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forest defense | imperialism & war

A governor with some Guts

Gov. Brian Schweitzer has touched off a political fight with Montana Republicans after calling for the return of National Guard troops serving in Iraq. This guy needs some support email him a letter of support. He's heads above our gutless wonder in the governor's mansion.

Montana Governor Sets Off Fight with Call to Bring Guard Home

Sunday 13 March 2005

Sula, Mont. - Gov. Brian Schweitzer has touched off a political fight with Montana Republicans after calling for the return of National Guard troops serving in Iraq to help out in what many fear will be a record-setting wildfire season.

Mr. Schweitzer, a newly elected Democrat, infuriated Republican lawmakers who see his request as a way to criticize the Bush administration over Iraq.

"He's figured out how to use the wildfire season to protest the Iraq war," said Bob Keenan, the state Senate Republican leader. "It's an antiwar statement and condemnation of Bush's actions."

The governor and his supporters deny those accusations in a growing political battle that comes as weather experts say a seven-year drought and a severely reduced snowpack could lead to a devastating summer of wildfires.

They also worry that limited resources stretched thinner by the National Guard's service overseas could make it hard to combat the kind of huge blazes that engulfed the state in 2000, when some 2,400 wildfires burned nearly 950,000 acres of mostly public land.

"Everything right now is pointing to the possibility of a large and damaging fire season," said Bruce Thoricht, meteorologist with the federal Northern Rockies Coordination Center in Missoula.

Governor Schweitzer said Montana would disproportionately suffer the pain of proposed cuts in the federal budget, with money allocated for firefighting cut in half.

As fire season approaches, about 1,500 of Montana's 3,500 National Guard troops have been deployed on federal active duty, said a Montana Guard spokesman, Maj. Scott Smith.

A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Mike Milord, said in an e-mail message that deals with neighboring states would provide for more troops during emergencies this summer.

The bulk of the Guard's helicopters - critical in shuttling fire crews and equipment to blazes - are unavailable, either because they are in Iraq or their aviation officers are absent.

Schweitzer has done all right 14.Mar.2005 16:10

mild elixir

My only concern is that firefighting is not war! And I don't think that this is what Governor Schweitzer is saying, but at the same time, it makes it tough to break down the war mentality when you bring troops home from the war in Iraq to fight the war on fire. Then what, send them back to Iraq? In 2003, the Minerall Primm fire burned near Missoula and into the Rattlesnake Wilderness (see  http://www.nativeforest.org/Slideshows/mineral_primm_slideshow/index.htm). A long fireline was cut into and through part of the Wilderness. A dozer was nearly dropped into the Wilderness. This mentality is doing extreme damage to our National Forests. Bringing our troops home needed NOW, but continuing on the War against fire makes me concerned. It would be great if our policitians stood up for the real reasons to bring our troops home like, "this is a war for corporations and not worth spilling our people's blood" or "our soldiers deserve a future not f'd by chemicals and mental sickness," and "the innocent Iraqi people are the victims." Anyway, this took a different turn when I started writing. Simply put, firefighting shoud focus right around communities, and backcountry fires should be allowed to burn.
Wild Siskiyou banner hang will occur at the University of Montana soon and I'll post info about it.
Keep it up.

I don't think back-country fires should be left to burn 14.Mar.2005 18:55


Not in an year when we're feeling the drastic effects of global warming like were are this year. The weather we're having is totally unnatural. Look how bone dry we are:  http://water.usgs.gov/waterwatch/ . Somethings not right, I'm not even feeling like I live in the
NW anymore. I'm getting pretty sick of the newscasters saying what a great day it is outside too. I want my Cascadia back.

Typically, I'd agree, let nature take it's course, but somethings fishy with our weather and personally, I'm extremely worried about it.

Personally, I think 15.Mar.2005 00:14

any port in a storm.

Bring them home, whatever way works. It's being worked on here in OR too, as this year's fire season is going to be really wretched. The snowpack is at 37% of normal as of this month and this is only going to get worse during the next months. There is legitimate law involved here too. The Montgomery Act was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1990 with the provisions regarding the Governor's right ot recall NG troops in the case of their being unable to complete their stateside missions because of deployment. I don't care a whit about the ethical questions those Repugnicrats raise, the pot is calling the kettle black and it means nothing compared to the lives being lost- American and Iraqi.

The deal here is to make the NeoCons manpower problems so intense they have to bring the draft into play. If this happens this will bring the war home in a way that the Bushites have dreaded. Most Americans already agree the Iraq debacle was not worth what it is costing in monetary and human terms, but they are not directly affected and so will continue to allow the criminals at the top to run with the ball until they have something more to lose than abstract numbers and concepts. Engage John and Jan Q. Public's direct interest- threaten their kids' well being- and watch this ill conceived, illegal, immoral adventure shrivel and die.