Hatfield: Death of a moderate


The death of former U.S. Senator, Mark Hatfield, on Aug, 8, gives pause to consider the scope for moderate voices in the hyper-partisan American milieu, focused as it is on military responses to conflicts in the world. Hatfield was a Republican from Oregon, serving there for over 30 years until 1997. The obituary in The Globe and Mail (Aug 9, 2011, p.S7) quoted from his 2001 memoir:

I’m often pegged as a pacifist. In fact, I am not…I’m not totally opposed to military force [for example the Second World War], yet I believe force should not be used until all other options have been exhausted. And most critically, we ought to address the causes of war – poverty, lack of education, health, racism, militarism, or conflict over raw materials [such as oil] – and work to prevent war in the first place.

In Sojourners magazine’s tribute to Hatfield, Wesley Granberg-Michaelson writes:

His witness remained resonant through his 30 years as a U. S. senator. For instance, as incredible as it may seem, he never voted for a military authorization bill. He joined forces with Ted Kennedy to propose legislation for a “nuclear freeze” in response to the arms race. He was one of the few senators to oppose the “first” Iraq war. He pleaded for a “balanced” approach to the Middle East conflict that recognized the necessity of justice for the Palestinian people.

Requiescat in pace.

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