Manhattan under siege
War Resisters League:
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 occured.
Of course we know 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 of 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 cool 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 which 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 occured 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 are particularly aware of the fear which many people of Middle Eastern descent, living in this country, may feel at this time and urge special consideration for this community.
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 conflict and a more just distribution of the world's 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 occured. Signed and issued by the staff and Executive Committee of War Resisters Leauge in the national office, September 11, 2001.