Mayor Norris explains Iran signature
He cites New Yorker reporting over the weekend that Congress has already authorized $400 million in covert operations to lay the groundwork for an invasion. "Some say this [petition] is premature," says Norris. "I wonder if we're too late."
It's not the first time City Councilors– or even Norris– have weighed in on international affairs. In March, Council supported Tibetan independence and flew its national flag, earning the ire of China. Councilors also opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
"This was not a Council action," clarifies Norris. "This was a mayoral action"
If the U.S. invades Iran, an international issue becomes local, explains Norris. "Citizens from our community are sent off to die in this war. It diverts resources. It cuts funding for infrastructure. I can't ignore that there are some impacts to our community. On issues of grave importance, the least I can do is sign a petition."
"I think it's an abuse of power," says Charles L. "Buddy" Weber, head of the city Republicans–- although he specifies he's not speaking for Republicans. "He's certainly free to have his own opinion, and that's not to say we should invade Iran. I don't think anyone's beating the drum to invade Iran–- that would be stupid."
What bothers Weber: "When he signs it as mayor, it's a public act, and he's speaking for the people of Charlottesville." He also wonders if Norris' petitioning as mayor is legal.
"I think it's a great idea," says Middle East expert Ruhi Ramazani, the Edward R. Stettinius professor emeritus of government and foreign affairs at UVA. "There is a concerted effort on the part of some hardliners– the neocons– who were supportive of the president's invasion of Iraq."
And the international impact of small-town mayors petitioning about Iran? Their signatures show grassroots opposition to the war outside of Washington, says Ramazani.
Barack Obama has already taken heat for saying he'd talk with Iran. "One of the things that can come from talking to Iran is Iran is a major oil producer," Ramazani points out.
For Norris, it harkens back to the invasion of Iraq. "We didn't ask the hard questions last time," he says. "I can't pretend these national issues don't affect us."
And with the president coming to Monticello July 4, maybe Charlottesville is the center of the universe.