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US Mayors to Obama: Bring War Money Home! Ban the Bomb!

ByGar Smith
Wednesday June 22, 2011 - 12:30:00 PM

'That we would build bridges in Baghdad and Kandahar and not Baltimore and Kansas City, absolutely boggles the mind.'
-- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

BALTIMORE (At its annual meeting in Baltimore on June 20, 2011, the US Conference of Mayors passed two historic resolutions. One called on Washington to end of our current wars to "bring … war dollars home to meet vital human needs." The other, introduced by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan on behalf of Mayors for Peace, called for nuclear disarmament, which would free billions of dollars to address unemployment in America’s cities. 

The last time the USCM issued an “anti-war” proclamation was during the height of the Vietnam War. The resolution came at a critical time — with President Obama preparing to announce the scale and pace of his promised withdrawal from Afghanistan, the House of Representatives considering amendments to block funding for the Libya War, and Dennis Kucinich and nine other congress members filing suit against the White House in an attempt to challenge to America’s costly military adventures. 

It was in 1971, that the conference passed a resolution demanding an end to the war in Vietnam. The resolution was introduced by San Leandro Jack Maltester. Although the resolution was vigorously opposed by Richard Nixon and many USCM delegates, it ultimately passed with the backing of the mayors of Chicago and New York. The new anti-war resolution, submitted by mayor Kitty Piercy of Eugene, Oregon, calls for redirecting $126 billion in military spending to domestic needs. "Our city has had to cut $20 million from our budget in the last three years," Piercy explained. "Our children and families long for, and call for, a real investment in the future of America.” 

The USCM may prove the Pentagon’s biggest nemesis. In addition to calling for an end to US wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, the USCM (whose mayors represent cities with populations over 30,000) also passed a resolution (sponsored by Mayors for Peace) that instructs President Obama to join leaders of the other nuclear weapon states to implement the United Nations Secretary-General's 5-point plan to negotiate the elimination of nuclear weapons, by the year 2020. The resolution further calls on Congress to terminate funding for modernization of the Pentagon’s nuclear weapons complex and nuclear weapons systems. (Simply cutting nuclear weapons spending to pre-Cold War Levels, would free billions of dollars that could be redirected to meet the urgent needs of cities.) 

The nuclear disarmament resolution was introduced in the final plenary by International Affairs Committee Chair, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. Unlike the “Bring Our War Dollars Home” the Mayors for Peace resolution was adopted without debate. While the anti-war resolution was subject to vote only after surviving a contentious struggle to defeat it, the nuclear weapons resolution passed unanimously. 

“No one spoke against the resolution or actually voted against it,” said Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation and the North American Coordinator of Mayors for Peace but the antinuclear resolution now puts the mayors squarely in opposition with President Obama, "who has maintained, and even modernized, nuclear weaponry." Cabasso praised Oakland Mayor Mayor Jean Quan, a member of Mayors for Peace, who noted at the beginning of the session that “the committee has a long history of taking up the issue of nuclear disarmament.” 

The Mayors for Peace resolution was boosted by the appearance of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who addressed the Baltimore audience and praised Mayors for Peace, which had gathered more than a million signatures for its “Cities Are Not Targets” campaign. Ban observed that "the road to peace and progress runs through the worlds cities and towns." His words were greeted with a standing ovation. 

Cabasso told The Planet about a chance encounter in Baltimore. “On Saturday, the Mayor of Kabul Afghanistan joined Mayors for Peace. He told me that his city had been 90% destroyed by war, like Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” Cabasso said this story serves to reinforce the importance of both resolutions: We need to not only end these wars but to re-channel the money currently devoted to military and nuclear weapons spending into reconstruction and social repair. 

Mayors for Peace is more than a national organization (more than 175 US mayors currently are enrolled). It currently boasts more than 4,700 members in 150 countries and hopes to recruit 5,000 member cities by the August 6th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima. “At that point,” the organization states, “the new Mayor of Hiroshima, will be able to announce that Mayors for Peace represents the wishes of more than one billion people around the world.” 

Here is the resolution, as adopted, with the list of co-sponsors. 


WHEREAS, more than two decades after the end of the Cold War, nearly 23,000 nuclear weapons, over 95% of them in the arsenals of the United States and Russia, continue to pose an intolerable threat to cities and people everywhere;

WHEREAS, recent studies have shown that a nuclear war involving no more than 100 Hiroshima-sized bombs -- about 0.3% of the global nuclear arsenal -- could have catastrophic, long-lasting effects on the global climate leading to a drop in average surface temperatures, reduction of the ozone layer, a shortened agricultural growing season resulting in a global famine of unprecedented proportions;

WHEREAS, the 2010 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review did not lead to substantial changes in the U.S. nuclear force structure, only marginally reduced the role of nuclear weapons in national security policy, explicitly rejected reducing the high-alert status of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and Submarine Launch Ballistic Missiles, and retained the capability to deploy U.S. nuclear weapons on tactical fighter-bombers and heavy bombers, including at NATO bases in Europe, while proceeding with a modification of the bombs carried on those planes;

