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|09/19/01 at 11:52:23|
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Science for Peace Statement - For Release Sept. 17, 2001
We share in the sorrow and the anger over the calculated killings in
America on September 11. Our thoughts are with those who lost family, friends or colleagues, whose lives have been forever scarred.
None of us can any longer doubt that terrorism is a dreadful reality and
a clear and present danger and more, much more, must be done about it.
But it is terribly important, and absolutely essential, that the grief
and the anger properly felt not be acted out in a way that would escalate and feed the violence that has already created this horror. Revenge, the lust for blood, is a human propensity that must be resolutely resisted in favour of reason.
"An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind" (Martin Luther King)
We must not mourn for a day and then, without pause, prepare for war. We
cannot in good faith both deplore violence and draw our guns. Declarations of war should never be the first and final option. Each time we hear the
word "war" we should say the word "peace".
In the present case, force does not make sense even at the practical
level. In the face of havoc, we could create even greater havoc, but then what? We have seen how terrorists can maim and murder with chilling efficiency with knives, box cutters and passenger planes. We have often been warned about vials of germs in knapsacks and nuclear weapons in suitcases. There is a brisk trade, a steady proliferation, an increased accessibility of arms of every description.
There is talk that the U.S. will strike at the Taliban in Afghanistan through Pakistan which, we read, could destabilize Pakistan which just happens to be nuclear-armed. Is it really in our most narrow of self-interest to escalate?
Whatever happened to political realism?
Such talk is already creating turmoil amongst the people of Afghanistan
who already subsist in dire circumstances. What is gained by adding to their misery?
There should be no retaliation such that the slaughter that happened on
September 11 leads to yet more and larger slaughters. Talk at the highest level in Washington of "no safe harbours" for terrorists, of "destroying their infrastructure", of "the full wrath of the United States of America", of "rid the world of evil doers" is chilling in its possible implications for innocent civilians who will be sacrificed in the name of "collateral damage." In the name of sanity, the killing must stop. "No political, social or ideological objective can justify mass murder in any part of the world" (The International Peace Bureau)
Justice must be done and can be done to those who carried out these mass murders in the United States. There must be concerted global action to find those who helped to organize these terrorist acts and bring them to
trial. Governments must agree that they will not offer haven to terrorists and
that they will face the opprobrium of the world if they do.
The world has worked to create the International Court of Justice and
there have been occasions, past and present, when special war crimes tribunals with police and judicial capabilities have been created. That is the
route that we must take this time.
To be truly committed to democracy and freedom is to insist on the rule
of law even in these most trying circumstances. "We cherish the force of
law, not the law of force." (Hague Appeal for Peace)
We understand why America's friends and allies, and Canada very much so, comfort America and comes to her aid, but we deplore manifesting this
support through NATO, which is fundamentally a military alliance, and
thereby risk, in this case, a blank cheque for massive and violent American reaction.
Nor does adding Russia, China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and every other
country one can, to a coalition against terrorism, necessarily help. The
first President Bush built such a coalition to fight the Gulf War, which left
thousands dead and fed the grievances and the hatred that may even have
contributed to the September 11 massacre. The United Nations exists to
bring countries together and we should avail ourselves of its peacekeeping and peacemaking roles at times like these.
The Canadian Government must not give its unconditional support to
whatever Washington chooses to do. Above all, we should not join in the
bombing or invasion of any country.
We are living, and dying, in the midst of a script being written in blood and to add "their" blood to ours changes nothing. This story did not begin on September 11 and it cannot "end" until its history is faced up to and there is a never-ending commitment to peaceful resolution.
Washington and its allies, with their vast leverage in the Middle East, must insist, finally, on the co-existence of Israel and Palestine.
Sanctions against Iraq have killed thousands of children, the truly innocent,and left an awful legacy. The misery, the despair, the hopelessness endemic in the refugee camps in so many places in the world, makes mockery of the talk about a borderless world and the glories of actually-existing globalization. Doing more for the dispossessed is not only a moral imperative. In an awful way, the materially "dispossessed" feed the fanatically "possessed".
Terrorists, whatever their motive and makeup, swim in an angry sea, riding a tide of resentment - and of revenge on their side - that is real as well as constructed. The wrongs were already there, calling out for redress, there is now a fresh urgency about dealing with them.
The peace movement is not simply anti-war. We want peace, justice and
respect for cultural, religious and racial diversity and we work actively for
President Bush says that good will prevail against evil and that America
stands for good, but there are problems with such language. We demonize
the terrorists, we label them madmen. Ironically, and dangerously, we talk about them the way they talk about us and we risk acting with the same
wanton disregard for our common humanity.
There is also a grave risk of a spillover into a hatred generally of Arabs and Muslims within the United States and Canada and the states of other allies. We must keep our own house in order.
We are profoundly saddened at the killing of Americans, as we are at the
killing of anyone anywhere, for all lives are equal, none being worth more than others.
The twentieth century, which we have barely escaped, has been accurately
called a butcher's block of a century. The mass killing of civilians became the common currency of war. Would that none of us could so easily list cases where more than 5,000 civilians have died violently. Horrible though September 11 was, there was slight novelty in what the terrorists did and no cause for us to pretend otherwise the better to justify a lethal response.
America and its allies have not escaped the fate of blood on their hands
and some of it "the Gulf War, the studied indifference to the genocide in
Rwanda" has barely dried.
American policy-makers and their allies must ask themselves what they have done that may have contributed to the extraordinary and frightening
hatred that underlay September 11. We are not blaming the victims - those who happened to board a particular flight, happened to work in a particular
place - and we are not offering apologies of any kind for the terrorists.
Rather, we are pleading that September 11 be put in a context where our
governments, and too many of us, have become far too indifferent to the desperate
plight of others.
The futility of wasting billions of dollars on a National Missile
Defence when a few millions might have made America's airports secure is evident
for all to see. Likewise the stupidity, the absurdity, of weaponizing
space so as to protect surveillance and information-gathering satellites
incapable of foreseeing September 11. Security is manifestly not to be found in
We insist that Canada not let itself be used as a conduit for terrorists
entering the United States, but we also insist that Canada be a safe haven for
refugees, and open to immigrants, and that the Canadian government be
prepared to allocate the funds necessary to meet both of these needs. We
owe Americans the best of protection, but we owe ourselves the right to
independent policies of our choosing.
We of the peace movement know all too well that times of war, and
impending war, when we believe we are most needed, is when we are least
likely to be heeded by the powerful. But in the midst of these fearful
events,we are encouraged by the numerous voices, of family and friends and
neighbours, saying much the same as ourselves.
We urge Canadians who share our concerns about the way our world is
evolving, who want justice to be done to terrorism but reject war, to
join us in communicating that to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign
Affairs, and their Member of Parliament.
Statement prepared by the Science for Peace Executive and issued Monday,
Sept. 17, 2001
Mel Watkins, Science for Peace President
Tel. 416-406-2486, email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
Phyllis Creighton, Science for Peace Executive Member
Tel. 416-481-7647, email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
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