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



Statement on the Worsening Situation in Iraq


April 8, 2004


The United States should reverse course in Iraq.


On April 7, on the floor of the United States Senate, Robert Byrd of West Virginia said: "The time has come for a new approach in Iraq." The war, Senator Byrd said, was an "unwarranted intervention" that should be acknowledged as a mistake. The U.S. is facing "utter chaos," he said -- "the stuff of nightmares." To those who try to silence critics by questioning the propriety of their remarks, Byrd recalled U.S. history and said that in the American system of government, "dissent is not only important, but it is also mandatory. Questioning flawed leadership is a requirement of this government. Failing to question, failing to speak out, is failing the legacy of the Founding Fathers." In conclusion, he called on the president "to level with the American people about the magnitude of mistakes made and lessons learned."


We agree. As the situation worsens, as ill will toward Americans increases among Iraqis, the range of options diminishes. U.S. troops are in harm's way, and supporting them in this context cannot mean causing more of them to die in a hopeless cause. It is not plausible that the path to rapid disengagement from Iraq should lead through increased troop levels there.


There may have been a time when U.S. leadership following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein could have helped the people of Iraq. That time is now long past. Inadequate planning, bungling, and self-interestedness on the part of the Coalition authorities have made it impossible for the United States to play a positive constructive role in Iraq.


The president may believe that he can, like some great and magnificent Wizard of Oz, forever stand behind the curtain manipulating levers, repeating his scripted claims that U.S. policy in Iraq has always been sound and is succeeding. In the past week, as casualties have mounted, Coalition forces have lost control of territory and have had to abandon their posts, and the well-known fact that existing forces are inadequate for controlling the situation in the face of a hostile population has become evident for all to see, George W. Bush's spokespeople maintained that this was "not a crisis." But it is a crisis.


Not believing the administration to be delusional, we regard these statements as disingenuous. They should cease. We urge our public officials to confine their statements in this crisis to the realm of the reasonable.


Progress in Iraq requires that the U.S. acknowledge its errors and its responsibilities. There must be an overt revolution in U.S. policy toward Iraq, one that acknowledges that the war was, as Senator Byrd says, an "unwarranted intervention," and embraces a fundamentally different policy. Such a forthright declaration, together with the will to cooperate with, rather than flout, the will of the international community of nations, is the only recipe for hope in Iraq at the present time. We call on U.S. authorities to reverse course by admitting past mistakes, drawing appropriate lessons, and cooperating with other nations in a spirit of contrition to enable the founding of a legitimate government that represents the will of the peoples of Iraq, using this occasion as an opportunity to strengthen the authority of the United Nations in dealing with international catastrophes.


"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions

rather than cooperative diplomacy."