WHEREAS, a plan submitted to Congress by President Barack Obama projects investments of well over $185 billion by 2020 to maintain and modernize U.S. nuclear weapons systems, including construction of three new nuclear warhead production facilities and an array of new delivery systems;

WHEREAS, although the U.S. stockpile contains one-fifth as many warheads as it used to, the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget request is the largest ever for maintenance and modernization of nuclear warheads, and after accounting for inflation, the $7.63 billion request is 21 percent more than President Ronald Reagan’s largest nuclear weapons budget;

WHEREAS, reflecting President Obama’s commitment to modernize all three legs of the strategic triad of nuclear weapons delivery systems, the FY 2012 budget request also includes $197 million for research and development on a new Air Force long-range nuclear bomber, $2.6 million to study a future Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, and $1.07 billion to develop a new replacement ballistic missile submarine slated to be in operation through 2080, all of which will lead to far greater expenditures if production follows;

WHEREAS, with the economic downturn forcing mayors and cities to make deep cuts in critical public services, and with more than 100 metropolitan areas projected to have double-digit unemployment by the end of this year, the budget deal worked out between the Administration and Congress contains a 16.2 percent reduction in Community Development Block Grant formula funding -- a $647 million cut for the current year, eliminates Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, and includes huge reductions to other domestic programs of importance to mayors and cities, the size of which have not been seen in recent times;

WHEREAS, Mayors for Peace membership has grown to over 4,700 cities in 150 countries and regions, including half of the world’s capital cities, with more than 170 U.S. members;

WHEREAS, the United States Conference of Mayors unanimously adopted resolutions in 2004, 2006 and each year since, expressing its strong support for Mayors for Peace, its demand for negotiations for the global elimination of nuclear weapons by 2020, and its Cities Are Not Targets campaign;

WHEREAS, Mayors for Peace has been endorsed by national mayoral associations in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa;

WHEREAS, the final document of the 3rd Congress of United Cities and Local Governments, adopted in Mexico City November 20, 2010 expresses “our support for the call of the Mayors for Peace Campaign for a world free of nuclear weapons by 2020 through a new international Convention”;

WHEREAS, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in Hiroshima for the 65th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing on August 6, 2010 expressed his strong support for the Mayors for Peace 2020 Vision Campaign for the global abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020, declaring, “The 2020 vision is a perfect vision”; and the United Nations, on March 24, 2011 recognized the importance of Mayors for Peace by inaugurating a permanent installation at its New York headquarters exhibiting more than 1 million signatures on the Mayors for Peace Cities Are Not Targets petition;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors reaffirms its call on President Obama to work with the leaders of the other nuclear weapon states to implement the United Nations Secretary-General’s Five Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament forthwith, so that a Nuclear Weapons Convention or a related framework of mutually reinforcing legal instruments can be agreed upon and implemented by the year 2020, as urged by Mayors for Peace; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on the U.S. Congress to terminate funding for modernization of the nuclear weapons complex and nuclear weapons systems, to slash spending on nuclear weapons programs well below Cold War levels, and to redirect those funds to meet the urgent needs of cities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors, in its contacts with national associations of local authorities of the other nuclear weapon states, calls upon them to also press their governments to enter into negotiations for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free world and to sharply curtail expenditures on nuclear arms; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors expresses its continuing support for Mayors for Peace, pledges to assist in recruiting new U.S. members in order to help reach the goal of 5,000 member cities by the August 6, 2011 Hiroshima anniversary, at which time Mayors for Peace will represent one billion people; and, as since 2005, supports USCM representation at the international Mayors for Peace 2020 Vision Campaign Executive Committee and General Meetings later this year; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors agrees to take up this matter at its 80th Annual Meeting in June 2012, and that mayors shall remain engaged in this matter until our cities and citizens, and cities and citizens throughout the world, are no longer under the threat of nuclear annihilation and catastrophic climate change.

Submitted by:

The Honorable Donald L. Plusquellic
Mayor of Akron

The Honorable Matthew T. Ryan
Mayor of Binghamton

The Honorable Susan M. Osborne
Mayor of Boulder

The Honorable Rodger Holm
Mayor of Clinton

The Honorable Franklin T. Cownie
Mayor of Des Moines

The Honorable Kitty Piercy
Mayor of Eugene

The Honorable Joy Cooper
Mayor of Hallandale Beach

The Honorable Paul Soglin
Mayor of Madison

The Honorable Andre Pierre
Mayor of North Miami

The Honorable Frank C. Ortis
Mayor of Pembroke Pines

The Honorable Jennifer Hosterman
Mayor of Pleasanton

The Honorable Gayle McLaughlin
Mayor of Richmond

The Honorable Ardell Brede
Mayor of Rochester

The Honorable Stephen Cassidy
Mayor of San Leandro

The Honorable Helene Schneider
Mayor of Santa Barbara

The Honorable Laurel L. Prussing
Mayor of Urbana

The Honorable John Duran
Mayor of West Hollywood

The Honorable James Baker
Mayor of Wilmington

The Honorable Joseph C. O’Brien
Mayor of Worcester