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Los Angeles Joins Other US Cities in Passing Anti-war Resolution - 2003-02-22

Los Angeles has become the latest U.S. city to oppose war in Iraq without the backing of the United Nations. Anti-war sympathizers responded to arguments that the city should focus first on its own problems.

Earlier in the week, the measure fell one vote short of the eight needed for approval. But anti-war protesters forged a compromise that also addresses local issues. The compromise measure passed Friday by a vote of 9-4.

Los Angeles is the second largest U.S. city, after New York, and it joins Chicago, Philadelphia and scores of other cities in opposing war in Iraq without U.N. backing. New York City is expected to deal with the issue soon.

U.S. officials say the president views war as a last resort, to be taken if U.N. arms inspections fail to remove Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Those opposing the anti-war measure say Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is a danger that needs to be dealt with. They also say foreign policy is a federal prerogative, and that Los Angeles has other pressing issues.

For some city officials, the second objection was met in a separate resolution that says Los Angeles needs more federal help in the war on terrorism.

"Regardless of what the Bush administration decides to do, regardless of whether or not there is a war in the Persian Gulf, there will be more terrorist attacks, and there needs to be so much more done to protect this city," said Jack Weiss, a city councilman. However, he opposed the anti-war resolution, which he called "meaningless."

Other cities have considered and rejected similar measures. Officials in Hoboken, New Jersey, removed an anti-war resolution from their agenda this week, saying it is not an appropriate issue for a municipal council. Jersey City, New Jersey, passed a similar resolution but later revoked it following protests from veterans and others.

The White House, meanwhile, is urging the international community to take a tough stand on Iraq. A senior administration official says a Security Council resolution should be offered next week declaring Iraq in material breach of demands that it turn over its weapons of mass destruction.