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Councilmember Armstrong joins anti-war campaign

Polly Armstrong
Thursday October 03, 2002

To the Editor: 

I have agreed to co-sponsor with Councilmember Miriam Hawley an item on the Berkeley City Council agenda for next Tuesday night asking our government to pursue a United Nations solution to the Iraq weapons issue. For eight years I have stood firmly against our City Council weighing in on international/foreign policy issues. It has always seemed to me that we had plenty of local problems to deal with and that my constituents did not elect me to represent them on international questions. 

Today the situation appears to me to be different. Our country is struggling with how to deal with a rogue country that may be a threat to us and to the world. There are those who urge immediate confrontation because we are the strongest country in the world and so we can and should act. As I travel about my district and the city I hear only people who are hoping for a different way of proceeding. Every voice I hear urges working through the UN, with other countries, to pressure Iraq to open its doors and its soul to weapons reduction and a move toward peace. Everyone to whom I speak eventually says, “What's the hurry?” We need to urge our government to slow down its push to war. Because we are the strongest country it is incumbent upon us also to be the most responsible ... setting an example of the civil and humane way for countries to behave. 

I believe that the people of Berkeley love America and that they are patriots to the core. They take seriously the role they play as the city that questions authority. Usually I disagree with the style and rhetoric that is used. Often we are reactive rather than thoughtful and I am embarrassed by what seems a childish approach. Nonetheless, I am always aware of how valuable it is for there to be a city that questions. I fear that we may have lost much of our gravitas in our rush to be the first and most outrageous voice on world issues in the last decades, but today I think our country needs our voice more than ever. I think it needs our voice and the voices of cities all across America to say slow down, walk softly. Let us explore every means possible to avoid war. The UN is our best hope for a measured outcome to this crisis. We must use it with patience. 

There is plenty of time for war and hopefully plenty of time for peace. 


Polly Armstrong 

Berkeley City Council