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Ukiah City Council Votes to Oppose War in Syria

From Phil Baldwin

Our City Council on June 5th voted 3 to 2 to send the President and our representatives in Washington a letter of opposition to military intervention in Syria. The letter approved is below. I have been delegated to approach other city councils to take the same position. In addition to the letters approved, I also attach below my original letter and proposed resolution to the Council on May 15. Phil Baldwin, Vice Mayor, City of Ukiah, California.

Ukiah council approves letter opposing U.S. intervention in Syria
Mayor, Thomas disagreed such action was the council's role
Updated: 06/06/2013 08:42:32 AM PDT

The Ukiah City Council Wednesday, after a much shorter discussion than the last , approved sending a letter written by Vice-Mayor Phil Baldwin opposing United States military intervention in Syria.

"The Ukiah City Council opposes United States military intervention in, covert destabilization of, and arms shipments to Syria," Baldwin wrote in his third and shortest letter. "Today, the City of Ukiah experiences inadequate revenue and funding to police our neighborhoods, repair our roads. Reclaim our wastewater, restore our creeks and enhance our historic downtown. After the trillions wasted on devastating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq then bombardment of Libya, this is not a time for a new American war."

Council member Mari Rodin said she preferred the third letter, "because it's best to be short and to the point," adding that she felt it was "perfectly appropriate" for the council to weigh in on certain national and international issues because "silence often equals complicity."

Council member Benj Thomas said he was in "complete agreement (with Baldwin) in that if you want peace, you have to work for justice," but he did not agree that this issue was something the council should be spending its time on.

"I endorse the spirit of the letter and hope it passes, but will vote no' on endorsing it," Thomas said.

Four members of the audience then addressed the council, most in support of the council's letter, but one against the effort.

"This is not the venue to do this," said Tom Fletcher, adding that the city was struggling with financial issues and the council meetings should be "all about the residents of Ukiah. If you want to get into foreign affairs, get into Congress."

The next speakers supported the letter, declaring "if we could rely on members of our Congress to make the right decisions when it comes to war and peace, this would not be necessary," and thanking the council for its leadership.

"This is the venue for discussing this when you're talking about going to war," said Charlie Vaughn, adding that the country has been dealing with wars "the past 13 years that have cost trillions of dollars, (and) I don't think anybody in this room can say that those wars haven't affected our pocket books and our lives."
Baldwin agreed, explaining that all of the city's problems "come down to a lack of funding, and one of the reasons we don't have that funding is because of the lousy, rotten stinking priorities in military policy."
Mayor Doug Crane said again he did not feel a council meeting was the proper "venue for this sort of issue," adding that it took up time which could be spent on other items and "every one of us has the ability to write our representatives every day to tell them what we think."
Baldwin said he's written several letters with no response, and that "there's a slight chance that Rep. Jared Huffman (D San Rafael) will pay attention (to the council's letter) because we did act as a council."
The council then approved sending Baldwin's shortest letter 3-2, with Crane and Thomas casting "no" votes.
Justine Frederiksen can be reached at, on Twitter @JustFrederiksen or at 468-3521.

June 7, 2013

Dear Representative Huffman,
The Ukiah City Council opposes United States military intervention in, covert destabilization of, and arms shipments to Syria. We call on you to encourage a cease fire, an embargo on arms shipments to Syria from every nation, and concerted, sustained negotiation to resolve this conflict according to international law by peaceful means.
We continue to encounter conflicting accounts and analyses about events in Syria as we delve beyond reports in the mainstream media. Most working and retired Americans have had insufficient time to understand or even hear these alternative points of view. This lack of clarity is one reason we encourage you to resist the push for U.S. military intervention in another Mideast nation.
Today, millions of Americans and hundreds of Ukiahans lack health insurance and economic security. Today, the City of Ukiah experiences inadequate revenue and funding to police our neighborhoods, repair our roads, reclaim our wastewater, restore our creeks, and enhance our historic downtown. After the trillions wasted on devastating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq then bombardment of Libya, this is not a time for a new American war.
We want to proudly support our national government’s peaceful and ethical leadership to bring the tragic civil war in Syria to an end. Please lead the opposition to U.S. war in Syria and funding for violent regime change there.
This letter was approved June 5, 2013 by Ukiah City Council on a vote of three yes and two no.

Phil Baldwin, Vice Mayor

My introductory letter and proposed resolution heard by the Council on May 15. The letter above, rather than this resolution, was approved June 5.

