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War Resisters League: Statement On Iraq

Statement on War in Iraq

"War is a respectable term for hooliganism practiced on a mass or national scale. " —Mohandas Gandhi

March 20, 2003, marks one of the darkest days in U.S. and world history. As this statement is written, bombs fall on Baghdad, and U.S. and British troops, in violation of international law and world opinion, have crossed the borders of Iraq.

The War Resisters League does not support the regime of Saddam Hussein (nor do we support the regime of George Bush and the tiny cabal of the Supreme Court who put him in the White House and the others who advise him of his every move). When Saddam invaded Iran, we opposed that action. The U.S. government supported Iraq in that war, providing it with chemical and biological weapons, some of which it used—with tacit U.S. consent—because this country feared Iran and its Islamic revolution. That terrible war took nearly a million Iraqi and Iranian lives.

Now, in his turn, Saddam has earned U.S. wrath, and the Bush administration has declared war on Iraq, allegedly to liberate it from his regime. But every principle of democracy holds that regime change, whether in Iraq or in the United States, is the task of the people of that country, and not of any foreign power.

We would not support this war no matter what its rationale. As pacifists we support no war and find no war meets the standard of justice. We believe in the concept of Gandhian nonviolence to resist injustice, even to resist a military attack. In any war civilians are killed. Even if the only casualties are among the military, those casualties are almost always from among either conscript troops (as is the case with Iraq) or virtually conscripted troops, conscripts out of economic need, as most of the U.S. forces are. But in fact there are civilian casualties in every war, more than ever in modern warfare, where the weapons of mass destruction, no matter how “smart” they are meant to be, are blind in their ability to choose between civilians and military. In the U.S. attack on Afghanistan, despite the “smart” bombs, more civilians died than were in killed in the attack on the World Trade Center.

As to Iraq, hundreds of thousands—most of them children—have already died as a result of the U.S. and British sanctions, which have lasted more than ten years. This prolonged silent violence, approved by every administration (including Bill Clinton’s) since 1991, is as violent as any of the actions Saddam has taken.

This war, however, is an act of naked aggression so blatant that the United States was unable even to get a U.N. resolution to support it. (In any case, the United States chooses which U.N. resolutions to enforce. Israel has defied U.N. resolutions for decades and daily kills Palestinian civilians—now a U.S. peace activist, Rachel Corrie, has been added to those dead—yet it can count on U.S. military and economic support and is in no danger of a U.S. attack to enforce the U.N. resolutions.) Thus, the U.S. and British attack on Iraq is in violation of the Charter of the United Nations. As a war of aggression, it is also in violation of every other body of international law including the standards of the Nuremberg Tribunal. If we believe that every nation should be subject to the same international standards, then we must acknowledge that George Bush, every member of his cabinet, and all their leading military officers should face trial for the crime of planning and launching this attack. Finally, the attack is simply in violation of every standard of human decency.


War Resisters League 339 Lafayette St. New York, NY 10012 212-228-0450

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