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Letter to Prime Minister Helen Clark

10 December 2002

Prime Minister Helen Clark,
Parliament Buildings,

10 December 2002

Dear Helen Clark,

We were very pleased to note that in Phil Goff's press release of 22/11/02, reporting on his discussion on Iraq with the United States Chargé d'Affairs, Philip Wall, he stated that New Zealand's stance is that force should be used only as a last resort.

We are glad also that he mentioned the potential loss of innocent lives and the potential destabalising of the Middle East should military means be used. These are essential points to make and we greatly appreciate his stating an independent New Zealand view, as opposed to a conciliatory one towards the United States.

There are two further points at issue that particularly concern us.

1. The way in which the United States uses the United Nations, particularly the Security Council, as a tool to get what it wants.

2. The United States threats of attacking Iraq whether or not the weapons inspectors find any illegal weapons. Mr. Bush's top security adviser, Dr Richard Perle recently insisted that a "clean bill of health" from United Nations chief weapons inspector Hans Blix would not halt America's war machine.

Regarding 1 above; we would argue as follows and recommend:

In order to secure the Security Council's authorisation to use "all necessary means" to evict the Iraqi forces from Kuwait, the United States used undue pressure on member states. This, in our view, made the Security Council's decision invalid.

on the surface it seems as if the French, along with other members of the council, have simply "caved in" to the US/UK drive to war with Iraq and that the resolution gave the United States the authority it sought to launch a unilateral war against Iraq anytime it wished.

With regard to UNSCR 2441 setting the terms under which the weapons inspectors have returned to Iraq, we are aware that all of the members of the Security Council expressed significantly different interpretations of their "yes" than those claimed by the US. So that there is nearly wall-to-wall support for tough inspections on Iraq .

There is also an insistence that the US must not short-circuit the diplomatic process now underway.

We recognise that the United States has been obliged to engage in multilateral negotiation. In this sense, the Security Council has succeeded, thus far, in asserting the centrality of its role in a process that requires multiple partners.

We are hopeful that the individual members of the United Nations are becoming more determined to uphold the Charter.

We remember though the present United States regime's view of itself as the world's only super power, its record of using its weight to gain its way, and the fact that most of the non-permanent members of the Security Council can be put under the pressure of withdrawal of United States money.

We strongly urge the New Zealand government to examine very carefully the process by which Security Council agreement to any future attack is reached, if that situation eventuates, before committing any support at all for further military action against Iraq. We could find ourselves responding to an invalid resolution, and therefore guilty of war crimes. We could also be judged guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity should we join in any military action that, as happened in 1991, far exceeded any notion of proportionality.

We encourage the New Zealand government to be strong in its commitment to upholding the spirit and letter of the United Nations Charter.

With regard to 2 above; we would argue as follows and recommend:

We are appalled that The National Security Strategy released in September by the Bush administration calls for permanent United States dominance not just globally, but within every region of the globe. It also calls for United States pre-emptive attack of any nation that might rise to threaten that dominance, either regionally or globally. It calls too for United Sates control of Middle East oil.

We ask that the New Zealand government not support in any way the United States in any unilateral military actions they are contemplating taking against Iraq.

We recommend that New Zealand speak out, strongly, in the United Nations and any other fora, against such a United States attitude.

We have been leaders in the past in taking significant strides towards a more peaceful world. It is our opinion that the time is ripe to do that again.

Tony Maturin,
For Quaker Peace and Service, Aotearoa / New Zealand

Stop killing the people of Iraq


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