WASHINGTON – With U.S. war planes and troops poised for combat with Iraq, peace forces vowed to continue the fight against war. Win Without War, a coalition of religious, community, and equal rights organizations, sharply condemned George W. Bush’s preemptive attack on Iraq and urged their millions of members to mobilize for peace.
“Win Without War remains steadfastly opposed to the Bush doctrine of preemptive attack and the reckless use of military power,” declared WWW National Director Tom Andrews, reading from a WWW statement during a crowded news conference in the National Press Club, March 19. Andrews, a former congressman from Maine, was joined by Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, and Roman Catholic, Protestant and Jewish leaders as well as leaders of women’s equality and community organizations. “It is only through respect for international law, our international allies, and the United Nations that we can hope to successfully address our most serious international challenges including terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, North Korea ...,” the statement said.
Hailing the world peace movement, Andrews said, “We have an enormous amount of momentum, a very strong base across this country. This is a powerful force across this country to defeat this first-strike doctrine.”
The coalition stressed that it supports U.S. service personnel and urged peace activists to contact soldiers through “Operation Dear Abby” available at
winwithoutwar.org. “We hope and pray for their safe return as we hope and pray for the innocent men, women and children of Iraq,” the statement said.
Mary Ellen McNish, speaking for the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group, reported that AFSC and other humanitarian groups had met with Pentagon officials to offer help in aiding to 11 million Iraqis who will lack food and clean water in the first days of the war. But Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld made clear that any relief “must be a ‘force enhancer,’” she charged. “Our answer is, absolutely not!” All humanitarian relief agencies must be neutral, she said.
Arthur Waskow, director of the Shalom Center said the peace sentiment among Jewish people is being mobilized against the war with a full page ad in the New York Times, March 20 against Bush’s invasion.
The Win Without War statement notes, “Unlike the Gulf War of 1991 where our allies paid for 90 percent of its cost, Americans will now be required to shoulder the burden of this unnecessary war – a price that will drive up our already skyrocketing deficit and put yet more pressure on our fragile economy.”
Jeff Blum, executive director of U.S. Action, said his group is also actively participating in the Fair Taxes For All Campaign. “It’s outrageous we are going to war and they aren’t telling us how much it will cost,” Blum told the World. “Are we going to give each millionaire a ,000 tax cut or are we going to fund Medicare? Are we giving ,000 to each millionaire and at the same time slashing veterans’ benefits by billion? Are we going to give ,000 to each millionaire while Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ is woefully underfunded?”
On March 17, three dozen anti-war demonstrators were arrested on the U.S. Capitol grounds demanding that Congress break its silence on the war. Republican majority leaders have limited Congress’ role to banning french fries in Capitol dining halls. While most lawmakers fell in line behind Bush after his televised ultimatum that same day, some lawmakers spoke out sharply against the war.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif), flanked by labor and religious leaders, told a news conference in her Oakland office, “The best way to support our troops is not to put them in harms way. This is just the beginning. Which country is next? Iran? Syria? Where does this policy of preemption take us?” Her news conference was one of several coordinated by members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) told Newhouse News Service, “In the Black community all over America there is an anti-war sentiment.” Standing beside him was Illinois State Sen. Mickey Hendon, who said, “My constituents think it’s a war for oil, a war for control, to show superiority, and that’s wrong. It’s a way to distract us from the economy and the deterioration of the American way of life under President Bush.”
Meanwhile, 52 California legislators signed a statement of opposition to the war “without a formal resolution by the United Nations Security Council and a declaration of war by the Congress of the United States.” The legislators cited “a lack of credible evidence to convince other nations” that war is justified.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), who voted for the war resolution last November, told delegates to a meeting of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), “I’m saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we’re now forced to war. I’m saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn’t create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical to our country.”
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Originally published by the People’s Weekly World