Northern Virginia Ethical Society

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Iraq War: Opposing Preemptive Military Action
The membership of the Northern Virginia Ethical Society adopted the following statement concerning the possibility of war in Iraq, before that war began. The vote was 47 votes for adopting the statement, 4 votes against, and 2 abstaining.

NoVES Statement on the Possibility of War with Iraq

In considering the possibility of the proposed preemptive military action by the United States government against Iraq, a substantial majority of the members of the Northern Virginia Ethical Society are in agreement with the statement that follows. However, we recognize and respect the diversity of views among our members on this issue. We encourage our members, whether or not they agree with the majority opinion set forth below, to share their views and act on their principles as we all participate in the ongoing national debate on this issue.

A central commitment of the members of Northern Virginia Ethical Society is to the importance of building a more humane world. Yet the world situation that we face today threatens that goal. Answers are not simple. Terrorist actions and governments like that of Saddam Hussein are clearly threats to security and humane living.

War is always a human catastrophe. It can only be justified, if at all, when a clear and compelling case can be made that there are no alternatives short of war for averting an even worse catastrophe. The case that has been made to date to justify attacking Iraq has not met this standard.

While Saddam Hussein is clearly a ruthless dictator, and one who is at least a potential threat to world peace, ruthless and threatening dictators have been successfully dealt with in the past without attacking them. No convincing case has been made for war that would justify the casualties and suffering among Iraqi citizens -- especially children --that may occur in the event of military action, as well as the inevitable casualties among U.S. military personnel.

Further, the occurrence of civilian casualties resulting from an American invasion will likely increase the number of radicalized Muslims ready to join Al Qaeda. No convincing case has been made that an American invasion would make the US and the world less vulnerable to terrorism than before.

For the above reasons, the majority of the members of the Northern Virginia Ethical Society wish to go on record in opposing preemptive military action against Iraq. We also urge our government to work through the U.N. Security Council and in cooperation with our traditional NATO allies toward developing policies and programs which have broad international support. We should reach out to the international community to ensure that our power and influence are tempered by the best common judgment.