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Vol. XVII, No.2 Winter, 2003
Letter From Joanne Landy,
Thomas Harrison, Jennifer Scarlott, Co-Directors, Campaign for Peace
BOTH SADDAM HUSSEIN AND THE U.S. WAR ON IRAQ:
A CALL FOR A NEW, DEMOCRATIC U.S. FOREIGN
We oppose the impending U.S.-led war on Iraq,
which threatens to inflict vast suffering and destruction, while
exacerbating rather than resolving threats to regional and global
peace. Saddam Hussein is a
tyrant who should be removed from power, both for the good of the Iraqi
and for the security of neighboring countries. However, it is up to the
Iraqi people themselves to oust Saddam Hussein, dismantle his police
state regime, and democratize their country. People in the United
States can be of immense help in this effort--not by supporting
military intervention, but by building a strong peace movement and
working to ensure that our government pursues a consistently democratic
and just foreign policy.
We do not believe that the goal of the
approaching war against Iraq is to bring democracy to the Iraqis, nor
that it will produce this result. Instead, the Bush Administration's
aim is to expand and solidify U.S. predominance in the Middle East, at
the cost of tens of thousands of civilian lives if necessary. This war
is about U.S. political, military and economic power, about seizing
control of oil fields and about strengthening the United States as the
enforcer of an inhumane global status quo. That is why we are
opposed to war against Iraq, whether waged unilaterally by Washington
or by the UN Security Council, unaccountable to the UN General Assembly
and bullied and bribed into endorsing the war.
The U.S. military may have the ability to
destroy Saddam Hussein, but the United States cannot promote democracy
in the Muslim world and peace in the Middle East, nor can it deal with
the threat posed to all of us by terrorist networks such as Al Qaeda,
and by weapons of mass destruction, by pursuing its current policies.
Indeed, the U.S. could address these problems only by doing the
opposite of what it is doing today -- that is, by:
-Renouncing the use of military intervention to
extend and consolidate U.S. imperial power, and withdrawing U.S. troops
from the Middle East.-
Ending its support for corrupt and authoritarian regimes, e.g. Saudi
Arabia, the Gulf states and Egypt.
-Opposing, and ending U.S. complicity in, all forms of terrorism
worldwide -- not just by Al Qaeda, Palestinian suicide bombers and
Chechen hostage takers, but also by Colombian paramilitaries, the
Israeli military in the Occupied Territories and Russian
counterinsurgency forces in Chechnya.-
Ending the cruel sanctions on Iraq, which inflict massive harm on the
-Supporting the right of national self-determination for all peoples in
the Middle East, including the Kurds, Palestinians and Israeli Jews.
Ending one-sided support for Israel in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
-Taking unilateral steps toward renouncing weapons of mass destruction,
including nuclear weapons, and vigorously promoting international
-Abandoning IMF/World Bank economic policies that bring mass misery
to people in large parts of the world. Initiating a major foreign aid
program directed at popular rather than corporate needs.
A U.S. government that carried out these
policies would be in a position to honestly and consistently foster
democracy in the Middle East and elsewhere. It could encourage
democratic forces (not unrepresentative cliques, but genuinely popular
parties and movements) in Iraq, Iran and
Syria, as well as Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and
Some of these forces exist today, others have yet to arise, but all
flower if nurtured by a new U.S. foreign policy.
These initiatives, taken together, would
constitute a truly democratic foreign policy. Only such a policy could
begin to reverse the mistrust and outright hatred felt by so much of
the world's population toward the U.S. At the same time, it would
weaken the power of dictatorships and the appeal of terrorism and
reactionary religious fundamentalism. Though nothing the United States
can do would decisively undermine these elements right away, over time
a new U.S. foreign policy would drastically undercut their power and
The Administration's frantic and flagrantly
dishonest efforts to portray Saddam Hussein as an imminent military
threat to people in this country and to the inhabitants of other Middle
Eastern countries lack credibility. Saddam Hussein is a killer and
serial aggressor who would doubtless like nothing better than to wreak
vengeance on the U.S. and to dominate the Gulf Region. But there is no
reason to believe he is suicidal
or insane. Considerable evidence suggests that Saddam Hussein is much
militarily than he was before the Gulf War and that he is still some
from being able to manufacture nuclear weapons. But most important,
Al Qaeda, he has a state and a position of power to protect; he knows
any Iraqi act of aggression now against the U.S. or his neighbors would
about his total destruction. As even CIA Director George Tenet has
out, it is precisely the certainty of a war to the finish against his
that would provide Saddam Hussein with the incentive he now lacks to
whatever weapons he has against the U.S. and its allies.
