An Open Letter to Prime Minister Helen Clark Stand up for Peace
3 February 2003
Dear Prime Minister,
The world is faced with the imminent prospect of war. Throughout history courageous individuals, communities, leaders and nations have stood for peace in the face of war. We urge you to make a stand internationally for a peaceful resolution to this conflict. We urge you to oppose a war on the innocent people of Iraq, whether or not an attack is sanctioned by the United Nations, because:
* A war in Iraq would have devastating human and environmental consequences * A conventional war (one in which no nuclear, chemical or biological weapons are used) could kill over a quarter of a million people, most of them civilians (the last Gulf War killed 200,000 Iraqis). Famine, disease and social dislocation could kill another 250,000. If the war escalates to involve chemical or nuclear attack, casualties could be as high as four million people, and there would be a legacy of toxic and nuclear contamination to deal with for generations to come.
* War will not eliminate weapons of mass destruction and is likely to increase the possibility of terrorism Despotic regimes such as that of Saddam Hussein frequently arise from the ashes of nations devastated and oppressed by war. War is the breeding ground for international instability and may lead to further acts of terrorism such as the tragic atrocity of September 11 2001 in New York.
Military strikes against states possessing or suspected of possessing weapons of mass destruction (of which the US has the greatest number) do not provide a stable basis for controlling or abolishing them. Will we see repeated armed interventions against numerous countries including India, Pakistan, Israel, Russia and China? North Korea is openly seeking to acquire such weapons. Does President Bush intend to attack each of these nations in turn?
Peace-abiding nations must push for collective international arms control and disarmament through the frameworks that already exist with formal bodies such as the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, and treaties such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention. New Zealand has argued forcefully for these international frameworks in the past, but the US is increasingly detaching itself from such treaties.
* War will not increase global security War will not solve the issues facing our planet. Real security will not be built on military power and political and economic oppression. Security depends on tackling the causes of conflict: poverty, injustice and competition for scarce resources.
* One objective of this war is to gain control of Iraq’s oil reserves, not increase global security As Nelson Mandela has said, an attack on Iraq would be “clearly motivated by George W Bush’s desire to please the arms and oil industries of the USA”. Iraq’s known oil reserves are second in size only to Saudi Arabia’s.
A war with Iraq can only bring greater suffering on innocent people and perpetuate the cycles of violence and bloodshed that all peace-loving nations must work to end. New Zealand’s unique international position as a nuclear-free nation with a strong history of promoting disarmament gives us some leadership on this issue.
We urge you as our Prime Minister to publicly advocate a peaceful resolution to this conflict and oppose any war with Iraq.
Margaret Crozier Executive Director
Greenpeace New Zealand