May 8, 2013
Fellow Councilmembers,
At a time when Ukiah struggles to fund critical local services and many Ukiahans still lack health insurance and economic security, our national government has spent several trillion dollars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, leaving behind in all three little more than devastation, chaos, and sectarian violence. Today, America’s top officials are on the verge of initiating another war, this one aimed at Syria. Are they kidding us? If this likelihood were not so sad and scary it would be a bad joke. While Ukiah’s voice in American foreign policy may not be heard, the ethics taught to us by our parents, teachers, and every good book tell us we must resist this move to a another American war.
As Lloyd Green notes in an attached article “How many Middle East quagmires does America want? How many can it afford? After our so-called triumphs in Iraq and Libya - and our not-so-triumphant 12-year experience in Afghanistan- the siren song of Syria now beckons. Mr. President, resist that call. We are not wanted there; America has no need to go there.”
Ninety-nine years ago, Senator Robert LaFollette (R-Wisconsin) challenged Woodrow Wilson’s call for war on Germany, but he might have been speaking to President Obama about war on Syria when he asked: “Will the President and the supporters of this war bill submit it to a vote of the people before the declaration of war goes into effect?” Of course not then and not now.
We know some Ukiahans will argue that war is not a local issue and that any discussion about national foreign policy at this level is a “waste of time” and “none of our business.” These critics will imply that those in Washington are the experts and that Ukiahans lack the awareness to weigh in on the threat of a new war. Ironically, many who will lambast us for discussing an issue of war and peace hate big government, yet they so quickly about face and applaud massive new spending for war.
Others who in their youth sought any forum to oppose the war in Vietnam or who marched in the streets when Republican Presidents waged war on Iraq remain unbearably quiet today about U.S. military interventions, destabilizations, and proxy wars abroad. Is it that these, like those who faced The Plague of Camus, have decided “there was nothing to be done about it and we should bow to the inevitable.”
If nothing can be done about endless war, so much for American ideals, so much for American democracy. Let’s pack it up. If war is inevitable, no need to care about its victims and its cost.
Two trillion to date for our Mideast wars since 9/11 - imagine investing that at home or providing a corresponding reduction in our taxes. We simply cannot afford another war. We cannot allow ourselves to be bamboozled by national officials and the mainstream media as we were with Iraq ten years ago and with Libya in 2011.
George Orwell would appreciate that Wall Street funded think tanks, media pundits, and federal government insiders now refer to our regime change wars as “humanitarian” military intervention. Those planning to bombard Syria and remove or kill its current president tell us that national sovereignty is overridden by the “humanitarian” need to defend civilians from evil despots. When the Syrian armed rebellion is financed by American allies and when all mainstream media reports of atrocities come from unsubstantiated claims of anonymous “activists” and the rebels themselves, let’s admit that the maxim “Right To Protect” brings us ever closer to Orwell’s “War is Peace.”
Ukiah can resist the drums of war pounded at us daily by the CNN, FOX, NBC, Washington Post, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. We can demand that our mainstream media begin to provide verification of accusations and sincere public debate including viewpoints questioning the push toward another cruel war counterproductive for all except arms dealers. We can let others know that U.S. allies - despotic monarchies of Qatar and Saudi Arabia - have instigated, financed, and fanned the ever worsening flames of sectarian war in Syria since 2011. We can support international law respecting the sovereignty of nations and that mandate for peaceful, negotiated settlement of crises. We can lead sensibly.
In facing The Plague “Tarrou, Rieux, and their friends might give one answer or another, but its conclusion was always the same, their certitude that a fight must be put up, in this way or that, and there must be no bowing down... There was nothing admirable about this attitude; it was merely logical.”
Let’s put the Ukiah City Council on record opposing U.S. military intervention in Syria. The attached resolution, whose wording you may want to amend, is one way to do that. A letter of war opposition addressed to federal officials and neighboring cities is another option. Our unified voice might gain the attention of other local leaders wondering how to challenge America’s endless wars. And just possibly this City Council’s unified voice will encourage our new Representative in Congress to stand up against a new Mideast war.
Thank you for considering this issue.


Phil Baldwin



WHEREAS, today millions of Americans and hundreds of Ukiahans lack economic security; and

WHEREAS, today the City of Ukiah experiences inadequate revenue and funding to police our neighborhoods, repair our roads, reclaim our wastewater, restore our creeks, enhance our historic downtown; and

WHEREAS, the national government of the United States has squandered more than two trillion of our tax dollars during the last twelve years on Mideast wars of choice against Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya; and

WHEREAS, these military interventions have led to the deaths of thousands of civilians and have left in those distant lands little more than ongoing chaos, devastation and sectarian violence; and

WHEREAS, we, the American people have been pounded by the mainstream media’s Orwellian drums of war, a repetition of unsubstantiated claims generated by opposition forces and anonymous “activists,” never gaining from these dominant news sources verification, sincere public debate, and viewpoints questioning the push toward another counterproductive, cruel war; and

WHEREAS, U.S. allies, primarily the despotic monarchies of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have instigated, financed, and fanned the ever worsening flames of sectarian war in Syria since 2011; and

WHEREAS, international law, the Charter of the United Nations, and common ethics command each nation to respect the sovereignty of others and to resolve problems peaceably; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Ukiah City Council opposes U.S. military intervention in Syria, covert destabilization of Syria, and arms shipments to Syria; and that this resolution be relayed to President Barack Obama;

the Ukiah City Council calls on our Congressional representatives Huffman, Feinstein, and Boxer to oppose the same and alternatively to push for a cease fire, enforced embargo on arms shipments to Syria, and a negotiated resolution of this conflict according to international law.

PASSED AND ADOPTED this 15th day of May, 2013, by the following roll call vote: (Note: the letter above rather than this resolution was approved by our Council on June 5.)


Kristine Lawler, City Clerk



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