Weapons of mass destruction endanger us all and
must be eliminated. But a war against Iraq is not the answer. War
threatens massive harm to Iraqi civilians, will add to the ranks of
terrorists throughout the Muslim world, and will encourage
international bullies to pursue further acts of aggression. Everyone is
legitimately concerned about terrorism; however, the path to genuine
security involves promoting democracy, social justice and respect for
the right of self-determination, along with disarmament,
weapons-free-zones, and inspections. Of all the countries in the world,
the United States possesses by far the most powerful arsenal of weapons
of mass destruction. If the U.S. were to initiate a democratic foreign
policy and take serious steps toward disarmament, it would be able to
encourage global disarmament as well as regional demilitarization in
the Middle East.
The Bush Administration has used the alleged
Iraqi military danger to justify an alarming new doctrine of preemptive
war. In the National Security Strategy, publicly released on September
20, 2002, the Bush Administration asserted that the U.S. has the right
to attack any country that might be a potential threat, not
merely in response to an act of military aggression. Much of the world
sees this doctrine for what it is: the proclamation of an undisguised
U.S. global imperium.
Ordinary Iraqis, and people everywhere, need to
know that there is another America, made up of those who both
recognize the urgent need for democratic change in the Middle East and
government's militaristic and imperial foreign policy. By signing this
we declare our intention to work for a new democratic U.S. foreign
That means helping to rein in the war-makers and building the most
antiwar movement possible, and at the same time forging links of
and concrete support for democratic forces in Iraq and throughout the
We refuse to accept the inevitability of war on
Iraq despite the enormous military juggernaut that has been put in
place, and we declare our commitment to work with others in this
country and abroad to avert it. And if war should start, we will do all
in our power to end it immediately.
[People wishing to sign the statement or donate
disseminate it can contact Campaign for Peace and Democracy, POB
630245, Bronx, NY 10463, email@example.com. A two-page ad with the names of
the signers appeared in the issue of The Nation mailed out on
December 18 (cover date 1/6/03). The list of signers will be updated
periodically on the ZNet site www.zmag.org.]
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STATEMENT OF VETERANS MEETING AGAINST WAR WITH IRAQ, NOVEMBER
We have assembled in New York City on November 10, 2002 to
declare that as Veterans who have served in the Armed Forces of the
States, we are gravely concerned about the course the Bush
is forcing on our country and the world.
We are especially alarmed at their relentless
for war with Iraq. We believe the cause of world peace and security is
served through international cooperation and by sending United Nations
back to Iraq, not by saber rattling and threats of a unilateral US
attack. We are opposed to an invasion of Iraq.
We also declare that the misnamed "USA Patriot
Act" represents a serious threat to the fundamental civil liberties and
freedoms that we swore to protect and defend. We call for a repeal of
this legislation, for an end to blanket roundups and detentions
targeting Muslim communities and for a restriction on excessive police
powers aimed at silencing dissent.
We are patriots who have stood in defense of
this country. We have a right and a duty to speak out. We will not
remain silent while our rights are undermined and the threat of endless
war looms. We are committed to this struggle for peace, justice and
freedom and we appeal to our fellow citizens and elected
representatives to speak up and act before it is too late.
