February 17, 2003 - Fairfield Weekly: Chris Shays, The War Hawk

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Chris Shays, The War Hawk

Chris Shays, The War Hawk

Chris Shays, The War Hawk

by Robert Nixon - February 27, 2003
Congressman Chris Shays was prepared to take the heat for his hawkish views on Iraq. He had booked the 800-seat auditorium at Westport's Bedford Middle School. Not only were local cops on standby but Shays, a true believer in the war on terrorism, had brought along his wife, mother and daughter for support.

The precautions were not needed. The crowd, dominated by those opposed to war, only filled half the room. Shays, who staked out a hard-line position because of Iraq's drive for nuclear weapons, went to the heart of the local peace community to hear their objections, and to make the case that containment of Saddam Hussein has failed.

Early on, Shays was upstaged by Westport First Selectwomen Diane Farrell who praised the Bridgeport congressman on homeland security but spoke for many residents when she urged for more time for diplomacy. "I am hopeful that there will be more of an effort to get our allies on board and not go it alone," said Farrell, a Democrat. "I am hopeful that the issue will be brought back to the United Nations and that we make up with our allies."

Shays spent the first half-hour listening to the mostly anti-war opinions of local residents who strongly oppose a preemptive war against Iraq. More than half the audience raised their hands saying they opposed the current push for war.

Jennifer Flasko of Fairfield, whose husband survived the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, said "killing people in Iraq has nothing to do with terrorism."

The most scathing blast at Shays came from activist Rozanne Gates, who organized a major anti-war rally last fall in Westport and signed up hundreds of people for the peace train to the Feb. 15 protest outside the United Nations.

"You ask for our opinion but you don't listen to us," Gates remonstrated Shays, noting that 70 percent of people replying to a survey on Shays' own website opposed military action against Iraq.

There were some voices for war. A group of Kurdish men sat in the front and spoke passionately of the need to get rid of Saddam Hussein. There were also some conservatives who decried "appeasement."

"I support you on Iraq," declared Joe Basil of Bridgeport. "I support President Bush and the troops. Is this a debate over whether to go war or what we think about President Bush? I am in complete support of President Bush."

Shays, who served in the Peace Corp instead of Vietnam, noted that terrorism and the Sept. 11 attacks changed American military doctrine. The days of containment and mutually assured destruction are over and the policy is now "proactive" and "preemptive."

The moderate Republican also surprised many when he insisted that there was little difference between Saddam's Iraq and Al-Qaeda. Shays compared them to the axis powers of Japan and German during World War II. "We went to war with two like-minded folks."

Shays also proclaimed this in not a preemptive attack on Iraq. "Iraq is unfinished business," he stated. "We had an agreement [on disarmament]. I believe he is very close to getting nuclear weapons. We can not let Saddam Hussein get nuclear weapons because of what he has done with chemical weapons. The problem with containment is it's what we've had for 12 years."

Bill Wrenn, a Norwalk Common Councilor who's the sponsor of a local anti-war resolution, says a war would take away money from local services including education funding.

"Do we live in a republic or an empire?" wondered Wrenn, a Democrat. "We cannot put out every fire in the world. As long as we are containing a dangerous situation, it would be foolish to engage in a preemptive war with our allies opposed."

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Story Source: Fairfield Weekly

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Fiji; Congress; Politics; Iraq



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