County Council follows Inouye’s lead on war

Peace efforts should be exhausted to head off a U.S.-led war to disarm Iraq of biological and chemical weapons, say some Kaua’i County Council members.

But if peace fails, Kauaians, as should all Americans, should stand behind 250,000 American troops in the Middle East who may be called soon upon to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, said vice chair Jimmy Tokioka and councilmembers Joe Munechika and Daryl Kaneshiro.

President Bush has issued an ultimatum for Hussein and his family to flee Iraq by 8 p.m. EST on Wednesday or face war.

Tokioka, Munechika and Kaneshiro joined a stand taken by U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, who said he wanted to send a unified message to American troops in the Middle East if war is inevitable.

Inouye said if war comes, Hawai’i’s congressional team should stand behind the American military.

The other four members of the Kaua’i County Council were not immediately available to comment on the possibly of a U.S-led war against Iraq. They included council chairman Kaipo Asing and councilmembers Mel Rapozo, JoAnn Yukimura and Jay Furfaro.

If war is in the cards, Tokioka said American troops put in harm’s way deserve public support.

“I hope that we have tried to work out every possibility for peace, but in the event the powers that be decide that peace is not an option, the resolution (passed by the council recently) supports the men and women who are fighting for our country,” Tokioka said.

Support, as well, should go to the families of the troops, Tokioka said.

The council resolution, introduced by Tokioka, opposed a preemptive strike by American-led forces against Iraq unless that country was shown to have weapons of mass destruction that could pose an imminent threat to America.

The resolution also asked the Bush administration and Hawai’i’s congressional team to work with the United Nations to encourage Iraq to comply with a UN resolution calling for peaceful armament.

Some Kaua’i residents praised the council for showing strength in proposing the measure, which represents the wish of the county legislative body but carries no legal weight.

Other residents decried the resolution, saying the council had no business promoting policy on an international issue, that the council’s approval of the resolution didn’t’ represent their viewpoint and that the council should pass legislation on matters that relate directly to Kaua’i.

Kaneshiro said the resolution expressed his most current viewpoint on the brewing war in Iraq.

Diplomatic efforts for a peaceful resolution should be exhaustive, but failing that, military action may be the only real recourse, Kaneshiro said.

“We should work out all diplomatic efforts, as much as we can…Hopefully (we can) come to a peaceful solution. But it seems like that is not gong to happen,” Kaneshiro said.

Hussein has rejected Bush’s ultimatum for him and his family to leave Iraq.

In the event war, it is incumbent on Americans to support the U.S. military, Kaneshiro said.

“We should support our troops, that is definite,” Kaneshiro said. “Personally, (if warfare ensues), I think it will be a swift war (because of the massive outlay of weaponry poised against Iraq)”

But war is not necessarily inevitable, Kaneshiro said, adding “if Hussein decides in the 11th hour to leave,” the world will be spared a war that will have far-reaching ramifications.

“We will hope that no war will occur. We all do, till the last minute,” Kaneshiro said. “Nobody wants war. War is created by man itself, No one else.”

If war comes and buffets Hawai’i, Kaua’i will weather the impact, as Kauaians had done during “two hurricanes (Hurricane Iwa in 1982 and Hurricane ‘Iniki in 1992) and 9-1-1,” Kaneshiro said.

Kaneshiro likened the physical onslaught of ‘Iwa and ‘Iniki to “a nuclear bomb on our island,” but Kauaians dug themselves out and rebuilt the island after the two natural disasters.

“Kaua’i has always been a strong community, and I think that is so because we have been able to get through tough times,” Kaneshiro said.

If war comes and throttles the island’s main industry and job-generator, tourism, Kaneshiro said he is optimistic Kauaians will find a way to “put aide their differences and work together.”

Munechika, meanwhile, said that the call for peace has credibility, but that it “is unfortunate we couldn’t get approval of the Security Council of the United Nations and other allies.”

If efforts for peace run into a brick wall and war is coming, the only alternative is for Americans to “support the president,” Munechika said.

“He is the commander in chief. When he says go, we all should unite, as Americans,” Munechika said.

Munechika, a Viet Nam veteran, said he doesn’t want to see the country divided in the way it was during that war. The split left troops demoralized and led to defeat in the battlefield, he said.

“I hope that our country can unite and that we can support our president and get this over with,” Munechika said.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net

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