California Versus the Iraq War

By Geoffrey Cook, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Sacramento–June 30th–On June 6th the California senate passed a bill (S.B.924) authored by Senate Pro Tem President Don Perata, who also is the representative of the District where I live, calling for a special advisory election in early February to inquire whether the people of this State favor the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. It has passed the upper house, and now is being debated in the CA assembly.

Both houses of the legislature are Democratic, and the bill should have no problem sailing through, but Governor Schwarzenegger is a moderate Republican. With even his Party turning against the War, whether he will veto is a looming question.

If the bill becomes law, it instructs the Secretary of State (here in Sacramento) to relay the results of the special election to President Bush. Although foreign policy is the prerogative of the Executive Branch within the Federal Government at the District of Columbia, the call for American troops to come home by the largest State in the Union (the Golden State represents a sixth of the population in the U.S. and, if it was an independent country, would have the sixth largest economy in the world) will have a strong ring to it –especially with recent Republican revolts in the National congress on this issue.

This conflict has hit home for this state, as the senator pointed out, “The soaring costs of this War mean less for schools, less for health care, less for the things we need here…” not to mention the needs and suffering in Baghdad. At the moment of writing, in Northern California we have just come through the worst of natural regional crises. A massive wildfire has ripped through the Tahoe Basin in the Sierra Mountains last week. The Forest Service is still in the mopping-up phase. On the local news were pictures of the California Highway Patrol trying to keep looters out of the area. That should have been the responsibility of the National Guard who, instead, have been called and sent to Iraq. A similar situation arose in Kansas, whose governor did not have the emergency manpower (by means of the National Guard) in May to handle a surge of tornadoes.

Senator Carole Migden emphasized the legislature’s struggle to find the funds for a single payer health care system, “Americans…are fed up …by the War…”

Perata believes that the bill helps combat the cynicism we foster over our involvement…against Iraq.

In the paraphrased words of the proposed Bill SB 924, “The people of California, in support of the men and women serving in the Armed Forces of the United States, urge President Bush to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq and immediately begin the safe and orderly withdrawal of United States Forces; and further urge President Bush and the United States Congress to provide necessary diplomatic and non-military assistance to promote peace and stability in Iraq and the Middle East.”

The Bill was successfully voted by a majority in the Senate, and passed onto the Lower House (the Assembly) on June 4th. On the 27th, the Iraq War: Advisory Election was ratified by the Assembly Committee for Elections and Redistricting with a suggestion for passage, and was resent, — although it was initially agreed to there with a recommendation for enactment — to the Committee of Veterans Affairs. If approved, it will go onto the Assembly floor, and, if approved, then to the Governor.

This bill should have an interest for all American Muslims because we are getting nauseous of the War Against Islam.

I would suggest all California Muslims and others to write to their Assemblypersons to pass this Bill, and, if accepted, to the Governor to sign this important legislation!


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