Former presidents Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Jimmy Carter of the United States added their voices to the millions demanding that George W. Bush halt his drive toward war against Iraq and give the UN inspectors time to complete their work.

The two Nobel Peace Prize winners spoke out against war on the eve of Sec. of State Colin Powell’s appearance before the UN Security Council seeking authorization to invade the oil-rich nation. Powell failed in his 90-minute speech to sway the Security Council. A clear majority backed continued inspections and a peaceful resolution (see page 12 editorial).

Mandela told the International Women’s Forum in Johannesburg, Jan. 30., “What I am condemning is that one power, with a president who has no foresight and cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust.”

Carter said, “Despite marshalling powerful armed forces in the Persian Gulf region and a virtual declaration of war in the State of the Union message our government has not made a case for a preemptive military strike against Iraq.”

Instead of war, Carter said, “the most obvious answer is a sustained and enlarged inspection team, deployed as a permanent entity. … The cost of an on-site (UN) inspection team would be miniscule compared to war, Saddam would have no choice except to comply, the results would be certain, military and civilian casualties would be avoided, and the United States would regain its leadership in combating the real threat of international terrorism.”

Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) sent a letter to Bush Jan. 24 cosigned by 144 of his House colleagues urging Bush to abide by the UN Security Council resolution 1441 unanimously approved last Nov. 8. It requires Iraq to give up weapons of mass destruction and provide “immediate, unconditional, and unrestricted access” for UN weapons inspectors. “We believe the U.S. should make every attempt to achieve Iraq’s disarmament through diplomatic means and with the full support of our allies in accordance with the process articulated in UN Security Council resolution 1441,” the letter states.

The Internet group, Moveon.org, has already sent to all Senators and Representatives, as well as UN Sec.-Gen. Kofi Annan and Bush, more than 300,000 e-mail petitions with the message, “Let the inspections work!” Moveon.org spokesperson, Joan Blades told the World that 10,000 members of Moveon.org visited home offices of virtually every member of Congress the week of Jan. 21 to deliver the petitions. “It is urgent that we keep the petitions coming,” she said. “The more people speak out for peace, the more we can make our voices heard.”

On Capitol Hill, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Senators Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.) introduced resolutions to repeal the authorization for military force approved by Congress last Oct. 16. Speaking at a news conference Jan. 21, Lee pointed out that the Oct. 16 resolution was approved “prior to the deployment of United Nations inspectors in Iraq, and at a time when the current nuclear crisis in North Korea had not reached its present level of dangerous tension.”

Her resolution, she said, “seeks to repeal Public Law 107-243 in order to ensure that Congress is afforded the opportunity to re-examine the threat posed by Iraq. Taking the time to deliberate more intelligently in no way diminishes the valor of our troops. To the contrary, because we love and support our young men and women … they deserve our fullest efforts to keep them out of harm’s way.”

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said, “While the burden to disarm falls upon Iraq, the burden to prove the threat posed by Iraq falls upon the (Bush) administration … the administration has failed to make a case for a preemptive attack on Iraq.”

Kennedy made his peace appeal in responding to Bush’s State of the Union address. “I’m concerned that what we heard last night was not only a ‘go-it-alone’ foreign policy but a ‘you’re-on-your-own’ policy at home,” said Kennedy. “Instead of rushing down the path to war with Iraq, the American people deserve a full debate. Putting American lives at risk is the most solemn responsibility of our government. That’s why I intend to introduce a resolution to require the president to come back to Congress and present convincing evidence of an imminent threat before we send troops to war with Iraq.”

Byrd accused Bush of “a personal crusade” to overthrow Saddam Hussein “and in his zeal to pursue his goal, he has failed to make the case to the American people and to our allies abroad …” Other Senate sponsors of the resolution include Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both of California, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, Paul Sarbanes of Maryland, all Democrats.

Lisa Kinard, an aide to Rep. Lee, told the World the “sense of Congress” resolution is now pending before the International Affairs Committee with 10 cosponsors. “We are trying to get as many co-sponsors as we can,” Kinard said. “Congresswoman Lee’s aim is to get the debate going and slow the rush to war. There are no Republican sponsors yet but we do consider this a bipartisan effort.”

The author can be reached at greenerpastures21212@yahoo.com

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