A former U.S. attorney general and longtime liberal activist yesterday argued there was no justification for extending the war on terrorism to Iraq.
Ramsey Clark, a seasoned foe of U.S. foreign policy who served as attorney general during the Johnson administration, called on the Bush administration to instead lift the 11-year-old sanctions against Iraq that he said were responsible for the deaths of more than 1 million adults and children there.
“The sanctions have to end. They’re genocidal in themselves,” Mr. Clark told The Washington Times yesterday. “It’s hard to imagine how our own people can tolerate a policy that has led to so many deaths.”
Mr. Clark’s comments came after several members of the International Action Center which Mr. Clark founded held a news conference urging the president not to begin a military campaign against Iraq, a country the anti-war group says already has suffered through U.S.-imposed sanctions.
The United States imposed sanctions on Iraq after the country’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
Seated against a backdrop of posters that read, “War and Racism are not the answer,” and “Defend Civil Rights,” members of the IAC said a military attack on Iraq would further devastate a war-torn country where an estimated 1.5 million people have been killed and many more are malnourished and impoverished.
“A war would be a form of terrorism,” said Brian Becker, a coalition spokesman and one of several IAC members who belong to the Worker’s World Party (WWP).
The WWP is a Marxist organization with a record of supporting repressive communist regimes in Cuba, North Korea and elsewhere. Some party members have traveled to Africa, the Middle East and Europe in a campaign to end sanctions against Iraq.
“It is clear that whatever good our government had hoped to do has been surpassed by evil,” said the Rev. Thomas Gumbleton, auxiliary bishop with the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit and an IAC member. “We want the United States to promote dialogue to make it possible for Iraq to live.”
The IAC members urged the government to spend the money that would finance a potential war on Iraq to fund education and provide quality health care in the United States.
IAC members also said the United States should cut its economic ties with Israel, a country they contend uses U.S. funds to oppress Palestinians. They said U.S. policy toward Israel fuels “resentment and hatred” in other parts of the world and is partly to blame for the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
“Our tax dollars could be used to build schools and improve health care,” said Damu Smith, an official with Black Voices for Peace. “We urge the United States to cut its economic ties with Israel as long as it refuses to let up its occupation of Palestine. … We helped establish the conditions and context for people to make those attacks on us.”
To further drive home their opposition to war, the IAC is organizing a national anti-war march in Washington on April 27.
Mr. Clark has a long record of controversy. In the summer of 1972, he visited North Vietnam as a member of the Stockholm-based International Commission of Inquiry investigating claims of U.S. war crimes in Indochina.
In 1977, Mr. Clark intervened on behalf of CIA defector and self-avowed Marxist Philip Agee to fight deportation from Britain, calling the British deportation hearing an “utterly lawless proceeding.”
Mr. Clark also attended the 1980 International Conference to Investigate U.S. Intervention in Iran, sponsored by Iran’s revolutionary government and the Soviet front group, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.
He traveled to Managua, Nicaragua, in 1986 to observe the trial of American Eugene Hasenfus for smuggling supplies to the anti-communist Contra guerrillas. Mr. Hasenfus’ attorney labeled the trial a kangaroo court. Mr. Clark defended the tribunal because, he said, Nicaragua faced “war conducted by U.S. resources.”
In 1990, Mr. Clark organized the Coalition Against U.S. Intervention in the Middle East to protest America’s role in the Persian Gulf. During a rally that year, he called the former Bush administration “an imperial presidency as unrestrained as any military dictatorship that ever lived.”
Last month, Mr. Clark wrote a letter to the ambassador and foreign minister of each member of the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. General Assembly, demanding that the Security Council prohibit the United States from attacking Iraq.
“We’ve got to stop the violence,” Mr. Clark said. “How many children have to die because Saddam Hussein is a bad man?”