CONTACT: John F. Hartman
American Ethical Union
Two West 64th Street, Suite 406
New York, New York 10023
212-362-0850 Email: email@example.com
AMERICAN ETHICAL UNION OPPOSES WAR AGAINST IRAQ
New York – March 17, 2003 – The American Ethical Union,
through its Board of Directors and The National Leaders’ Council, the
professional association of Ethical Culture leaders, strongly opposes an American war against Iraq. In its stead, we advocate international
containment of the Iraqi regime.
Ethical Culture’s regard for human life and its commitment to
mutually fulfilling relations among nations inspires us to oppose war and seek
solutions to the current crisis through international cooperation.
We recognize that
in an age of terrorism security cannot be achieved through a policy of
unilaterism and the brute display of military force. Peace and stability will only be attained
through the democratic states working cooperatively, through international
arrangements and adherence to international norms. We call on the United
States to take leadership in this initiative
through moral example and diplomacy.
We join with
numerous religious and secular organizations, and millions of Americans and
individuals throughout the world, in opposition to a war against Iraq. We call upon the
American administration to support increased and intensified United Nations
inspections to be continued indefinitely.
Recognizing the dangers posed by the Iraqi regime, we maintain that the
response needs to be containment of the Iraqi regime, supported by the threat
of force and validated by the international community.
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1. Philosophical Commitments
Though not a pacifist organization, Ethical Culture
considers violence and war the last resort to resolve disputes between
nations. Ethical Culture’s highest value
is vested in reverencing the dignity of human beings, and in preserving human
life, on which that dignity, with rare exceptions, depends. Ethical Culture is also committed to creating
a world community founded on mutually fulfilling relations on all levels,
including relations among nations. We
consider war, resulting in the wholesale killing of both combatants and
defenseless civilians, and reflecting the most severe dissolution of the human
bond, as the most egregious violation of the values we hold most dear.
consider the planning for war, requiring the employment of human ingenuity in
the service of destruction, a perversion of the dignity of the human
spirit. It demeans both its victims and
its perpetrators while subordinating the value of human life to instrumental
and strategic ends.
Yet we recognize that the
interests of self-preservation, and the protection of human rights, reluctantly
make the use of force, on occasion, necessary.
We express a general kinship to the international consensus, recognizing
that war can only be justified in the service of national
self-defense, and pre-emptive war, only when an assault on one’s own territory
conclude that a war against Iraq fails to meet the criteria of a justifiable
Dangers We Confront
affirm that Iraq, led by Saddam Hussein, presents
significant dangers that require an international response. We recognize that his regime has been, and
continues to be, a gross abuser of human rights, and that he has perpetrated
the wanton offense of employing chemical weapons against his own people and
against the people of Iran. We
also find it likely that he continues to stockpile chemical and biological
weapons, while employing resistance, deception and mendacity in the face of
international inspection efforts, both in the 1990s and currently.
proclaim our opposition to a war against Iraq with a sober understanding of the dangers
posed by international terrorism, and the potential consequences posed by an
Iraqi regime unchecked by a response from the international community. We believe, however, that the American
administration has not made a compelling case with regard to Saddam Hussein’s
nuclear capacity nor with regard to significant linkage to the al-Qaeda
terrorist network. We affirm that the
Iraqi regime does not present an immediate and direct threat to the safety of
3. The International Community and American
has sought endorsement by the United Nations Security Council for an assault on
Iraq, we remain apprehensive that the policy of
unilateralism pursued by the Bush administration will trump the will of the
international community. We are
concerned and fearful that a pre-emptive war against Iraq is not only a
violation of the United Nations charter, to which the United States is a
signatory, but will prove detrimental to America’s security interests in the
are alarmed at the aggressively unilateral designs of the American
administration, of which a war against Iraq is a defining moment. A new doctrine of American unilateralism,
dedicated to the creation of American military and economic domination on a
global scale, is ominously resulting in the alienation of our traditional
allies. This policy of the United States potentially undermines the good will and
cooperation necessary for the successful pursuit of international
terrorists. We are also concerned that a
war on Iraq will divert efforts from the necessary
pursuit and destruction of terrorist networks, while potentially augmenting the
ranks of international terrorism.
Moreover, the waging of pre-emptive war, in violation of the United
Nations charter, will set a dangerous precedent that will encourage other state
actors to initiate pre-emptive wars for interests of their own. American action against Iraq, especially undertaken without
international sanction, will bring more violence to an already dangerous
wavering rationales have been proffered by the administration in defense of a
war against Iraq. Among them have been the
need to depose Saddam Hussein, the dismantling of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and the
creation of a democratic regime in Iraq as a springboard to seeding democracy in
the Middle East region.
Despite these manifest rationales, we are concerned that the prevailing
interest of the Bush administration is the establishment of military and
economic hegemony over the region inclusive of Iraqi oil resources. We see a new “pax Americana” enforced by American military might in
accordance with the doctrine that will not tolerate any loci of power other
than our own. Again, we are fearful of
American unilateralism, which will further inflame our enemies, while eliciting
resentment among our allies.
4. Post-War Iraq
There has been little
deliberation and less debate about a post-war Iraq. An American occupation of Iraq,
either directly or through an Iraqi proxy government, will incur a monumental
economic burden at a time when the American economy is experiencing deep
We recognize that Iraq
is an ethnically divided country held together through centralized, autocratic
power. We are fearful that a post-Saddam
will be characterized by inter-group violence and score settling among the
Kurdish, Sunni and Shiites populations, which will render Iraq
dangerous to govern, if not ungovernable.
Refugee flight will likely be a source of further violence and
instability in the region.
we are opposed to the war, we recognize that America’s
“going it alone” especially in a post-war reconstruction phase is one of the
strongest arguments against an assault on Iraq.