Peace Porridge #31, 10/08/02: Ten Reasons to Oppose War Against Iraq.  

These are critical times. We stand within a hair's breadth of embarking on a war which could mean disaster for the entire planet.

Last week I spent two days in Washington DC as part of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center, lobby days. While the legislative aides that I talked to were willing to listen to my message, the lawmakers they work for, with a few exceptions, are not willing to act upon it. The prevailing attitude seemed to be: Right or wrong we are going to war. There is nothing that any of us here on Capitol Hill can do about it, so lets go with the flow. I kept trying to think of reason after reason for not going to war, hoping that maybe something I would say would resonate with our lawmakers; but, it seems, to no avail.

Since most of our elected representatives have surrendered, that leaves it up to us, the people of the United States. We must let our voices be heard. We must oppose this war. And we can do it. We can prevail. We can stop this war before it starts.

Thousands have spoken up already. Thousands more will join them. We will join hands with our 1.5 million Italian sisters and brothers who marched for peace this weekend; our 350,000 British brothers and sisters who marched for peace in London last weekend; and our sisters and brother in every corner of the planet who stand in opposition to the man who occupies the White House and his cabal of "chickenhawks" who believe they have the right to make war against anyone they choose, in any place, at any time, and for any reason.

I consolidated the arguments I used on Capitol Hill last week into ten reasons to oppose war against Iraq. They are not meant to be inclusive. Certainly there are many more. These are the ones I thought might resonate best with US lawmakers.

Cautionary Voices Prevail in Washington

1. WAR IS BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT. We are already experiencing catastrophic climatic events in unheard of number and intensity. The vast amounts of greenhouse gasses released by military activity only add to these climatic disasters. As a result of the 1991 Persian Gulf War: Oil well fires burned out of control for months spreading toxic pollution over the entire region. 320 tons of toxic radioactive depleted uranium were spread over southern Iraq, Kuwait and parts of Saudi Arabia. Fragile ecosystems in the Persian Gulf were damaged and destroyed. Another Persian Gulf war will probably be even more environmentally destructive, and may cause the collapse of the planetary environmental life-support systems on which we all depends.

2. MODERN WARFARE IS TOO DESTRUCTIVE TO CONTEMPLATE, winners, losers, and civilians will all suffer. The 1991 Persian Gulf War was fought on a "toxic battlefield" which included depleted uranium, nerve toxins, soot from oil fires, untested prophylactic pills and vaccines, and other toxic substances. The result is that of the over 1/2 million US Gulf War conflict veterans, almost 200,000 (36%) have submitted claims to the Veterans Administration for service connected disabilities; almost 150,000 (29%) have had their claims approved, at least in part; and almost 10,000 (2%) have died. (see National Gulf War Resource Center. Also see "Gulf War Syndrome, Legacy of a Perfect War" by Alison Johnson)

National Gulf War Resource Center

Gulf War Syndrome, Legacy of a Perfect War

Iraqi soldiers and civilians living near the war zone were even harder hit, and continue to suffer, become ill, die, and give birth to deformed babies as a result of toxic exposure. Leukemia and congenital malformations have increased five fold in southern Iraq since 1990.

One can expect, if not immediate loss of life, similar loss of health and quality of life among invading and defending troops and civilian inhabitants, should there be another Persian Gulf war. Both Iraq and the United States have had 11 years to prepare for Gulf War II. It would be foolish to believe that there will be no toxic surprises in store for civilians and soldiers on both sides.

3. THIS PROPOSED WAR IS ILLEGAL. The US Constitution requires that war be declared by congress. It is questionable whether the US congress has the constitutional power to give away that which has been granted to it by the Constitution. It is certainly improvident for congress to do so. The UN charter very clearly prohibits preemptive strikes. As a member nation of the UN, the UN charter has the status of law in the United States. A preemptive strike is, therefore, illegal under US law.

