Open Letter to President George W. Bush Regarding a Possible War Against Iraq
March 7, 2003
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
We, the leaders of the undersigned women's rights organizations, request a meeting with you to discuss our concerns about a possible war against Iraq.
Violence often simply begets violence. Womenís groups have long favored non-violent, diplomatic means to resolve conflict, including international conflict.
Moreover, specifically in the case of Iraq, even if Saddam Hussein does possess weapons of mass destruction, CIA Director George Tenet has stated that Iraq is unlikely to use such weapons unless the United States launches a pre-emptive strike against it. Thus, far from making us safer, the rush to war against Iraq will likely increase the risk of terrorism against U.S. targets.
We are also concerned about the very high costs of a war against Iraq. There is no longer a federal budget surplus to fund this war, as tax cuts coupled with continuing economic weakness have pushed tax revenues down, resulting in budget deficits for the foreseeable future. We fear that, as has happened during previous wars, funds will be diverted from education, health, welfare and other vitally needed social programs whose budgets were already downsized. Women will bear the greatest burden of any decrease in domestic spending in order to finance war.
Even more troubling are the costs in human lives and suffering that war will cause. Our women and men in the armed forces, though they understand the risks of enlisting, should not be put in harmís way unnecessarily. Civilians in combat zones do not voluntarily take such risks. Women are often targeted for rape or torture in wartime. The killing and maiming of innocent people as well as the destruction of Iraq's physical and social infrastructure are inevitable in a massive pre-emptive military strike. For Iraqi women, the war carries the danger that their nation will degenerate into an even more militarized or extremist Iraq that dramatically could restrict womenís rights.
In addition, the United States has not yet fulfilled its promises in Afghanistan. The resources made available for security and reconstruction are still far short of the Marshall Plan that you pledged last year. Moreover, a pre-emptive attack against Iraq could further destabilize Afghanistan.
We are concerned, finally, about the damage to the United States' stature if it implements a pre-emptive strike against Iraq. The United States has been a world leader in promoting democracy, equality, and respect for human rights. We have exercised international leadership through multilateral coordination and co-operation. We urge you not to abandon this tradition.
With this letter, we are submitting to you a resolution opposed to a pre-emptive military attack against Iraq and request a meeting with you.
Business and Professional Women of the USA
Ms. Foundation for Women
National Council of Women's Organizations
National Organization for Women
NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund
Women's Action for New Directions
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom