A letter to Jimmy Carter
Sean Gonsalves - Cape Cod Times

Dear Mr. Carter: Let me begin with a belated congratulations on your being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. As you noted in your book, Negotiation: The Alternative to Hostility, it’s important to understand THAT PEACE IS IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT JUSTICE. And justice is a two-way street, which means that the “war on terrorism” should not be about just us.

A STUDY OF THE JUST WAR TRADITION reveals that, though the criteria for it varies slightly among scholars, there are SEVEN basic requirements that must be met in order for a war to be considered just.

A just war must: 1) have a just cause; 2) BE WAGED BY A LEGITIMATE AUTHORITY; 3) be formally declared; 4) be fought with peaceful intentions; 5) be used as a last resort; 6) have a likelihood of success; and 7) use means proportionate to the ends. I only have room in this space to briefly address three.

A “just war” must have a just cause. It’s extremely difficult, especially with regards to Iraq, to show a clear cause. The idea that Saddam is solely to blame (though he bears major responsibility and must be held accountable) because he has violated international law is overly simplistic and in some aspects is downright dishonest. We have allies that are in violation of international law, including the unpleasant fact that Israel, with its nukes, is in violation of resolution 687, which not only called for Iraq to disarm but for the Middle East to be a “weapons of mass destruction-free zone.” While ignored in most analysis, the rest of the world, particularly the Muslim world, is acutely aware of this double-standard.

A “just war” must be fought with a peaceful intention. If truth and justice are inextricably linked to peace, then it’s hard to swallow the war-is-our-only-option view. For example, Saddam is repeatedly accused of “gassing his own people,” a vague reference to the horrible atrocities committed against the Kurds in 1988. But, not only did U.S. policymakers continue to send Saddam’s regime bio-chemical agents until 1989, according to Patrick Tyler of the New York Times, our government provided intelligence and planning assistance in chemical weapons attacks against Iranians during the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s.

And even a year after reports began to surface in 1983 that Iraq was using chemical weapons against Iran, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld hand-delivered a letter to Saddam from President Reagan reestablishing diplomatic relations with the “beast of Baghdad” in 1984.

Anyone familiar with the violently fractious relationship between Saddam’s regime and Iraq’s Kurdish population knows that phrases like “Saddam gassed his own people” is like saying Andrew Jackson committed genocide on his own people in his war against Native Americans.

While there is a grain of truth to the charge, it’s simply dishonest to accuse a government of killing its “own people” when those people are taking up arms to establish an autonomous region WITHIN THE GOVERNMENT'S SOVEREIGN BORDERS.

If some black paramilitary outfit in America were engaged in guerrilla warfare to acquire territory in the United States, the government would mercilessly crush the revolt with broad public support. And if some foreign superpower was threatening to invade the United States, making the argument that the president killed “his own people,” this misrepresentation of the fact would be held up for ridicule by any thinking American.

A “just war” must be a last resort. If democracy and the liberation of the Iraqi people were truly the intention for the “realist” hawks, then why isn’t Troy Davis’ idea being discussed much more widely? Davis proposes that we support a Constitutional Convention inviting legitimate leaders of Iraqi opposition groups with real ties to the people inside Iraq to set up a government-in-exile and let that body decide on what a post-Saddam Iraq ought to be.

Now, when the IRA was committing terrorist bombings in London, Western leaders weren’t calling for the bombing of Belfast or Boston where the IRA got some of its financial support. And when the Oklahoma City bombing happened, no one was calling for the bombing of Idaho and Montana where militia groups have set up their “safe havens.”

I’m writing you to suggest a simple but extremely risky maneuver, Mr. Carter. I’d bet if you called up the pope and perhaps Muhammed Ali and you all agreed to go to various parts of Iraq to serve as human shields, vowing not to leave until a peaceful settlement can be reached, it would throw a big monkey wrench in the unyielding Bush administration war plans.

Me? I would go. But if I got blown to smithereens, besides my family and loved ones, no one would care. In fact, some readers of this column would undoubtedly cheer.

Thank you for your prayerful consideration. Time is running out.

(c) 2003, Cape Cod Times URL: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemID=14580


By Jimmy Carter

New York Times| Op-Ed, Sunday 08 March 2003

ATLANTA -- Profound changes have been taking place in American foreign policy, reversing consistent bipartisan commitments that for more than two centuries have earned our nation greatness. These commitments have been predicated on basic religious principles, respect for international law, and alliances that resulted in wise decisions and mutual restraint. Our apparent determination to launch a war against Iraq, without international support, is a violation of these premises.

AS A CHRISTIAN AND AS A PRESIDENT who was severely provoked by international crises, I became thoroughly familiar with the principles of a just war, and it is clear that a substantially unilateral attack on Iraq does not meet these standards. This is an almost universal conviction of religious leaders, with the most notable exception of a few spokesmen of the Southern Baptist Convention who are greatly influenced by their commitment to Israel based on eschatological, or final days, theology.

For a war to be just, it must meet several clearly defined criteria.

THE WAR CAN BE WAGED ONLY AS A LAST RESORT, WITH ALL NONVIOLENT OPTIONS EXHAUSTED. In the case of Iraq, it is obvious that clear alternatives to war exist. These options -- previously proposed by our own leaders and approved by the United Nations -- were outlined again by the Security Council on Friday. But now, with OUR OWN NATIONAL SECURITY not directly threatened and despite the overwhelming opposition of most people and governments in the world, the United States seems determined to carry out military and diplomatic action that is almost unprecedented in the history of civilized nations. The first stage of our widely publicized war plan is to launch 3,000 bombs and missiles on a relatively defenseless Iraqi population within the first few hours of an invasion, with the purpose of so damaging and demoralizing the people that they will change their obnoxious leader, who will most likely be hidden and safe during the bombardment.

