When It Comes to the War in Gaza, the Global Is ‘Going Local’

When It Comes to the War in Gaza, the Global Is ‘Going Local’
Audience members show their support for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza at a special session of the Oakland City Council, in Oakland, Calif., Nov. 27, 2023 (AP photo by D. Ross Cameron).

We’re used to hearing about a phenomenon “going global.” But lately it seems as if the global has “gone local,” judging from the recent spate of local governments in the U.S. taking positions on international issues. More precisely, city councils across the country have passed resolutions calling for a cease-fire in Gaza. Chicago was the biggest U.S. city to pass such a resolution back in January, but it was not the only one. Similar resolutions were passed in municipalities ranging from Minneapolis-St. Paul to San Francisco. And while Boston pulled back from voting on a cease-fire resolution, its neighbor, Cambridge, passed one.

Notably, the war in Gaza is just the most recent case in which municipalities have waded into global politics by taking a stand on an issue of war and peace. Following Russia’s full invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, for instance, a host of U.S. cities, from Columbus to Dallas, passed resolutions expressing their support for Ukraine. Indeed, some municipalities, such as Chicago, have a long history of passing resolutions related to foreign affairs.

Why do cities do this? Though the entire enterprise might at first glance appear to be mere grandstanding, there are reasons to think it is more than that. One can see why municipalities, particularly those seeking to be global cities, feel a need to be active participants in the global debate over such an important issue, especially insomuch as it facilitates international tourism, trade and investment.

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