This statement was adopted unanimously at a
meeting of 175 veterans held the day before Veterans Day 2002 at the
Local 1199 SEIU hall in Manhattan. The meeting was sponsored by the
Veterans For Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Veterans of the
Abraham Lincoln Brigade, Black
Veterans for Social Justice and Military Families Network.
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DIANE PERLMAN, Ph.D. CO-CHAIR,
COMMITTEE ON GLOBAL VIOLENCE AND SECURITY, PSYCHOLOGISTS FOR SOCIAL
MISINTERPRETATION OF BIN LADEN'S MESSAGES: ERRING ON THE SIDE
Missing the Messages: While media experts are preoccupied
with the analysis of Bin Laden's voice, they have completely failed to
understand, or even read the actual words. Speculation about hidden
meanings and clues totally ignores the obvious intended message, which
is so clear that it does not even need decoding. Wild speculation of
meaning is based more on imagination and fear than expertise.
Because of the hate and fear evoked by Osama, because we were so
traumatized by him, we automatically block what he is communicating,
making dangerous assumptions about what we imagine he means. The image
of the enemy generates a powerful emotional charge that interferes with
Let's try to make sense out of this and not let emotions cloud our
thinking. Let's not make the immature assumption that accurately
understanding the enemy is somehow unpatriotic. When being threatened,
understanding the psychology of the enemy is a matter of life and
The Messages: We have received three clear messages from
Bin Laden in the last year, on November 11, 2001, October 6, 2002, and
November 12, 2002. All are credible and plausible and make
psychological sense. They have all been grossly misinterpreted.
As a clinical and political psychologist, I consider these
communications to be contain information vital to our survival. Just
because Bin Laden
is our arch enemy, it does not follow that we should not take his
communications seriously, or accurately.
While President Bush said on November 13 that he intended to take these
messages seriously, his interpretation is incorrect, in fact, it is the
opposite of the true meaning. Bush suggested that these messages mean
that we have to go to war. In fact they mean that if we do go to war we
will provoke a chain reaction of terrorist attacks that would not occur
do not go to war. Our own CIA, as well political psychologists,
terrorism experts, Middle East analysts, and social psychologists
including Dr. Phil Zimbardo, president of the American Psychological
Association, expert on violence
, speaker on the psychology of evil all agree that going to war will
Bin Laden's messages are always interpreted as unconditional threats
and intentions of plans to attack. They are not. The consistent
theme in all messages, said in many ways, is a conditional warning that
whatever we do, they will respond in kind. It is entirely credible.
What is missed, whether intentionally or unconsciously, is the
conditionality - the centrality of our role in provoking retaliation,
and our potential role in preventing retaliation, reducing tension, and
Some of the quotes are listed below. They all say that our actions will
determine their actions. Politicians and the media often respond to the
first half of a sentence without reading the second part. In fact, many
news stories have based entire commentaries on fragments taken out of
context, which is irresponsible and dangerous, We misread them at our
In general, the media's responses promote an exaggerated sense
of impending threats that have the effect of increasing fear and
passivity. They ignore information about ways that we can behave that
will reduce these threats. We should wonder why these parts are left
Here are some quotes that were not reported in full or interpreted
*November 11, 2001 Bin Laden said that he had nuclear weapons, but he
would not use them unless we used them first. Bin Laden said that he
was holding them as a deterrent, and said that if the US used them,
would reserve the right to use them in retaliation.
*Sun Oct 6, 2002. "By God, the youths of God are preparing for you
things that would fill your hearts with terror and target your economic
lifeline until you stop your oppression and aggression" against
Muslims, said the voice in the audiotape. (All reports said that he was
threatening our economic lifeline, and was planning an action soon,
leaving out the second half of the sentence).
"So let America increase the pace of this conflict or decrease it, and
we will respond in kind."
*November 12, 2002 'It is time we get even,'' says the voice. ''You
will be killed just as you kill, and will be bombed just as you bomb.
expect more that will further distress you.''
Osama also suggested that he will attack other countries who cooperate
with us. This is totally predictable, as multilateral action would
increase the number of targets for retaliation, and would still provoke
hatred of the U.S. for leading the coalition.
