The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) opposes the use of U.S. military force in response to the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Inevitably, the use of military force will place at risk the lives of innocent civilians who had nothing to do with the attacks of September 11th and most of whom are already suffering from oppression and poverty. The use of U.S. military force will only give the people who committed these crimes what they want. Scholars and analysts suggest that one of the prime motivations for the attacks was likely a desire for a strong U.S. military counter-reaction. A U.S.-led war in Central Asia will reinforce for many in the region the perception that the U.S. cares little for the innocent people (mostly Muslims) who are caught in the middle of its "war against terrorism," and U.S. military retaliation will likely be used by those who would organize future acts of terror as further "proof" that the U.S. is an enemy of Islam.
Many ask, if not military force and war, then what should the U.S. do instead to respond to these horrific attacks against innocent civilians? The U.S. must not sacrifice its core values in the process of defending them from acts of terror. Rather, the U.S. should demonstrate its enduring commitment to freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in the ways it responds to these acts of terror and pursues justice.
For example, we recommend that the U.S. government:
1. Mobilize and lead law enforcement agencies around the world to investigate, apprehend, and bring to justice those responsible to the full extent of U.S. and international law. In response to earlier bombing attacks against Pan Am flight 103, U.S. embassies in Africa, and the World Trade Center, U.S. law enforcement officials worked closely with law enforcement agencies in countries around the world to identify, apprehend, and prosecute the perpetrators of those attacks. To advance international cooperation to stop terrorism, the U.S. Senate should immediately ratify and implement the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombing.
2. Preserve civil liberties, maintain full public accountability of U.S. governing institutions, and protect vulnerable minorities in the U.S. from hate crimes and harassment, particularly against Arab-Americans, Muslims, and others.
3. Lead the United Nations in cooperative action to interrupt and seize the financial resources that support these criminal terror networks. To support this effort, the U.S. Senate should promptly ratify and implement the International Convention on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.
4. Lead the United Nations in bringing diplomatic, political, and economic pressure to bear against the governing regimes of nations that give support or shelter to terror networks. If international sanctions are applied, they should be focused narrowly on those in political power.
5. Respond with compassion and generous aid to the suffering of the innocent peoples in Iraq, the Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries, even if their governments are found to support terror networks. For example, shower Afghanistan with humanitarian aid, not bombs.
6. Resume and intensify U.S. efforts to secure a just and lasting peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a major source of deep anti-U.S. sentiment throughout the Arab world.
7. Lead the international community in cooperative efforts to reduce stockpiles of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and materials in the U.S., Russia, and elsewhere and to guard against unauthorized use. Support increased funding for the "Nunn-Lugar" threat reduction initiative.
8. Support an international ban on the sale and transfer of weapons to zones of conflict. Weapons sales and transfers increase acts of violence, suffering, and the collapse of civil society institutions. The U.S. is the world's largest exporter of weapons. It should not export weapons to regimes that are undemocratic and violate human rights.
9. Dramatically increase U.S. humanitarian aid to refugees in zones of conflict, now numbering in the millions. War orphans, refugee children, and youth are especially vulnerable to recruitment by terrorist organizations. This is of special concern today in Afghanistan and Central Asia.
10. Assist individuals and families in the U.S. who have lost wage earners or jobs as a result of the attack and its economic aftermath.
WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER
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