Lawmakers send message to Bush: work with UN

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(Host ) A group of 87 lawmakers have signed a letter to President Bush urging the president to seek U.N. approval before taking any military action against Iraq. The group says their letter is not an anti-war message, but rather reflects the need for this country to exhaust of all its non-military options before committing troops to Iraq.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Nearly half of all House and Senate members signed the letter which concludes with the belief that the Bush administration has not yet made the case that Iraq “poses an immediate threat to our nation that justifies risking the lives of brave men and women.”

Burlington Representative John Tracy, who is a Vietnam veteran, said the group felt it was very important to speak out on this issue at this time:

(Tracy) “What we are asking is for the administration to take a deep breath work through the United Nations, work with our allies. And before we put our young people in harm’s way, that we make sure that we’ve done everything we can. War is something you do when everything else fails.”

(Kinzel) The letter was signed by Democrats, Republicans, Progressives and Independents. Political observers were very surprised to see the name of Caledonia Senator Julius Canns on the list. Canns has been a champion of veterans’ rights and has led the effort to pass a constitutional amendment banning flag burning. Canns, who is a veteran of World War II, bristled at the notion that lawmakers who signed the letter were being disloyal to their country:

(Canns) “And my problem with attacking Iraq is, I can’t justify overthrowing a leader that was elected by their own people, because it’s a two-edged sword. There’s no reason why they couldn’t do the same to us ¿ it would be justified if we’d done that. I don’t know that they blew the twin towers down. I thought that was another person in Afghanistan we’re supposed to be chasing. Where do we lose our focus? We have a problem with Korea. Who are we going to attack? The world? That’s why I have a problem and I grant you, I’m loyal to this country. But I don’t want to attack Iraq without the entire world saying, ‘Yes, this is the time. They are a danger to the world.’ Because I think we’re a danger to the world, the way we’re acting.”

(Kinzel) The lawmakers who signed the letter said they didn’t introduce a resolution on this issue because they want the Legislature to focus on concerns that directly affect the state.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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