[saymaListserv] Message to Iraqi Nat'l Assembly

Mary Calhoun moriah at preferred.com
Wed Sep 25 16:57:44 JEST 2002

Dear Representative Rahall,

Thank you! -- thank you for your action in going to Iraq, and for the
words you said there.  I most earnestly hope that what you're attempting
to start will bear fruit.  I have taken the liberty of appending below
your message to the Iraqi National Assembly, so that it can be read by
other Friends (Quakers) on our list-server.


Mary Calhoun
member, Foxfire Friends Meeting of the Holston Valley (Johnson City, TN)
    SAYMA (Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association,
    an affiliation of Friends meetings in Tennessee, Kentucky,
    West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama,
    and Mississippi)


Message to the Iraqi National Assembly

September 15, 2002

[Congressman Nick Rahall is a thirteen-term representative for West
Virginia's Third District.  He took  the trip to Iraq in the company of
former South Dakota Senator James Abourezk, as part of a delegation
organized by the Institute for Public Accuracy.]

Copyright  2002 The Nation

I want to thank you for the traditional Iraqi hospitality that our
delegation has received since coming to Baghdad.

We are all aware of the grave crisis presently facing our two countries,
the United States and Iraq. I am concerned about the effects that a new
war would have on both our countries. For that reason I come as an
advocate of peace through dialogue.

Ours is a humanitarian mission. I come, not as the Secretary of State,
and not as a weapons inspector, but as a member of Congress concerned
with peace. Basically, I want America and Iraq to give peace a chance.

A few days ago, the former head of the United Nations oil-for-food
program, Denis Halliday, commented on the independent American
delegation of which I am a part. Mr. Halliday is a former UN Assistant
Secretary General. On September 12, he said: "Any dialogue between the
US and Iraq is good and, with current and former lawmakers, it is even
better." Mr. Halliday added: "Open-minded dialogue would prove war to be

Instead of assuming that war must come, let us find ways to discover how
to prove that war is unnecessary.

A key to this terrible box that we're now locked in--is dialogue.

I would also like to quote Edward Peck, an American diplomat who is a
former chief of mission to Iraq. Mr. Peck pointed out: "You lose nothing
when you talk, but the failure to do so in this case may cost us

Mr. Peck encouraged this delegation from the United States, which
includes: former United States Senator James Abourezk; James Jennings,
president of Conscience International; and Norman Solomon, executive
director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

We are here to try and help open doors. Doors to genuine dialogue.

It is time and, in my opinion, far past time that American and Iraqi
officials talk to each other without threats.

We want to open doors to possibilities that will protect life instead of
maiming and killing.

Doors that will give peace a chance.

We've had far too much heated rhetoric between our two countries.
Another war in this region would be greatly damaging. Any new war would
be a war against public health, and also against the environment.

Iraq is the cradle of civilization. We do not wish to see civilization
strangled in its cradle.

Iraq was once the Garden of Eden. Humanity must not turn the Garden of
Eden into Hell.

The evidence from the last war is quite compelling:
 degradation of the infrastructure;
 a wrecked economy;
 shocking escalation of infant mortality and communicable disease, and
many other negative health indicators for the entire population.

We do not wish to see this devastation repeated.

In this context, I am reminded of what Dwight Eisenhower, the great US
general and President, once said: "Every gun and rocket that is fired,
every warship launched, signifies, in a final sense, a theft from those
who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The
world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of
its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."

Our delegation does not want to see a new war in Iraq. We do not
subscribe to the "Clash of Civilizations" thesis which foresees nothing
but war between the predominantly Islamic countries and the West.

I hope that my colleagues in the United States Congress will perceive
that peaceful dialogue is a more fruitful avenue than the awful road of
perpetual warfare.

I must say, however, that I believe the first step to restoring a
relationship of mutual friendship and respect must be for Iraq to fully
comply with United Nations mandates by allowing the return of weapons
inspectors. That step would at least give pause to the crisis that
threatens to engulf us.

Then, over the next weeks and months, the participation of the
international community may have an opportunity to succeed in defusing
the crisis altogether. Perhaps this could be done by finding a
combination of specific nations not directly involved in the dispute to
serve as "honest brokers." Perhaps, for instance, Canada and South

But time is now terribly short to reverse the momentum toward war. To
make that reversal possible, Iraq must cooperate by giving UN weapons
inspectors unfettered access. And in that process, "honest brokers" and
the UN as an institution must proceed differently than UNSCOM did, so
that next time there will be no abuses, and there will be no misuse of
UN inspectors for espionage (as belatedly admitted by US officials
themselves and authoritatively reported by the New York Times and other
media outlets in early January of 1999). If this work proceeds properly,
Iraq will be able to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Then the sanctions, which have done so much damage to your economy,
infrastructure, and health can once and for all be lifted.

The Middle East, and Iraq in particular, is a place of enduring cultural
richness. It is the home of the world's oldest civilizations. Iraq has
bequeathed to the world three great religious traditions Judaism,
Christianity and Islam. This is our heritage, and the world's heritage.

The Christian scriptures say "Blessed are the peacemakers." They do not
say "Blessed are the warmongers." I happen to believe that the vast
majority of the American people do not want to wage war, but would
rather wage peace.

Our delegation is here on behalf of peace. We believe that a new war is
not only unnecessary, but wrong.

I must again emphasize, however, that in my view and in the view of many
of my colleagues, the way to avoid war and to secure peace is to allow
UN inspectors into Iraq. The matter is urgent, and I therefore urge your
government to implement all relevant Security Council resolutions
without delay.

Speaking personally, I will encourage my colleagues in the Congress to
enter into dialogue with the Iraq National Assembly for the future
benefit of both our nations.


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