We are on the verge of going to war in the name of preventing a
threat. The reasons given for going to war, the fantasy of a preemptive
strike, a term used incorrectly. It is, in fact, a provocative strike.
war will unleash a cascade of unintended consequences, including a
Jihad against the US. It is entirely likely that terrorist attacks are
to be carried out once we start the war.
Terrorism is a form of asymmetrical warfare. There is no amount
of domination that cannot be turned against us, as we saw on September
11. Counter-terrorism - trying to physically get rid of terrorists
can never work. It is treating the symptom but not the cause. It
creates more terrorism while trying to eliminate it. Our attacks on Al
Qaida in Afghanistan caused them to decentralize to other locations and
increased recruitment, making them harder to find. There is no end game
to counterterrorism. The only way to reduce terrorism is to
address the root causes and to transform our use of our power in the
world. (For a deeper analysis of this see my chapter, "Intersubjective
Dimensions of Terrorism and Its transcendence" in Volume 1, The
Psychology of Terrorism, Chris Stout, Editor).
The connection between Iraq and Al Qaida is one created by us,
we are driving them into each other's arms. Osama has said that if we
invade Iraq, he will respond in kind, he will bomb, he will killŠ. if
we do. If we don't he won't. There is every reason to believe him.
History is filled with military blunders. If we go war, it will be a
megablunder. With asymmetrical warfare and weapons of mass destruction
the consequences will likely be beyond anything we have ever seen.
The misinterpretation of Osama's message supports the irrational drive
towards war. By exaggerating the threat and censoring the message
of the conditionality of violence, we collude with the forces that
permanent world war. We are blinded from seeing our way out of this
spiral of retaliation.
We have an opportunity to avert disaster. We need to see and hear
clearly and accurately, even messages from our most hated villains. If
we go to war we are likely to create more Sadaams and Osamas who will
up in ten years. The stakes are as high as can be.
It will take major miracles to prevent this war, but we can start with
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LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT OF SEARCH FOR COMMON GROUND ON
ITS AIKIDO APPROACH
AIKIDO. Our mission is to transform how the
world deals with conflict away from adversarial approaches to
cooperative solutions. In perilous times like these, my colleagues and
I are often impatient and yearn for peaceful outcomes to the problems
that are tearing apart the planet. We understand, however, that we are
a relatively small organization and lack the direct power to reverse
the course of current events. If we were to take a confrontational
stance, we would be acting like boxers who use their fists to try to
knock opponents backwards by 180 degrees. This is not who we are.
Rather, we follow a strategy rooted in the Japanese martial art of
aikido. So, when we face an opposing force whether an attacker or
a violent conflict we accept the force as a given. We blend with
it and, in the process, try to shift it 15 or 20 degrees in order to
create a new situation, in which everyone is safe. Thus, aikido
provides a metaphor for the way we do our work. In effect, we practice
For example, in the Israeli-Palestinian
struggle, we carry out activities aimed at deflecting the violence in
non violent directions. As much as we would like to end the violence
now, we lack the ability. But if we remain well grounded and have a
solid place to stand, then we believe we can help shift things toward
negotiations and peace. Thus, we work with Palestinians and Israelis to
try to make non-violent action into the prevailing norm. Here is what
we are doing, with funding from the Danish, Dutch, Finnish, UK, and US
governments, the European Union, the Ploughshares Fund, and the Arca,
Compton, and New Land Foundations.
Polling: In August, we commissioned Palestinian
and Israeli polling organizations to determine attitudes toward non
violence on both sides. The polls attracted much attention, and we are
releasing a second poll this December.
A Force More Powerful: Last spring we arranged
for Palestinian independent TV stations to broadcast this six-part PBS
series on non-violence. The stations are re-broadcasting the series in
late 2002, accompanied by panel discussions.
