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Statement from the Pacific Lutheran University
Peace Studies Working Group on the Current Crisis

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

We believe that the following points respecting the current Iraq crisis represent the consensus of informed observers around the world. They are, however, neglected or omitted by nearly all reports in the US mainstream media, which cannot be relied upon as an accurate source of news about the international situation.

1) The weapons inspections in Iraq were, in fact, working. More than 100 weapons inspectors were deployed, on average 300 inspections a month were taking place, but US interference prevented inspections from continuing.

2) The US has never explained why its alleged knowledge demonstrating that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction was not communicated to the inspectors, as called for by paragraph 10 of UN Security Council Resolution 1441. Our government could and should have provided without delay all relevant information in its possession to the UN inspectors, as other nations did, in the interests of expediting the inspections process. Although the US and UK continue to assert that it exists, no generally accepted evidence that Iraq currently has weapons of mass destruction has been made public. And there is no generally accepted evidence of Iraqi support for transnational terrorist groups either.

3) Under Resolution 1441, to which the US agreed and which the UN Security Council unanimously endorsed on Nov. 8, 2002, it is the UN, not the White House, that is the legitimate center of decision-making with regard to any military action against Iraq. The US has by no means demonstrated the existence of a situation that would justify an attack by the United States without UN Security Council approval under just war theory, as most understand this doctrine.

4) The US has rebuffed reasonable proposals to strengthen the weapons inspection process which have included such steps as doubling or tripling the number of inspectors, setting up an international surveillance body, deploying observation aircraft, establishing a collective information processing center, ranking unresolved disarmament questions by common accord, and laying down a strict and realistic time frame -- most recently, a proposal this weekend from France, Germany, and Russia, with Chinese support, to set a 30-day deadline to conclude the inspections process. Instead, the false claim is repeated that "endless" or "perpetual" inspections are being demanded. The refusal of the US administration to consider these proposals calls into question its good faith commitment to the inspections process.

5) Because of its horrific costs and incalculable consequences, it is widely recognized that nations and their leaders have a moral duty to avoid this war if possible. A real possibility of avoiding a war on Iraq would in fact exist if the US would permit it to exist.

6) Given the danger posed by them, maintaining international unity in the world's response to the challenge of transnational terrorist groups ought to be a high priority. But this unity is being undermined by a war waged by a US-led coalition in the absence of a UN Security Council resolution supporting it. Such a war is very likely to stoke the sources of transnational terrorism.

7) The official position of the government of Iraq was that it accepted the international community's right to demand verification that Iraq was free of weapons of mass destruction, and Iraqi cooperation, while not total, was in fact sufficiently extensive to justify the continuation of the inspections process. This was the prevailing view on the UN Security Council, as well as of the overwhelming majority of the international community and world public opinion, however measured.

8) TIME WOULD NOT BE RUNNING OUT IF THE US WERE NOT INSISTING THAT TIME IS RUNNING OUT. Only the US and a few allies say that time is short. In fact, UN Security Council Resolution 1441 imposed no time limits, and under paragraph 11 of the resolution it is up to the Executive Chairman of UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (Hans Blix) and the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (Mohamed ElBaradei) to report Iraq's failure to comply with its disarmament obligations to the UN Security Council. This they have not done. This calls into question the legitimacy of the war on Iraq. At least one NATO partner (Belgium) has already announced that it considers the US to be "acting illegally" and will refuse to permit use of its airspace or the transit of troops and war material through its territory. And on Mar. 17, the Russian foreign minister said: "We believe the use of force against Iraq, especially with reference to previous resolutions of the U.N. Security Council, has no grounds, including legal grounds."

Peace Studies Working Group @ PLU -- March 18, 2003 -- for more information, call 253-535-7219

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