Position Statements

Peace, Justice and Resistance to War

Maulana Karenga

In spite of the Bush administration's unilateral decision to wage war against Iraq, we must continue to resist and oppose it. For the war against Iraq is a war against the Iraqi people without justification and thus unjust, immoral and illegal. This position evolves from the ancient and ongoing tradition of our ancestors which teaches us to respect life, love justice, cherish freedom, treasure peace and constantly struggle to bring good in the world and not let any good be lost. It is the ethical tradition of the Husia and the Odu Ifa, of Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Henry McNeal Turner, Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcolm X, Ella Baker and Martin Luther King. It is a tradition which rejects the policy of peace for the powerful and war for the vulnerable, dominance and security for the rich and right race and oppression and insecurity for all others in the world.
We stand in solidarity with the peoples of the world who reject and resist this unjust war and struggle for freedom for the oppressed, justice for the injured and wronged, power for all people over their destiny and daily lives, and peace for the world. And for us, peace is the practice of justice which ends oppression and hostilities and provides security and well-being for all. In taking this stand, we also reject the willful misreading of the meaning of the tragic events of 9/11 and the manipulation of the resultant fear and sense of insecurity in order to wage a self-defined preemptive and limitless war of aggression, curtail and violate human and civil rights and establish a racial and cultural imperium in the world.
Although Bush claims to be waging a just war, his real reasons are transparent and tragically self-serving and reveal a post 9/11 imperial offensive with colonialist conversations about "civilizing missions," "crusades" and "dark and evil nations." Our ethical tradition requires several conditions for a just war which his self-declared war against the Iraqi people does not meet. These criteria are: a just cause; collective considered judgment; just means; consequences of common good and; last resort. There is no just cause in an unprovoked preemptive war of aggression which is a crime against peace and the people against whom it is directed. Moreover, the current war launched by the Bush administration is not a war of self-defense, but of self-aggrandizement, a war of vigilante aggression, outlaw resource seizure and imperial expansion in a brutal attempt to remake the Middle East and the world in its own image and interests.
The collective considered judgment of the world is that the war is immoral, illegal and unjust. The UN has rejected it as illegal and illegitimate despite attempts by the U.S. to bribe, bully and threaten other states into compliance. Moreover, in spite of attempts by the Bush administration and its media allies to divert and discourage debate, and Congress' servile and early concession, except for a courageous few, a strong anti-war movement has emerged, reinforcing resistance around the world.
The principle of just means requires a conscientious effort to reduce the deaths, damage and devastation of war, especially harm to innocent civilians. This demands discriminate and proportionate use of force, a condition not met by the Bush administration's plans for the largest and most devastating bombing raids on Iraq since those of WWII. Boasting of the use of catastrophic weapons which will "shock and awe," they insure massive civilian deaths and injuries and the extreme devastation of the civilian infrastructure and the environment.
There are no consequences of common good for such an unprovoked, unjustifiable and unjust war. It is grossly wrong and does not benefit the world or the American people to kill thousands and thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians; to conquer and occupy their country; to seize their oil, water and other resources; to contaminate and degrade the environment of Iraq and neighboring regions; to violate international law and weaken international institutions; to destabilize the region and the world; to cause unnecessary casualties among U.S. and Iraqi soldiers; to provoke retaliatory attacks against the U.S. and its people; and to divert needed resources for social well-being in this country.
The principle of last resort grows out of a predisposition for peace and a presumption against war. By definition a preemptive war is not a last resort, but the first even prior resort. For to preempt is to act prior to - prior to discussion, negotiation and the pursuit of alternatives to war. Bush's fundamentalist faith-informed approach to issues of peace and security for the U.S. and the world reeks of messianic and chosen-race notions of U.S. power and place in the world and the role of war in maintaining them. But there is no security without peace, no peace without justice, no justice without freedom and no freedom without the power of people everywhere over their destiny and daily lives whether in the U.S., Afghanistan, Iraq or Palestine.

Dr. Maulana Karenga is professor in the Department of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach; chair of The Organization Us and the National Association of Kawaida Organizations (NAKO).