[Last update: 19 October 2002]

Statement of NOW Action Vice President Olga Vives

NOW Press Office
202-628-8669 Rebecca Farmer, x 116
202-785-8576 (fax)
Feminists and Other Activists Say No to War on Iraq

October 10, 2002

Statement of NOW Action Vice President Olga Vives

On the eve of the Congressional vote on whether to take military action in Iraq, the National Organization for Women stands with a diverse coalition of leaders from the religious, academic, business and labor communities to demand peace. Congress must reassert the integrity of our country's foreign policy by voting down a dangerous resolution that would give the Bush-Cheney administration broad authority for "pre-emptive strikes" against Iraq and any other country they believe may act against U.S. interests.

The White House's all-out push for military aggression against Iraq shamefully exploits the supposed "war" on terror. The war rhetoric is particularly incomprehensible when we look at the facts. The White House has failed to show that war is the only way at this time to deal with Saddam Hussein. It has also failed to demonstrate that Hussein aided and abetted Al-Qaeda's September 11 attacks. Iraq has offered to readmit U.N. inspectors, but Bush seems to have his fingers in his ears, refusing to listen to anything contrary to what he wants to hear. The Administration should pursue the U.N. inspections to avoid further alienation from our allies, as well as the loss of life and the enormous monetary cost that would result from military action. Against Bush's incessant, senseless demands for war, Congress must uphold our country's tradition of international leadership through multilateral coordination and cooperation.

We know that women would be disproportionately affected if Congress gives Bush a blank check to invade Iraq with a unilateral, preemptive strike. As has happened during previous wars, funds will be diverted from education, health, welfare and other vitally needed social programs from an already downsized budget. Women will bear the greatest burden of any decrease in domestic spending in order to finance war.

For Iraqi women, the war carries the danger that their nation will degenerate into an even more militarized society. We know all too well how such an extreme militarized culture in Afghanistan gave rise to a life of violence and oppression for women there. A U.S. invasion of Iraq will likely entail similar dangers to the safety and rights of Iraqi women—who currently enjoy more rights and freedoms than women in other Gulf nations, such as Saudi Arabia.

Bush's tunnel vision focus in declaring war against Iraq is heartless and blood-thirsty—but it also furthers his political agenda. This administration has already drastically enlarged defense spending, displacing domestic social services and the nation's healthcare safety net to support a large-scale military deployment and protracted military engagement abroad.

At this crossroads in our country's history, it falls to Congress to do what the Bush-Cheney administration is unwilling or unable to do: put aside political gain, act with integrity and exercise true leadership. Vote no on this war resolution.

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