Carter's opposition to administration war policy
ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Wed Feb 5 10:22:52 MST 2003
The following is a statement by former President James E. Carter criticizing
the Bush administration's plans to invade and occupy Iraq.
The statement is completely within the framework of a debate among the
imperialist rulers over how to advance their interests against the great
majority of humanity. Far from indicating any respect for Iraq's
sovereignty, he proposes methods of even more sharply reducing it short of
full-scale invasion. He makes no criticism of the devastating sanctions or
the current bombing.
Nonetheless two things are worth noting. As a former president, Carter's
public opposition to the policy of a sitting president is most unusual.
Since World War I, I think, this has been largely considered out of order.
(Before then, it was not unusual.)
Secondly, Carter's opposition to a US invasion of Iraq, as far as it goes,
is unconditional. He does not hinge it on whether Powell "proves" Iraqi
duplicity at the United Nations. He does not condition it on the action of
the United Nations Security Council. He is opposed to the invasion, and
believes it is uncalled for from the standpoint of the interests of U.S.
capitalism today as he understands them.
This places him a little bit beyond the framework of the overwhelmingly
dominant official ruling class debate --the Powell-Blair-NewYorkTimes vs.
Rumsfeld-Cheney-Wolfowitz-Perle debate over how to carry out the invasion
with the widest acceptance and least open opposition.
A Statement By President Carter: An Alternative To War
31 Jan 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Deanna Congileo
Atlanta...Despite marshalling powerful armed forces in the Persian Gulf
region and a virtual declaration of war in the State of the Union message,
our government has not made a case for a preemptive military strike against
Iraq, either at home or in Europe.
Recent vituperative attacks on U.S. policy by famous and respected men like
Nelson Mandela and John Le Carré, although excessive, are echoed in a Web
site poll conducted by the European edition of TIME magazine. The question
was "Which country poses the greatest danger to world peace in 2003?" With
several hundred thousand votes cast, the responses were: North Korea, 7
percent; Iraq, 8 percent; the United States, 84 percent. This is a gross
distortion of our nation's character, and America is not inclined to let
foreign voices answer the preeminent question that President Bush is
presenting to the world, but it is sobering to realize how much doubt and
consternation has been raised about our motives for war in the absence of
convincing proof of a genuine threat from Iraq.
The world will be awaiting Wednesday's presentation of specific evidence by
Secretary of State Colin Powell concerning Iraq's possession of weapons of
mass destruction. As an acknowledged voice of moderation, his message will
carry enormous weight in shaping public opinion. But even if his effort is
successful and lies and trickery by Saddam Hussein are exposed, this will
indicate any real or proximate threat by Iraq to the United States or to our
With overwhelming military strength now deployed against him and with
intense monitoring from space surveillance and the U.N. inspection team on
the ground, any belligerent move by Saddam against a neighbor would be
suicidal. An effort to produce or deploy chemical or biological weapons or
make the slightest move toward a nuclear explosive would be inconceivable.
Iraq does possess such concealed weapons, as is quite likely, Saddam would
use them only in the most extreme circumstances, in the face of an invasion
of Iraq, when all hope of avoiding the destruction of his regime is lost.
In Washington, there is no longer any mention of Osama bin Laden, and the
concentration of public statements on his international terrorist network is
mostly limited to still-unproven allegations about its connection with Iraq.
The worldwide commitment and top priority of fighting terrorism that was
generated after September 11th has been attenuated as Iraq has become the
preeminent obsession of political leaders and the general public.
In addition to the need to re-invigorate the global team effort against
international terrorism, there are other major problems being held in
abeyance as our nation's foreign policy is concentrated on proving its case
for a planned attack on Iraq. We have just postponed again the promulgation
of the long-awaited "road map" that the U.S. and other international leaders
have drafted for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is a
festering cancer and the root cause of much of the anti-American sentiment
that has evolved throughout the world. At the same time, satellite
observations of North Korea have indicated that nuclear fuel rods, frozen
under international surveillance since 1994, are now being moved from the
Yongbyon site to an undisclosed destination, possibly for reprocessing into
explosives. It is imperative that this threat to Asian stability be met with
Since it is obvious that Saddam Hussein has the capability and desire to
build an arsenal of prohibited weapons and probably has some of them hidden
within his country, what can be done to prevent the development of a real
Iraqi threat? The most obvious answer is a sustained and enlarged inspection
team, deployed as a permanent entity until the United States and other
members of the U.N. Security Council determine that its presence is no
needed. For almost eight years following the Gulf War until it was withdrawn
four years ago, UNSCOM proved to be very effective in locating and
Iraq's formidable arsenal, including more than 900 missiles and biological
and chemical weapons left over from their previous war with Iran.
Even if Iraq should come into full compliance now, such follow-up
will be necessary. The cost of an on-site inspection team would be minuscule
compared to war, Saddam would have no choice except to comply, the results
would be certain, military and civilian casualties would be avoided, there
would be almost unanimous worldwide support, and the United States could
regain its leadership in combating the real threat of international
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is chair of The Carter Center in
Ga., a not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization that advances peace and
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