The war's weapons must discriminate between combatants and noncombatants. Extensive aerial bombardment, even with precise accuracy, inevitably results in "collateral damage." Gen. Tommy R. Franks, commander of American forces in the Persian Gulf, has expressed concern about many of the military targets being near hospitals, schools, mosques and private homes.

Its violence must be proportional to the injury we have suffered. Despite Saddam Hussein's other serious crimes, American efforts to tie Iraq to the 9/11 terrorist attacks have been unconvincing.

The attackers must have legitimate authority sanctioned by the society they profess to represent. The unanimous vote of approval in the Security Council to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction can still be honored, but our announced goals are now to achieve regime change and to establish a Pax Americana in the region, perhaps occupying the ethnically divided country for as long as a decade. For these objectives, we do not have international authority. Other members of the Security Council have so far resisted the enormous economic and political influence that is being exerted from Washington, and we are faced with the possibility of either a failure to get the necessary votes or else a veto from Russia, France and China. Although Turkey may still be enticed into helping us by enormous financial rewards and partial future control of the Kurds and oil in northern Iraq, its democratic Parliament has at least added its voice to the worldwide expressions of concern.

The peace it establishes must be a clear improvement over what exists. Although there are visions of peace and democracy in Iraq, it is quite possible that the aftermath of a military invasion will destabilize the region and prompt terrorists to further jeopardize our security at home. Also, by defying overwhelming world opposition, the United States will undermine THE UNITED NATIONS AS A VIABLE INSTITUTION FOR WORLD PEACE.

What about America's world standing if we don't go to war after such a great deployment of military forces in the region? The heartfelt sympathy and friendship offered to America after the 9/11 attacks, even from formerly antagonistic regimes, has been largely dissipated; increasingly unilateral and domineering policies have brought international trust in our country to its lowest level in memory. American stature will surely decline further if we launch a war in clear defiance of the United Nations. But to use the presence and threat of our military power to force Iraq's compliance with all United Nations resolutions -- with war as a final option -- will enhance our status as a champion of peace and justice.

The words of his mouth are smoother than butter, but war is in his heart. His words are softer than oil, yet they are drawn swords...(Psalm 55:21).


I would to God that you could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.

For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached (a capitalist Jesus; an "American" Jesus who seeks the praise of men, and who seeks to elevate himself to places of authority in the midst of men; a Jesus who rules the earth from Washington, or from the United Nations), or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received (from us), or another gospel (Ephesians 6:15), which ye had not (previously) accepted, ye might bear with him...(2 Corinthians 11:1-4).


We have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

But if our gospel (the gospel of Peace) be hid, it is hid from them that are lost.

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the Light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them...(2 Corinthians 4:4).


My soul is among lions...even the sons of men whose teeth are as spears and arrows, and their tongue like a sharp sword...(Psalm 57:4).

Their Feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, wasting and destruction are in their paths.

THEY WAYS OF PEACE THEY KNOW NOT, and there is no judgment in their goings; they have made them crooked paths (Hebrews 12:13,14); whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace...(Isaiah 59:7,8).


Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that friendship with the world (with the world that is coming to its conclusion--with the world that God is in the very process of destroying) is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Do you think the scriptures saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace unto the humble.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the Devil (Matthew 4:1-11), and he will flee from you...(James 4:1-7).


Dear President Carter,

Over the weekend, you were quoted in the Columbus Ledger-Inquirer as saying, "I have the greatest personal respect for President George W. Bush, and also understand the difficulties and challenges of a new president."

You made this comment several days after you were quoted in the same newspaper criticizing Bush for his position on missile defense, Alaskan oil drilling, and global warming. It had been gratifying, however briefly, to hear you speak the truth about this corrupt prostitute for Big Business. That makes it even more infuriating to see you now gutlessly back down.

When you say that you have the "greatest personal respect" for Bush, is this deadpan satire? Or do you literally mean that your respect for him is unsurpassed by your respect for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr? Dr. King risked his life to guarantee that African Americans would have the right to vote and to have their votes count. The man for whom you have "the greatest personal respect" deliberately prevented many black Floridians from exercising those rights...

Do you respect him because he lied about his tax cut for the rich, and because Republicans now plan to raid Social Security and Medicare in order to have the elderly subsidize that immoral giveaway? Do you respect him because he lied about an "energy crisis,"and helped Kenneth Lay and the Texas Natural Gas Mafia steal billions of dollars from defenseless consumers?...

You criticized Bush for his slavishly corporate policies regarding missile defense, oil drilling and global warming. Certainly a graduate of Annapolis is bright enough to see the common denominator in his positions is the desire to screw over the average citizen in order to enrich Republican campaign contributors. Do you respect him in spite of that, or because of that.

Bush has appointed devotees of the Confederacy to his cabinet. Did this increase or decrease your respect for him? He has made an all out assault on the environment. He lied about carbon emissions. He decided in favor of arsenic in the drinking water> He has okayed dumping of more industrial toxins into America's potable water supply. All the while, he has deceitfully called himself an "avid environmentalist." He pledged to "leave no child behind," then ruthlessly slashed funding for pediatric hospitals, day care facilities, reading programs, and child abuse prevention centers. President Carter, what does someone have to do in order to lose your "greatest personal respect?"...

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways...(James 1:8; James 5).


Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth he at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people...(Habakkuk 2:4-6).

...And he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many...(Daniel 8:25).



Carter and the Geneva Accords