Americans say NO to preemptive war

April 1, 2003

WASHINGTON Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) told a protest rally in San Francisco a few weeks ago that George W. Bush has awakened a sleeping giant, the worldwide movement to stop his doctrine of unilateral, preemptive war on Iraq.

In that doctrine, Bush and his minions proclaim the right to attack and invade nations that they assert may at some future time pose an imminent threat to the United States. The doctrine asserts the U.S. prerogative of regime change to remove leaders of other countries and install governments subject to U.S. diktat.

Without proof linking Iraq to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks or proof that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, Bush unleashed a preemptive war on Iraq March 19 in defiance of the United Nations Security Council, international law, and world public opinion.

The peace movement was not shocked and awed into silence when the bombs started flying. Instead, millions are marching for peace here and around the world. The demand is: Stop the bombing! Stop the killing! Bring the troops home!

We reprint here two documents of crucial importance in the struggle against the war and for an end to the Bush doctrine. The first document is Rep. Lees House Resolution 141 that would put the House of Representatives on record against preemptive war. This resolution, co-sponsored by members of the Congressional Black, Hispanic and Progressive caucuses, should be immediately enacted by the House and Senate.

We urge readers to contact their representatives and senators and to organize delegations to their offices from their churches, unions, and neighborhoods to demand that they sign on as endorsers of the Lee resolution.

The second is a statement, slightly abridged, by Win Without War, an umbrella group of major religious, civil rights, environmental, and community organizations with a combined membership of many millions. Released the day after war was unleashed, it calls for burying this [Bush] doctrine in Iraq.

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Lawmakers stand against Bush doctrine


1st Session

H. RES. 141

Disavowing the doctrine of preemption in the House of Representatives.

March 12, 2003

Ms. LEE (for herself, Mr. CONYERS, Mr. MCDERMOTT, Ms. WATERS, Mrs. JONES of Ohio, Ms. WOOLSEY, Mr. SERRANO, Mr. FILNER, Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas, Mr. KUCINICH, Ms. WATSON, Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California, Mr. STARK, Mr. PAYNE, Mr. OWENS, and Mr. JACKSON of Illinois) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on International Relations


Disavowing the doctrine of preemption.

Whereas President Bush has declared in a variety of documents and fora that the United States has the right to unilaterally exercise military action, including preemptive nuclear strikes, against nations that have not attacked the United States, creating what has been termed the doctrine of preemption;

Whereas the doctrine of preemption contemplates initiating warfare against a nation that might not pose an imminent threat of harm to the United States and far exceeds the commonly understood view, set out in the Charter of the United Nations and recognized in international and United States law, that nations enjoy the right of self-defense, and that such self-defense might include undertaking military action to prevent an imminent attack;

Whereas the doctrine of preemption represents a radical departure from the official position of the United States since the adoption of the Charter of the United Nations;

Whereas the doctrine of preemption threatens to set a dangerous precedent that might then be cited by other countries, including other nuclear powers, to justify preemptive military action against perceived threats;

Whereas United States policy has long recognized the value to our national security of advancing the respect for and adherence to the international rule of law;

Whereas actions that diminish the international consensus on normative legal behavior and leave open the prospect that nations will readily resort to military force outside of those normative boundaries increase international instability and undercut the national security interests of the United States;

Whereas the doctrine of preemption contradicts the Charter of the United Nations to which the United States is a signatory, which, as a result of its ratification by the United States, is incorporated into United States law, and which reads, in part, All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations (Article 2, section 4);

Whereas the Charter of the United Nations, while disallowing preventive war , does not preclude military actions of self-defense, reading in part, Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security (Article 51); and

Whereas under the United States Constitution, the President, as Commander in Chief, possesses the authority to use military force to protect the United States from attack or imminent attack: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That

(1) it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States possesses the inherent right to defend itself against imminent or actual attack, as codified in the Charter of the United Nations and embodied in the traditions of international law, but that right does not extend to undertaking military action in the absence of such an imminent or actual attack; and

(2) the House of Representatives disavows the doctrine of preemption because it poses a threat to international law and to the national security interests of the United States.

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A statement by Win Without War

Statement of Win Without War (slightly abridged) on the American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, given at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C., on March 19.

Win Without War remains steadfastly opposed to the Bush doctrine of preemptive attack and the reckless use of military power. We are committed to burying this doctrine in Iraq. It is only through respect for international law, our international allies and the United Nations that we can hope to successfully address our most serious international challenges including international terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, North Korea, Iran, India-Pakistan, etc.

Win Without War supports our men and women in uniform. We hope and pray for their safe return as we hope and pray for the innocent men, women and children of Iraq.

We are deeply concerned that according to United Nations and U.S.-based relief organizations, the United States is woefully unprepared for what could become a humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq. …

This invasion has isolated the United States and galvanized world public opinion against our government at a time when we can least afford it. Unlike the Gulf War of 1991 where our allies paid for 90 percent of its costs, Americans will now be required to shoulder the burden of this unnecessary war a price that will drive up our already skyrocketing deficit and put yet more pressure on our fragile economy. The administration continues to refuse to level with the American people about the costs that Americans will be required to bear and the risks of an invasion and long term-occupation of Iraq.

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Win Without War calls on Americans to sign a citizens declaration against the preemptive war. You can sign the declaration by going to

The declaration reads: As a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq begins, we, the undersigned citizens of many countries, reaffirm our commitment to addressing international conflicts through the rule of law and the United Nations. By joining together across countries and continents, we have emerged as a new force for peace. As we grieve for the victims of this war, we pledge to redouble our efforts to put an end to the Bush administrations doctrine of preemptive attack and the reckless use of military power.

Win Without War members include: Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, MoveOn, NAACP, National Council of Churches, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, National Organization for Women, Oxfam America, Sierra Club, The Tikkun Community, United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society.


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