Support the Full Pursuit of Diplomatic Resolutions and Weapons Inspections
WE, your Memorialists, the Members of the One Hundred and Twenty-first Legislature of the State of Maine now assembled in the First Regular Session, most respectfully present and petition the President of the United States, as follows:
WHEREAS, there is an urgent need for genuine multilateral action to eliminate weapons of mass destruction worldwide; and
WHEREAS, governments around the world oppose unilateral action regarding Iraq and support the full pursuit of diplomatic resolutions and weapons inspections before any further military action is taken against Iraq; and
WHEREAS, a war with Iraq will jeopardize the lives of American soldiers and will kill many innocent Iraqi civilians who have already suffered enormously under Saddam Hussein's rule and sanctions of the United Nations; and
WHEREAS, a United States military attack on Iraq threatens the stability of the Middle East region; and
WHEREAS, military action will likely result in a long-term United States military presence; and
WHEREAS, conflict in the area may result in the widespread destruction of the environment and the civilian infrastructure of Iraq; and
WHEREAS, military expenditures will cause ballooning federal budget deficits, further weakening an already sluggish economy and ensuring reductions in federal aid to the State; and
WHEREAS, the State of Maine is suffering from a fiscal crisis such that its ability to stabilize the taxes of the people of the State is being threatened, and programs that benefit working people and the poor are being threatened by severe budget cuts; and
WHEREAS, it has been estimated that a war in Iraq would likely cost the United States taxpayers over $100 billion which would include $267,000,000 from Maine taxpayers, and that could go a long way to meeting our health and education needs; and
WHEREAS, if the country does go to war, this resolution should in no way be interpreted as not supporting the troops, and We, your Memorialists, stand in full and unwavering support of our brave young men and women of the Armed Forces whenever they are called to action; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED: That We, your Memorialists, respectfully urge and request that the President of the United States support the full pursuit of diplomatic resolutions and weapons inspections; and be it further
RESOLVED: That suitable copies of this resolution, duly authenticated by the Secretary of State, be transmitted to the Honorable George W. Bush, President of the United States, and to each Member of the Maine Congressional Delegation and the Governor of the State of Maine.
The nonbinding resolution has full support of all 18 Democrats in the 35-member Senate and support from Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives, which has 151 members.
It is opposed by some Republicans, including House Minority Leader Joe Bruno, R-Raymond, and Senate Assistant Minority Leader Chandler Woodcock, R-Farmington.
Woodcock said he is “offended” by the measure, and that Maine Democrats do not know what they are talking about since they don’t have information that President Bush has. “As a veteran of the U.S. military, I’m in full support of the president, Republican, Democrat or otherwise,” Woodcock said. “They have the intelligence, we don’t.”
At Thursday’s noisy rally Senate President Beverly Daggett, D-Augusta, said the United States “is beginning to resemble a bully in the international community.” If state lawmakers back the resolution, it and the voices of many “will comprise the straws that eventually will break this camel’s back and allow us to fully pursue diplomatic initiatives,” she said.
Strimling acknowledged he’s not a foreign policy expert or veteran, but he is concerned about how Maine is suffering from the bad economy, one that will be made worse by war.
“The war is going to cost upward of $200 billion; that’s from the president’s own advisers,” Strimling said.
“How is it we find enough money to be able to bomb Iraqi families, but we don’t have enough money to provide health care for Maine families and day care for our children?”
The crowd cheered.
“Why does America have enough money to retire Saddam Hussein but doesn’t have enough money to find ways to help our retirees pay their prescription drugs? Why is there enough money to bomb factories in Iraq but we don’t have enough money to open a mill in Great Northern?” he asked.
Standing behind him was a crowd that included Rep. Deborah Simpson, D-Auburn, Sen. Neria Douglass, D-Auburn, Rep. Raymond Pineau, D-Jay, former Green party gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Carter, seniors and veterans wearing military caps.
Afterward, Simpson said she’ll vote for the resolution because she’s opposed to the United States attacking a nation “before it has attacked us. It’s one thing to defend yourself,” it’s another to be the aggressor, she said.
Woodcock, who served in Vietnam in 1969-70 as part of the Army’s radio corps, said he too doesn’t want war.
“What I’m opposed to, and I’m offended by, are Strimling’s remarks that some of the people of Maine have many more concerns than Saddam Hussein,” he said. “Saddam Hussein is a serious concern for us all. History shows that small dictators in obscure areas of the world can become powerful if you allow them to.”
He said he’ll oppose the resolution, and expects other Republicans will also.
Bruno questioned whether state lawmakers are in a position to say that military action does more to threaten the stability of the Middle East region than a continued Hussein-led Iraq. Bruno said he is a pharmacist and a businessman and has his own views about military action. “The people of Raymond and Windham did not elect me to make decisions on such matters, and I have too much respect for them and the Maine Legislature to pretend that this is my decision to make.”
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