4. THE PRETEXTS FOR THIS WAR ARE EXTREMELY THIN. Iraq has agreed in principle to unfettered weapons inspections. Chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, has been satisfied with the cooperation received from the Iraqis so far. The existing protocol, including the eight presidential palaces, could be revised and strengthened through negotiations. War is unnecessary, but George Bush wants war at any cost. Bush's draft resolution to the UN contains provisions for the US to station troops on Iraqi soil.

NATO Used the Same Old Trick When It Made Milosevic an Offer He Could Only Refuse - by Robert Fisk

Iraq is faced with the choice of surrender or invasion. Of course, Iraq will have little choice but to fight back, no matter how out-gunned they may be.

5. THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES ARE AGAINST WAR, except possibly as a last resort, and then only with broad international support. Recent polls show that more and more US citizens are opposing war. In a CBS/NYT poll last week, the people of the United States said by a 2 to 1 margin that they would prefer to see UN weapons inspectors have more time to do their work before military action is taken.

Poll: Bush Should Wait on Iraq

Meanwhile, tens of thousands have marched for peace in Washington DC, New York, and other US cities.

6. THE CLOSEST ALLIES OF THE UNITED STATES AND, INDEED, THE ENTIRE WORLD STAND AGAINST THIS WAR. 1.5 million people demonstrated against war in Italy this weekend. Last weekend, 350,000 demonstrated in London. Unilateral preemptive war will severely diminish the stature of the US in the UN and throughout the world. Unilateral preemptive military action will make a mockery of international law and encourage countries and extra-territorial military organizations (often called terrorist organizations) to solve disputes violently. Instead of an international coalition against terror, we will have, as the prophet Jeremiah put it, "terror on every side."

7. WAR WILL MAKE THE ALREADY HORRENDOUS HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN IRAQ MANY TIMES WORSE. UNICEF estimates that 5,000 Iraqi children already die unnecessarily of preventable causes each month because of sanctions. Some progress has been made in distributing food to the Iraqi people, and rebuilding water treatment plants and other components of the public health infrastructure. This progress is very fragile and will all be destroyed, if Iraq is heavily bombed or invaded.

UNICEF - Special Session on Children

8. IF THE US SUCCEEDS IN ITS PLANS FOR "REGIME CHANGE," IRAQ WILL ALMOST CERTAINLY BE FACED WITH MILITARY DICTATORSHIP OR ANARCHY. The unsavory characters waiting in the wings to take over the government of Iraq after a US invasion are hardly an improvement over the current leadership, or an example of democracy. See recent article in Scotland's Sunday Herald.

Unveiled: The Thugs Bush Wants in Place of Saddam - by David Pratt

The welfare of the Iraqi people is unlikely to improve under these US backed thugs, or under the anarchy and warlordism into which Iraq may descend if no successor government can establish itself. There is also no assurance that a post-invasion Iraqi government will forego the lure of possessing weapons of mass destruction.

9. WAR IS BAD FOR THE US AND WORLD ECONOMY. The US stock market went back into decline along with George Bush's march toward war. The conventional wisdom that war is good for the economy no longer holds. With the US military budget approaching $400 billion; and health, education, clean air and water, employment, transportation and other civilian needs severely neglected; civilian sectors of the US economy will continue to decline, as long as the United States remains geared toward endless war.

10. WAR WILL TEAR APART THE FABRIC OF THE UNITED STATES. During the Vietnam War years (approximately 1963 to 1973) the United States was at war with itself, as the government insisted on prosecuting an unpopular war, which a large segment of the US population strongly opposed as unjust and genocidal. This is where the United States is headed now, if it continue to make endless war in all corners of the planet.


None of these ten reasons are original, or even controversial. I've seen each one discussed in print many times. While the details might be debatable, the basic truth of each point is unassailable. So, one has to wonder about a US congress which, with a few exceptions, would ignore the common good and rush into an improvident war. What happened to deliberation? What happened to democracy?

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

"We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation."

--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - April 4, 1967


To download a copy of this text right click here