NGOs: We work with the Academy for Educational
Development to support Palestinian NGOs in promoting non-violence and
Women & Non-Violence. In partnership with
the Truman Institute of the Hebrew University and Middle
East Non-Violence and Democracy (MEND), we sponsor eight Israeli
and eight Palestinian women in exploring non violent approaches to
conflict resolution and assisting them in developing training
CGNews: Our Common Ground News Service has distributed numerous
articles on non-violence, including a series of ten that we
commissioned. These articles have been widely reprinted in the Arabic,
Hebrew, and English-language media.
Regional Cooperation: In addition to our work with Palestinians and
Israelis, we have been engaged for 11 years in promoting cooperation
across the region. Using aikido, we try to shift Middle Easterners,
away from confronting each other as the enemy, to standing side-by-side
facing shared problems. For instance, in October in Istanbul, with
from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, we convened Egyptian, Israeli,
Jordanian, and Palestinian health professionals to promote cooperation
on infectious disease surveillance. Participants, both governmental and
non governmental, agreed that, despite the bleak political situation,
they should work together to limit disease outbreaks, whether natural
or caused by biological attack. As a participant noted, "Viruses do not
stop at checkpoints."
Infectious Spirit: Participants decided to
establish a new entity, called the Middle East Consortium on Infectious
Disease Surveillance (MECIDS), for which we will provide staff support.
The aim is to develop and harmonize regional methods for detection,
reporting, processing, and data
collection. The group decided to begin cooperative projects immediately
food-borne diseases and the West Nile virus. The atmosphere in the
meeting was "more than exciting," according to an Israeli public health
specialist. A Palestinian microbiologist said, "I expected more
difficulty in finding common ground. People were professional around
the table. We are one epidemiological family brothers and sisters
As discouraging as events are in the Middle
East, we work in other places where there is good news. In Angola, for
example, four decades of war finally seem to have ended. We started our
Angola program in 1996, and we chose to continue even after a previous
peace process collapsed. Our view is that peace-making and
peace-building are long-term processes; that setbacks are inevitable;
and that we need to keep alive what ABC-TV's Ted Koppel has called our
"voice of hope." So, with funds from the Belgian, British, Dutch, and
Swiss governments, the European Union, and the U.S. National Endowment
for Democracy, we carry out the following activities in Angola:
Media: We have produced a TV series, three radio
soap opera series, theater performances, and the Angolan Peace Song.
All projects are aimed at a mass audience and advance such themes as
peace is possible; peace begins with me; and individuals can make a
Refugees: We sponsor training in conflict
resolution and collaborative problem-solving. In addition, we use live
drama to reach thousands of internally displaced people (IDP).
Peace and Security. This project, headed by a
elite commando officer, provides police and military forces with
training in conflict resolution and community policing.
Kofi Annan: In August, UN Secretary General Kofi
Annan visited Angola, and we were proud to welcome him to an IDP camp
where one of our theater troupes performed for him.
VISION-BASED GIVING. While we are fortunate to
have the support of many committed, generous donors, we have never made
a systematic effort to seek out such people. Yet, individual
contributions provide us with the flexibility to begin new projects and
respond to urgent needs. They become the start-up funds that enable us
to leverage large-scale grants. We particularly value individual donors
who contribute because they share our vision. We would very much like
and could usefully spend
a much higher level of individual contributions. For example, we have
an ambitious initiative, under the leadership of Carole Frampton, to
how to expand the common ground approach into a worldwide movement.
is a project that goes well beyond the guidelines normally used by our
funding sources in governments and foundations. If you are interested
getting involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you. With
support of people like you, we have been able to accomplish a great
our first 20 years. Please accept our deep gratitude.
With best wishes,
John Marks, President , Search for Common Ground, 1601 Connecticut
Avenue, NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20009 (202)265-4300,
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These articles and opinions of
the authors do not constitute the endorsement of Nonviolent Change nor
its publisher, Organization Development Institute, or any of its staff.
©2002, 2003, 2004,2005. All rights reserve. The Nonviolent
Change Journal is published by the Research/ActionTeam on
Nonviolent Large Systems Change - an interorganizational and
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