“The past is prophetic in that it asserts that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows. One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. How much longer must we play at deadly war games before we heed the plaintive pleas of the unnumbered dead and maimed of past wars?” –Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows condemns unconditionally the illegal, immoral, and unjustified US-led military action in Iraq. As family members of September 11th victims, we know how it feels to experience “shock and awe,” and we do not want other innocent families to suffer the trauma and grief that we have endured. While we also condemn the brutality of Saddam Hussein’s regime, it does not justify the brutality, death and destruction being visited upon Iraq and its citizens by our own government.
What others may view as a policy decision, we see clearly as the murder of innocent people. Death among the civilian population in Iraq will be immediate: the result of bombing that kills indiscriminately. Especially at risk are the children who make up 50% of Iraq’s population. Death will also come later, from malnutrition and disease caused by the interruption of vital relief services and the destruction of infrastructure for supplying food and medicine. More deaths will occur years from now, as a result of the horrendous environmental impacts of waging war using lethal contaminants such as depleted uranium, a substance banned by the European Union.
We are also concerned about this war’s consequences for America’s military personnel, brave women and men who enlisted to defend our country, only to find themselves sent to fight an unjust war of aggression. Our prayers are with them and their families, and our hopes are that they will return soon.
Meanwhile, American citizens will bear the staggering costs of military action and the resulting reduction in spending on domestic infrastructure and social programs. We assert that Congress’s lack of accountability for this war is a serious threat to our Democracy. We call on the House and the Senate to fulfill their Constitutional roles, both as representatives of the public will and as a check against the abuse of power by the Executive branch. And we call on them to defend America from all of the threats–economic, political, and military–that gather against it.
This war will not make America safer. On the contrary, it has already resulted in heightened anti-American sentiment around the world, and is likely to promote further terrorist attacks, not just today, but years from today. It will not protect American families from another September 11th
Therefore, members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows will continue to oppose this war and to draw attention to its civilian victims. We will demand compensation for them, as we did for innocent civilians killed and injured by our bombs in Afghanistan. These casualties must be included as we tally the costs of choosing to wage war.
Finally, we will keep the faith with millions of people across the United States and around the world who have formed a truly international community favoring peace and declaring this war immoral. We are confident that, in spite of the events of today, the wisdom of their views will prevail as the 21st century unfolds, and as we continue to build a global community that honors humanity, keeps families whole, and renders war obsolete.