People for Peace, Justice, and Healing

On Norm Dicks's Change of Heart on the Iraq War

People for Peace, Justice, and Healing

November 26, 2005

One of the consequences of the Republicans' shameful vilification of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA 12th) two weeks ago has been a shift by Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA 6th) in his public position on the Iraq war.

Dicks is a hawkish Democrat who not only backed the decision to go to war on Iraq but "worked quietly and behind the scenes to build Democratic support for the Iraq war resolution" (2004 Almanac of American Politics [Washington, DC: National Journal Group, 2003], p. 1698).

This week, though, he reversed his position by giving an extended interview on the subject to the Seattle Times (November 25, 2005).

Anger at efforts to smear his friend John Murtha and those questioning the Iraq war played a crucial role in bringing about the shift, according to Dicks. The Bremerton-born former Warren Magnuson aide has represented the most populous part of Pierce County, WA, for almost 29 years, but he told reporter Alicia Mundy that "I can't remember anything quite as traumatic as this in my history here."

By his own account, what really riled Dicks was being "lumped in with peaceniks," Mundy reports.

We're not surprised. After all, Dicks has long been a pillar of the U.S. national security state. He serves on the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee of which Rep. Murtha is the ranking Democratic member. No peacenik he, Dicks actually "complained when B-2s [Stealth bombers, a Boeing product] weren't used in 1998 air attacks on Iraq" (2004 Almanac of American Politics, p. 1698).

Norm Dicks's change of heart was widely noted. The largest newspaper in his district, the News Tribune (Tacoma, WA), ran an AP story based on the Seattle Times account on its front page Saturday (November 26, 2005). And, inevitably, the right-wing web site News Busters howled at Dicks for "doing a 'Murtha.'"

Frankly, though, we find it hard to understand why Dicks has taken so long — so long to realize that the Bush administration was cooking intelligence about Iraq, and so long to realize the unprincipled character of current Republican leadership. These were clear to "peaceniks" long before the war broke out; perhaps Norm Dicks should pay more attention to them. Or perhaps it's the shift in public opinion polls that make certain things easier to perceive.

Norm Dicks may not want to be "lumped in" with people like ourselves, but we're sure most "peaceniks" will join us in welcoming Norm Dicks's Thanksgiving 2005 change of heart on the Iraq war.

—People for Peace, Justice, and Healing ( meets every Saturday at 10:00 a.m. at Associated Ministries, 1224 South "I" St., Tacoma, WA.

Return to main page

Last updated: November 26, 2005