Letter in 12-29-07 Delaware County Daily Times, Opinion Section: Page 15
by Terry Rumsey, Chairperson, Delaware County Wage Peace & Justice
Delaware County Wage Peace & Justice has decided to organize a public action to protest U.S. Rep. Joe Sestakâ€™s decision to vote for funds tocontinue the war in Iraq without a mandate that those funds be used for the safe and immediate withdrawal of our soldiers from that war-scarred nation. On Jan. 5, 2008, we plan to march to Sestakâ€™s office and demand that he stop payment on the check for George Bushâ€™s tragic misadventure in Iraq.
We made this decision only after considerable thought and soul-searching at general membership meetings and within our steering committee. There is also a history that has led us to calling for a protest action at this time.
Back in the spring of 2007, Joe Sestak, D-7 of Edgmont, was one of 85 Democrats to join with 194 Republicans who voted to give President Bush $94.5 billion to continue the war in Iraq without establishing a deadline for withdrawing our soldiers. Joe defended his vote on the grounds that a challenge to Bush would create a logjam that halted the flow of dollars to Iraq, and thus endanger the troops in the field. He asked the peace movement to support his efforts to forge a bipartisan strategy for ending the war.
We were disappointed with Joeâ€™s vote â€“ and we expressed that disappointment to him in private dialogue, at town meetings, and through letters to the editor. We did not, however, organize public protests at that time. We waited to see if Joe and the congressional Democrats could forge another effective strategy for ending the war.
Nine months passed. More U.S. troops were sent to Iraq, more tax dollars were wasted, and the U.S. military occupation of Iraq became more entrenched. Incredibly, Bush came back to Congress and demanded another $190 billion for the war.
Once again, we reached out to Congressman Sestak and implored him in a letter to vote to deny George Bush the money to continue the disastrous military policy in Iraq.
On Dec. 10, 2007, Joe Sestak called me, and we discussed the issue of Iraq war funding. Joe said he was appreciative of Delaware County Wage Peace & Justiceâ€™s professionalism and ethics. He also made it clear he was planning to vote for new funds requested by President Bush for the war in Iraq.
In truth, Joeâ€™s position on this matter has been consistent â€“ he has always said he supports a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq but that he will never vote to cut funding while troops remain in the field. I assured Joe we appreciated his openness, willingness to talk, and honesty, but that our group was going to protest his decision.
We both agreed to keep the lines of communication open.
Delaware County Wage Peace & Justice recognizes that Congressman Joe Sestak has been accessible, articulate and forthcoming. On the whole, we have agreed with his votes and positions on the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq. However, we believe that Joe Sestak must take responsibility for the continuation of the war when he votes to give Bush more of our tax dollars to sustain the U.S. military occupation.
More than 800 U.S. soldiers have died and thousands more have been wounded in Iraq since Joe Sestak and the Democratic majority took office in January 2007. We donâ€™t understand how Joe can vote for Iraq war funding in the name of safety for our troops when that money fuels the war and will inevitably lead to more deaths and injuries.
Delaware County Wage Peace and Justice cannot support funding one more dollar for this debacle except to provide funds for the safe and immediate withdrawal of our soldiers from Iraq.
Delaware County Wage Peace & Justice is nonpartisan. It is not our mission to support or oppose political candidates. Our mission is to work for U.S. policies that promote lasting peace and justice in our nation and around the world. Public opinion polls consistently tell us that 60 percent or more of our neighbors agree with our stance calling for an immediate end to the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq. This is Bushâ€™s war â€“ not Americaâ€™s war. This does not have to be Joe Sestakâ€™s war.
For the sake of the nation, for the safety of the troops, for the true sovereignty of the Iraqi people, we must demand that Congressman Joe Sestak change his policy on Iraq. Itâ€™s time to stop payment on a senseless war that has gone on far too long.
Chairperson, Delaware County Wage Peace & Justice