PAX Tab Letter on Iraq
PAX AGAINST ATTACKING IRAQ
Brookline PAX, formed as an antiwar group in the 1960's, is compelled
by current, unfortunate events to return to those roots. The PAX Board
opposes any U.S. attack on Iraq until and unless (1) there is clear
and convincing evidence of a serious and imminent threat of aggression
by Iraq, and (2) the U.N. has determined that collective action is necessary
against Iraq. At this time, neither of these conditions has been met.
We as a people and a nation must not retreat from our commitment to
act as a constructive force within the community of nations. Human progress
resides in the respect for international law and the sovereignty of
nations. As the strongest of these nations, the U.S. has a special responsibility
to uphold and abide by broadly supported principles of international
behavior such as those laid out in the U.N. Charter, which decrees:
1. No nation can use military force except in self-defense (arts. 39,
51); 2. The Security Council is the only body that can authorize the
use of force (art. 24; ch. VII); and 3. Only the Security Council can
decide what action can be taken to maintain or restore international
peace and security. (art. 39)
PAX views with great alarm two major changes in U.S. foreign policy
advanced by the Bush administration: a new policy of "preemptive"
attack, and a concerted determination to act unilaterally (or with a
thin veil of "coalition") in world affairs. Both policies
fly in the face of a half-century of successes in establishing safeguards
minimizing violence in the conduct of international relations.
To falsely market its idea of "preemptive war," the administration
blurred its important distinction from the more pertinent and far more
treacherous notion of "preventive war." U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy,
D-Massachusetts, recently said: "'preemptive' action refers to
times when states react to an imminent threat of attack. ... By contrast,
the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor ... was a 'preventive' action. The
coldly premeditated nature of preventive attacks and preventive wars
makes them anathema to well-established principles against aggression."
Finally, PAX also regrets Congress' abdication, reminiscent of the shameful
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. As stated by U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West
Virginia, the recently-passed Resolution "... is a blank check
for the president to take whatever action he feels 'is necessary and
appropriate in order to defend the national security of the United States
against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.' ... Congress must not
attempt to give away the authority to determine when war is to be declared."
The desire of people the world over is to feel safe and secure. The
surest long-term path to safety and security, both domestic and abroad,
is through collaborative efforts under international law - not through
belligerence and unilateralism.