FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Madison Votes "NO" on War

by LORI KORTE And MIKE LEON

Madison, Wisconsin. “One function of local government is to inform the national government what the views of its citizens are about issues of national moment.”

Those words were spoken by University of Wisconsin at Madison Professor of Sociology Maurice Zeitlin in 1968 explaining the rationale behind a Madison citizens’ referendum for the immediate cessation of US hostilities during the Vietnam War.

On April 2, 1968 after more than 37,000 American soldiers had been killed, a mere 43 percent of Madisonians voted in favor of the referendum when Madison was a furious hotbed of activism. Today, anti-war sentiment in Madison presents a resolutely more decisive, healthy anti-war proclamation. “It is important to use all available means to prevent this war, and the devastating human suffering it will cause. This is a very serious national effort that may well stretch out over a decade with an occupation,” said Barbara Smith of the Madison Area Peace Coalition (MAPC).

The city of Madison Common Council joined some 13 municipalities, in such locales as Syracuse, New York to tiny boroughs in Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, in officially denouncing early this morning the Bush administration’s desire to preemptively strike Iraq_message, don’t kill in Madison’s name and we will find a way to stop you.

The resolution was passed on an 11 to 2 vote. Seven Council members did not vote. Only one public speaker spoke in opposition to the resolution.

The sadly revolutionary act of passing such a resolution at a community level seems historic to many here in the face of a national political climate where the people feel disenfranchised from their national government and a supine congress (although many here point with pride to the work of Sen. Russ Feingold D-Wisconsin and Rep. Tammy Baldwin D-Madison).

People here are pissed. They don’t want to go to war. The Bush administration is acting on behalf of the American people without hearing their voices. “We are deeply concerned that the current rush to war is subverting our democracy. Americans are not getting enough information about this issue…It is urgent that local leaders step in to provide a forum for citizens to express their opinions”, said MAPC’s Smith, a major supporter of the Madison Common Council resolution and an organization with genuine political clout at the city level.

The resolution gives voice to Madison citizens’ objections to the war and their frustration with the seemingly inevitable path to killing, where the citizens are for now consigned to the position of muffled backseat drivers. “A preemptive strike by the US violates our commitments under the UN charter, goes against established international law, sets a dangerous precedent for the world community, and further isolates the US from the rest of the world”, reads the resolution in part. “Hastily implemented unilateral actions would risk the deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians without guaranteeing the safety of US military, the inability of Iraq to respond, or even the likelihood a new Iraqi regime would adopt national or international priorities more acceptable to the US.”

So what if 13 cities and the DC of Columbia have voiced opposition to the war? Is there actually a peace movement? Does this speak to a widespread commitment to peace? “Passage of this resolution will help build a grassroots movement against the war. It is significant that City governments declare opposition to war. We need to send as many signals as we can that this war is unwanted and unneeded, and a City Council vote such as this adds a certain credibility to that message”, said Melea Carlvin, member of the University Wisconsin at Madison’s Stop the War coalition.

The clear effect of the resolution is that it does not do much good for the 500,000 Iraqis who have died under the harsh UN sanctions. Resolutions also will not comfort the tens of thousands of Iraqis who will die in the near future as the consequence of compliance to this rush to war. So the questions arise–has the citizenry ever had the power to halt the march to war? Can we stop them now?

Many here feel that even without seeing 37,000 body bags, we can rise above the Bush administration’s callousness and cowardice killing Iraqi people and indeed halt a war. Eighty-five years ago people were thrown into jail for merely protesting the entry of the US into World War 1. Thirty-five years ago 37,000 American soldiers were killed, and even in the political hotbed of Madison, only 43 percent voted against a referendum to halt the war then.

But now the eyes of political insight are wide open to the verities of war, and the public relations people hiding the war from public view are abundantly aware of this truism.

“A referendum such as that passed in 1968 would pass overwhelmingly here now,” said Allen Ruff, a veteran peace activist and historian.

And yes there has been a bombing campaign in Iraq; yes we just killed 1,000s in Afghanistan, and the toll continues across the globe.

Standing and doing nothing is not an option. The Madisons, the Berkleys, the Cambridges and New York will lead the way in this peace effort again. But along with these enclaves come Syracuse and a diffuse peace movement that will find a way to halt the destruction of war and until then speak to the international community that the war is waged not in their name.

(Ted McManus provided research for this article)

Lori Korte is a writer living in Madison, Wisconsin. She can be reached at lorikorte@hotmail.com. Mike Leon is a writer living in Madison, Wisconsin. His writing has appeared nationally in The Progressive, In These Times, and CounterPunch. He can be reached at: maleon@terracom.net

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 25, 2016
Mike Whitney
The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives up on Empire
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance
John W. Whitehead
Another Brick in the Wall: Children of the American Police State
Lewis Evans
Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana
Daniel Kovalik
Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads
Sam Husseini
How the Washington Post Sells the Politics of Fear
Ramzy Baroud
Punishing the Messenger: Israel’s War on NGOs Takes a Worrying Turn
Norman Pollack
Troglodyte Vs. Goebbelean Fascism: The 2016 Presidential Race
Simon Wood
Where are the Child Victims of the West?
Roseangela Hartford
The Hidden Homeless Population
Mark Weisbrot
Obama’s Campaign for TPP Could Drag Down the Democrats
Rick Sterling
Clintonites Prepare for War on Syria
Yves Engler
The Anti-Semitism Smear Against Canadian Greens
August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail