City Council to hold forum on resolution against Iraq war

Retired Defense analyst among motion's supporters

November 27, 2002|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

Peter D. Molan is no dreamy peacenik.

He not only supported the bombing of Afghanistan last year and the Persian Gulf war of 1991, he helped the Pentagon execute these attacks as an intelligence analyst for the Department of Defense.

But now Molan, who recently retired and lives in Baltimore, is strongly opposed to the war that President Bush is threatening against Iraq.

Molan believes Bush is "delusional" about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and argues that invading Iraq will unleash worse violence in the Middle East and undermine the Pentagon's efforts to hunt down the real enemy - Osama bin Laden.

This evening, Molan is scheduled to air his views in what many might consider an odd venue: Baltimore's City Hall.

The City Council is holding a public forum on the possible war at 5 p.m. in a fourth-floor hearing room, as it considers a resolution opposing the war.

While some deride the City Council - which was designed to debate such issues as local sewer and water rates - as a silly place to address U.S. foreign policy, Molan and other supporters of the resolution say that a growing number of local governments see themselves as a fitting podium from which voters should voice their opinions about the war.

The City Council in Washington approved Nov. 7 a resolution opposing unilateral U.S. military action in Iraq, after similar votes in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, Calif.; Ithaca, N.Y.; Seattle; Kalamazoo, Mich.; and several other, mostly liberal cities around the country.

Suburban and more conservative local governments, such as those in Howard, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, have not taken up such antiwar resolutions.

Molan, 61, who holds a doctorate in Middle Eastern studies from the University of California, Berkeley, believes Baltimore City government should be worried about war with Iraq because it would drain federal resources needed for local education and crime fighting, among other issues.

Molan said he will speak out tonight in City Hall because he has tried every other means of expressing his opposition to the war. He has written letters to the president and congressional representatives and newspapers. And he joined in a peaceful protest on the anniversary of Sept. 11.

"What the U.S. is proposing to do in Iraq now is what Saddam did in 1990 - completely upsetting the political structure that has been in place in the Middle East since World War II," said Molan, an analyst and translator for the Department of Defense from 1984 until last year.

"We could completely destabilize the whole Middle East," said Molan. "Does the administration, with its oil connections, really hope to take control of Middle Eastern oil? It does seem that that could be a motivation here."

City Councilman Kwame Osayaba Abayomi, who proposed the resolution, said tonight's meeting will help collect public opinion before a possible vote on the antiwar resolution by the full council Dec. 9.

The resolution opposes "the United States' continued and threatened violation ... of international law by the unilateral, preemptive military action against the nation of Iraq."

This would not be the first time the council has waded into international affairs.

The council in past years has passed resolutions demanding the right of self determination for the Lithuanian people, condemning slavery in Mauritania, criticizing the repression of the Ahmadiyya religious movement by the Pakistani government, and calling for the end of violence in Northern Ireland and apartheid in South Africa.

Louis Cantori, a professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said it is remarkable that a former Department of Defense analyst with Molan's credentials would be among those testifying in a local government chambers about the possible war.

"He's no lightweight," said Cantori. "He's spent his whole career as a senior intelligence analyst for the U.S. government."

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