As an organization representing mainstream Americans, veterans of the 1991 Gulf war, and grassroots activists concerned about the humanitarian and economic consequences of an attack on Iraq, EPIC has several critical concerns that the President must still address before war.
First, there will be great human and economic costs. The humanitarian consequences of a war in Iraq would be so grave as to result in the loss of countless Iraqi lives and the increased threat to Americans at home and abroad. According to an internal planning document prepared by a UN task force (Dec. 2002), 500,000 Iraqi casualties and upwards of 10 million Iraqis in need of immediate humanitarian aid could result from war. Economic costs of a U.S. war on Iraq could exceed $1 trillion (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Dec. 2002).
Second, disarmament in Iraq could take years. The disarmament of South Africa, routinely cited by the Bush administration as resoundingly successful, took two full years to accomplish. UN weapons inspectors have only been back inside Iraq for less than three months. If the U.S. is truly invested in the UN disarmament process, why strike militarily and thereby halt inspections when they have only just begun?
Finally, the Iraq/al-Qaeda link is weak. The administration’s claim of a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda rests heavily on reports that a Jordanian al-Qaeda member, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, received medical treatment in Baghdad. Yet there is no evidence that al-Zarqawi received anything other than medical treatment in Iraq.
While Secretary Powell has not proven an imminent threat, he has demonstrated the success of aggressive weapons inspections in disarming Iraq. During his speech, Mr. Powell cited several instances of Iraq moving weapons. This only proves the UN has disrupted Iraq’s weapons program, and that continued inspections can be expected to bring about further disarmament and destruction of weapons. If anything, the Secretary’s presentation is an argument for reinforcing the current inspection regime, not for stopping it.
“A preemptive invasion of Iraq would constitute a repudiation of the very system of international law that we are compelling Iraq to abide by. The inspection process guided by the United Nations is the best way to ensure Iraq is disarmed and the world is secure. No proof has been given that Iraq constitutes an imminent threat to the U.S. Military action at this time would not only be illegal, it would destabilize international order,” says Erik Gustafson, the Executive Director of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center.
For further information please contact:
Erik Gustafson, Executive Director of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center, 202-486-8231
Susan Wright, Biological weapons and policy expert, 734-763-1194
Roger Normand, Expert on international humanitarian law, 718-237-9145 x12
Charles Sheehan-Miles, Gulf War combat veteran, co-founder Vets for Common Sense, 703-668-0353