Evolving Peace

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

VT House A Step Ahead of US House

As the US House of Representatives mulls over the debate of the Iraq war, the Vermont State Legislature called on a bolder initiative to bring all the troops home now. The first resolution of its kind and it is clear that the people in Vermont say no to war. Led by Rep. Michael Fisher the sponsor of this resolution he stated that the Vermont House floor is “as good of a place to have a debate…this is a discussion our constituents care about and Vermonters have paid enough.”

Although the resolution passed 95-52 debate was raucous with emotions. Surprisingly, Rep Leo Valerie of Barre charged that it was nothing but “cut and run.” He stated he was proud of the tradition of duty, honor and country while he declared that the only exit strategy was for complete victory. Thankfully that was not the mood of the general audience, Rep Sue Minter of Waterbury countered with that troops must be “brought home away from a country where they are considered occupiers not liberators,” and delivered with the eloquent response “250 billion for war at the same time we don’t have money for Vermonters.”

Debate was slowed down by attempts from Republicans to bury the resolution. Amendments on language and calls for sending the resolution to committee were futile. One change in the resolution removed language that stated the presence of troops was creating instability. Passionate charges that it would send a mix message to the troops there already, despite having veterans of the Iraq war in the house chambers.

The most bizarre statements from the opposition came from Rep Kilmartin of Newport who rattled of fear tactics and misalignment of historical references. Visions of suitcase bombs, terror plots by Osama and Saddam, Kilmartin read the Neo-Conservative playbook as if President Bush and Dick Cheney called him to voice their side. He mixed in historical references that have no relative historical perspective to the situation, such as Lincoln in the Civil War (As a sidebar there were draft riots opposing that war), Winston Churchill and what would Charles De gaulle say to this, what would France say? No reference was made in his anachronistic thought that France and the majority of the world were opposed to the war in the first place.

Following the empty fear based rhetoric of Kilmartin, Rep Mrowicki of Putney immediate commented about Kilmartin’s flawed historical reference and then quoted George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The historical reference of the British Empire attempt to control the region shows the failed attempt and that we as a nation should have learned from that. Then he closed with the famed Vermont Republican Senator George Aiken’s remarks about the last faulty war, Vietnam “Declare victory and Get Out.”

Unfortunately due to time constraints I was unable to return to the debate after lunch so I did not witness the final votes and words. I am proud that the Vermont Legislature is overwhelming aware that the war is flawed and that the time is right for all troops to return home. So as debate rages on in Washington, I hope that this message resonates strong with the ears in Congress and the rest of nation.

Robb Kidd

In place of a quote today I will end with a video of Vermont’s lone Congressman Peter Welch voice Vermont’s sentiment in the US House of Representatives. At least somebody in Washington knows the war is wrong, next thing we just need to have is some guts and stop the war.


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