State Senators get into
heated debate over Iraq

A resolution urges the president
to attack only with U.N. support

By Bruce Dunford
Associated Press

Partisan debate erupted on the state Senate floor yesterday over a resolution offered by 17 Democrats urging President Bush to refrain from attacking Iraq without the support of the United Nations.

Sen. Carol Fukunaga (D, Lower Makiki-Punchbowl) said there needs to be a speedy hearing on Senate Concurrent Resolution 21 introduced Tuesday to discuss the pros and cons of going to war with Iraq and its potential impacts on Hawaii.

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Senate Minority Leader Fred Hemmings (R, Lanikai-Waimanalo), who earlier called the Democrats' resolution "foolish," told his colleagues: "Our nation is at war. More people died in 9/11 than died at Pearl Harbor.

"Americans have a history of standing tall against tyranny throughout the world," he said.

Instead of passing resolutions and "giving the benefit of the doubt to Saddam Hussein," Hawaii lawmakers "should take a strong stand against a satanical man who has murdered his own people ... against a man who has been proven by our intelligence to have supported and aided and abetted an enemy who struck down the twin towers on 9/11," Hemmings said.

But Sen. J. Kalani English (D, East Maui-Lanai-Molokai), who initiated the resolution, noted an anti-war demonstration at Maui Community College last weekend that he said attracted more than 1,000 people "who expressed their desire for peace and their hope that we settle our differences without bloodshed."

Sen. Sam Slom (R, Diamond Head-Hawaii Kai) said, "War is a terrible thing, but there's one thing worse than war, and that's enslavement and death."

He added that Hawaii lawmakers should be supporting the American troops who are already on the front line and those who will join them.

Sen. Gary Hooser (D, Kauai-Niihau) said he was "offended by the implication that someone who speaks for peace is against our men and women in uniform."

"I stand here today to add my voice, to stand tall with those people who speak for peace," he said.

The Senate's only combat veteran is Sen. Cal Kawamoto (D, Waipahu), who flew Air Force Phantom jets on bombing missions over Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam. He declined to sign the resolution.

Hawaii's lawmakers do not have the intelligence information available to the Bush administration in making its decisions on Iraq, he said.

"Think about our men and women who go out there in harm's way, sacrificing their lives -- not their words, but their lives. Think about that before we begin to take this up," Kawamoto said.

Maine's House and Senate and Hawaii's House are the highest-ranking elected bodies in the United States to register opposition to a possible war, though some members of Congress have opposed military action.

On Feb. 4 the Democratic-controlled House approved on a 34-14 party-line vote a resolution condemning unilateral action by the United States in disarming Iraq and North Korea.

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