We oppose both Saddam Hussein
and the U.S. war on Iraq
A call for a new, democratic
U.S. foreign policy
Campaign for Peace and Democracy
The Nation magazine, January
We oppose the impending U.S.-led war on
Iraq, which threatens to inflict vast suffering and destruction,
while exacerbating rather than resolving threats to regional and
global peace. Saddam Hussein is a tyrant who should be removed
from power, both for the good of the Iraqi people and for the
security of neighboring countries. However, it is up to the Iraqi
people themselves to oust Saddam Hussein, dismantle his police
state regime, and democratize their country. People in the United
States can be of immense help in this effort-not by supporting
military intervention, but by building a strong peace movement
and working to ensure that our government pursues a consistently
democratic and just foreign policy.
We do not believe that the goal of the
approaching war against Iraq is to bring democracy to the Iraqis,
nor that it will produce this result. Instead, the Bush Administration's
aim is to expand and solidify U.S. predominance in the Middle
East, at the cost of tens of thousands of civilian lives if necessary.
This war is about U.S. political, military and economic power,
about seizing control of oilfields and about strengthening the
United States as the enforcer of an inhumane global status quo.
That is why we are opposed to war against Iraq, whether waged
unilaterally by Washington or by the UN Security Council, unaccountable
to the UN General Assembly and bullied and bribed into endorsing
The U.S. military may have the ability
to destroy Saddam Hussein, but the United States cannot promote
democracy in the Muslim world and peace in the Middle East, nor
can it deal with the threat posed to all of us by terrorist networks
such as Al Qaeda, and by weapons of mass destruction, by pursuing
its current policies. Indeed, the U.S. could address these problems
only by doing the opposite of what it is doing today-that is,
* Renouncing the use of military intervention
to extend and consolidate U.S. imperial power, and withdrawing
U.S. troops from the Middle East.
* Ending its support for corrupt and authoritarian
regimes, e.g. Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Egypt.
* Opposing, and ending U.S. complicity
in, all forms of terrorism worldwide-not just by Al Qaeda, Palestinian
suicide bombers and Chechen hostage takers, but also by Colombian
paramilitaries, the Israeli military in the Occupied Territories
and Russian counterinsurgency forces in Chechnya.
* Ending the cruel sanctions on Iraq,
which inflict massive harm on the civilian population.
* Supporting the right of national self-determination
for all peoples in the Middle East, including the Kurds, Palestinians
and Israeli Jews. Ending one-sided support for Israel in the Palestinian-Israeli
* Taking unilateral steps toward renouncing
weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, and vigorously
promoting international disarmament treaties.
* Abandoning IMF/World Bank economic policies
that bring mass misery to people in large parts of the world.
Initiating a major foreign aid program directed at popular rather
than corporate needs.
A U.S. government that carried out these
policies would be in a position to honestly and consistently foster
democracy in the Middle East and elsewhere. It could encourage
democratic forces (not unrepresentative cliques, but genuinely
popular parties and movements) in Iraq, Iran and Syria, as well
as Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Turkey.
Some of these forces exist today, others have yet to arise, but
all would flower if nurtured by a new U.S. foreign policy.
These initiatives, taken together, would
constitute a truly democratic foreign policy. Only such a policy
could begin to reverse the mistrust and outright hatred felt by
so much of the world's population toward the U.S. At the same
time, it would weaken the power of dictatorships and the appeal
of terrorism and reactionary religious fundamentalism. Though
nothing the United States can do would decisively underline these
elements right away, over time a new U.S. foreign policy would
drastically undercut their power-and influence.
The Administration's frantic and flagrantly
dishonest efforts to portray Saddam Hussein as an instrument military
threat to people in this country and to the inhabitants of other
Middle Eastern countries lack credibility. Saddam Hussein is a
killer and serial aggressor who would doubtless like nothing better
than to wreak vengeance on the U.S. and to dominate the Gulf Region.
But there is no reason to believe he is suicidal or insane. Considerable
evidence suggests that Saddam Hussein is much weaker militarily
than he was before the Gulf War and that he is still some distance
from being able to manufacture nuclear weapons. But most important,
unlike Al Qaeda, he has a state and a position of power to protect;
he knows that any Iraqi act of aggression now against the U.S.
or his neighbors would bring about his total destruction. As even
CIA Director George Tenet has pointed out, it is precisely the
certainty of a war to the finish against his regime that would
provide Saddam Hussein with the incentive he now lacks to use
whatever weapons he has against the U.S. and its allies.
Weapons of mass destruction endanger us
all and must be eliminated. But a war against Iraq is not the
answer. War threatens massive harm to Iraqi civilians, will add
to the ranks of terrorists throughout the Muslim world, and will
encourage international bullies to pursue further acts of aggression.
Everyone is legitimately concerned about terrorism; however, the
path to genuine security involves promoting democracy, social
justice and respect for the right of self-determination, along
with disarmament, weapons-freezones, and inspections. Of all the
countries in the world, the United States possesses by far the
most powerful arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. If the U.S.
were to initiate a democratic foreign policy and take serious
steps toward disarmament, it would be able to encourage global
disarmament as well as regional demilitarization in the Middle
The Bush Administration has used the alleged
Iraqi military danger to justify an alarming new doctrine of preemptive
war. In the National Security Strategy, publicly released on September
20, 2002, the Bush Administration asserted that the U.S. has the
right to attack any country that might be a potential threat,
not merely in response to an act of military aggression. Much
of the world sees this doctrine for what it is: the proclamation
of an undisguised U.S. global imperium.
Ordinary Iraqis, and people everywhere,
need to know that there is another America, made up of those who
both recognize the urgent need for democratic change in the Middle
East and reject our government's militaristic and imperial foreign
policy. By signing this statement we declare our intention to
work for a new democratic U.S. foreign policy. That means helping
to rein in the war-makers and building the most powerful antiwar
movement possible, and at the same time forging links of solidarity
and concrete support for democratic forces in Iraq and throughout
the Middle East.
We refuse to accept the inevitability
of war on Iraq despite the enormous military juggernaut that has
been put in place, and we declare our commitment to work with
others in this country and abroad to avert it. And if war should
start, we will do all in our power to end it immediately.
For information contact the Campaign for
Peace and Democracy at email@example.com.
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