"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."



Statement on Fallujah ñ April 22, 2004


In the aftermath of the ambush, killing, and grisly desecration of four American civilian security contractors in Fallujah on March 31 by an angry mob, U.S. military officers promised a "precise" response whose aim was to bring those responsible for the crimes to justice. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said on April 1: "We will respond. We are not going to do a pell-mell rush into the city. It's going to be deliberate, it will be precise and it will be overwhelming. We will not rush in to make things worse."


London's Daily Telegraph reported on April 2, however, that behind the 20-mile-long 15-foot concrete wall that encloses Baghdad's "Green Zone," American civilian contractors were of a different mind. Speaking on an air-conditioned shuttle bus, one angry American civilian told reporter David Blair: "Let's just go in and level the town. Let's tell them to get their women and children out and then go in and level it. Why are these Iraqis protesting against us? They are the ones who are killing us, not the other way round." Another American civilian said that reconstruction in Fallujah should be "thrown into reverse."


The same state of mind is reported to be common among the marines besieging Fallujah. On April 13, Newsday said that many of them anticipate a bloody battle for the city, and 1st Lt. Frank Dillbeck said: "At this point, there seem to be few options other than to get innocents out and level it, wipe it clear off the map."


Subsequent events demonstrate conclusively that desire for revenge upon an entire population that amounts to collective punishment has prevailed over the desire for a precise response grounded in a principle of justice based upon individual responsibility.


We protest. Revenge killing is wrong. Collective punishment is wrong.


Revenge is generally, in the mind of the perpetrator, a sort of rough justice. The ancient principle of the lex talionis, "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," which was embodied in the code of Hammurabi, king of Babylonia some 3,760 years ago, was an early step in the development of the rule of law. But present U.S. policy cannot be justified even by this primitive principle. It is a return to a barbaric standard ñ 100 eyes for 1 eye ñ that violates the internationally recognized principles of proportionality and discrimination in attacks. In the name of defending civilization, democracy, and the rule of law, U.S. forces are doing the opposite in Fallujah. They are contributing to a regression of civilization.


In a period of five days in early April, according to many independently confirmed reports based on hospital records in Fallujah, operation "Vigilant Resolve" resulted in the deaths of many hundreds of innocent civilians, including about one hundred children under the age of 12.


Outrage at these American actions have inflamed Iraq. Even pro-American members of the U.S.-appointed Provisional Governing Council denounced the measures as unjustifiable collective punishment, illegal under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits "collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism." Many reputable observers, including the American Friends Service Committee and Christian Peacemaker Teams, consider that the events of early April in Fallujah constituted a massacre.


Now the U.S. appears to be on the verge of going even further in the same direction. For days U.S. military officers and Coalition officials have warned that time is running out for Fallujah. In today's New York Times, the senior Marine Corps general in Iraq, Lt.Gen. James T. Conway, is quoted as saying: "We will take this city. . . . There are X number of days left. In that period of time, we need to see some distinctive cooperation on the part of the Iraqis inside the city to disarm. If that doesn't happen, it's inevitable that we'll go in and attack these people."


This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. There is no prospect that the inhabitants of Fallujah will prostrate themselves before the United States marines besieging their city, which they see as an unjust occupying force.


It is clear that further death and destruction in Fallujah will serve the interests neither of Americans, nor Iraqis. The only logic that can be invoked to justify the inevitable slaughter of innocents is that of making an example of Fallujah. But this is collective punishment. It is not a policy that accords with fundamental American values. It is ineffective. It is futile. It is stupid. It is self-defeating. It is prohibited. And it is wrong.


We oppose the "taking" of Fallujah.




"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions

rather than cooperative diplomacy."