States begin criticizing Iraq policy, too
The Vermont legislature wants Congress to bring American troops home from Iraq. The Iowa Senate is on record against President Bush's plan to send more troops into combat there. Democratic legislators in Maine sent a letter to their congressional delegation asking them to vote against any kind of escalation of the war. Even the Boston City Council weighed in to ask for a withdrawal of troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan.
These are among some two dozen resolutions criticizing the Iraq war and the president's strategy for a troop "surge." Although state and local pronouncements on foreign policy carry little weight – even less than the nonbinding resolution that cleared the US House of Representatives Friday – they illustrate the war's unpopularity among elected officials at all levels. They also show how activists are using the Internet to tap that discontent.
The current push at the state level was spurred largely by a mid-January initiative by liberal advocacy groups, including the Progressive States Network and MoveOn.org, with support from US Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts. Launched as Congress wrangled over whether to debate Mr. Bush's new Iraq strategy, the online campaign urged war critics to bombard their local as well as national elected representatives with calls for action.
"The Internet is making the 50-state campaigns easier and cheaper," says Christopher Cooper, a political scientist at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C. "This has led to an increasing nationalization of state politics."
More than 20 states are working on resolutions or letters that oppose the "surge" plan or ask for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.