In Vermont, 48 town meetings voted last night to condemn the war in Iraq and to call on political leaders to bring home the state’s National Guard. We speak with an organizer with the Iraq Resolution Campaign that coordinated the town meetings. [includes rush transcript]
In Vermont, 48 town meetings voted last night to condemn the war in Iraq and to call on political leaders to bring home the state’s National Guard.
Vermont has lost more soldiers per capita than any state, and has the second highest mobilization rate for its National Guard and reservists.
Ben Scotch, retired attorney in Vermont and organizer of the Iraq Resolution Campaign. The resolution was approved last night by 48 town meetings across Vermont.
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AMY GOODMAN: Ben Scotch, you helped organize this resolution. Talk about how it all began.
BEN SCOTCH: Amy, it all began with a rally against the war shortly after the election, and Montpelier and the rest of Vermont have seen a good number of rallies, and they’re very spirited, but the organizers of the rally got together after and they said, what more can we do? We need to rally, but we also need to speak, and it became clear that the right place to speak was town meetings. That’s been a tradition well over 200 years here in Vermont. We got busy collectively as a team. We drafted a resolution. We redrafted it, and it went through 19 different versions. We then circulated it to the towns. I’m happy to say, Amy, that by midnight, we had 48 and not 38 towns, if you don’t mind a very minor correction. We had 48 towns adopting resolutions that were very close to each other in text. There were some variations. We had three towns that voted it down, and just three towns that tabled it. We think that’s really an overwhelming signal to the nation.
AMY GOODMAN: And on this issue of calling the Vermont National Guard home, who suffered the worst casualties in any state per capita, what exactly are you calling for in this resolution?
BEN SCOTCH: Well, let me really summarize the resolution and hit its main points. I think I can really — I think I can reduce that to just four points. The resolutions, every single one, and it got up to 56, more than 52, every single resolution begins with a plea to support and respect the troops. We need these people here. They’re first responders, they’re family, they’re friends, they’re workers down the street. They make up the fabric of society in Vermont. They’re an important part of that fabric. So, we began with that, and Amy, it wasn’t just lip service, as some have suggested. The rest of the resolution also supports members of the Guard. Let me just give you the high points of what we asked for. We asked for our legislature to assess the impact of the deployment, not just on readiness, but on our communities, on our families. We’re asking the delegation, Senator Leahy, Senator Jeffords, Congressman Sanders, to help restore a reasonable balance between states and the federal government, not in the case of every war, only in what we call “wars of choice.” We know that if this country is attacked, if there’s an emergency, if there’s an insurrection under the Constitution, there is no question that Guard members have signed up to serve, and that they would serve, and they would serve with enthusiasm and a sense of duty. Wars of choice are a whole different phenomenon. They’re relatively new. We have no national policy governing the use of these wars. It’s a big omission.
AMY GOODMAN: Ben Scotch, on that point, I want to thank you very much for joining us. Ben Scotch is one of the people who organized the Vermont Resolution Campaign, now learning that 48 of the 50 town hall — town meetings in Vermont yesterday voted to condemn the Iraq war, beginning to call for the Vermont National Guard to be brought home.