As we write, Manhattan feels under siege, with all bridges, tunnels, and subways closed, and tens of thousands of people walking slowly north from Lower Manhattan. As we sit in our offices here at War Resisters League, our most immediate thoughts are of the hundreds if not thousands of New Yorkers who have lost their lives in the collapse of the World Trade Center. The day is clear, the sky is blue, but vast clouds billow over the ruins where so many have died, including a great many rescue workers who were there when the final collapse occurred.
Of course we know that our friends and co-workers in Washington, D.C. have similar thoughts about the ordinary people who have been trapped in the parts of the Pentagon which were also struck by a jet. And we think of the innocent passengers on the hi-jacked jets who were carried to their doom on this day. We do not know at this time from what source the attack came.
We do know that Yasser Arafat has condemned the bombing. We hesitate to make an extended analysis until more information is available but some things are clear. For the Bush Administration to talk of spending hundreds of billions on Star Wars is clearly the sham it was from the beginning, when terrorism can so easily strike through more routine means.
We urge Congress and George Bush that whatever response or policy the U.S. develops it will be clear that this nation will no longer target civilians, or accept any policy by any nation which targets civilians. This would mean an end to the sanctions against Iraq, which have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians. It would mean not only a condemnation of terrorism by Palestinians but also the policy of assassination against the Palestinian leadership by Israel, and the ruthless repression of the Palestinian population and the continuing occupation by Israel of the West Bank and Gaza.
The policies of militarism pursued by the United States have resulted in millions of deaths, from the historic tragedy of the Indochina war, through the funding of death squads in Central America and Colombia, to the sanctions and air strikes against Iraq. This nation is the largest supplier of conventional weapons in the world, and those weapons fuel the starkest kind of terrorism from Indonesia to Africa. The early policy support for armed resistance in Afghanistan resulted in the victory of the Taliban and the creation of Osama Bin Laden.
Other nations have also engaged in these policies. We have, in years past, condemned the actions of the Russian government in areas such as Chechnya, the violence on both sides in the Middle East, and in the Balkans. But our nation must take responsibility for its own actions. Up until now we have felt safe within our borders. To wake on a clear day to find our largest city under siege reminds us that in a violent world, none are safe. Let us seek an end of the militarism that has characterized this nation for decades.
Let us seek a world in which security is gained through disarmament, international cooperation, and social justice not through escalation and
retaliation. We condemn without reservation attacks such as those which occurred today, which strike at thousands of civilians. May these profound tragedies remind us of the impact U.S. policies have had on other civilians in other lands. We also condemn reflexive hostility against people of Arab descent living in this country and urge that Americans recall the part of our heritage that opposes bigotry in all forms.
We are one world. We shall live in a state of fear and terror or we shall move toward a future in which we seek peaceful alternatives to violence, and a more just distribution of the world1s resources. As we mourn the many lives lost, our hearts call out for reconciliation, not revenge.
This is not an official statement of the War Resisters League but was drafted immediately after the tragic events occurred. Signed and issued by members of the staff and Executive Committee of War Resisters League at the national office, September 11, 2001:
Judith Mahoney Pasternak
Contact: David McReynolds, 212-674-7268
Joanne Sheehan, 860-889-5337
War Resisters League, 212-228-0450
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Frauennetzwerk für Frieden e.V.
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