Date Last Reviewed: 1/24/02

Help promote the peaceful prevention of armed conflict

If Not War, Then What?
Alternatives to the "War Against Terror"


The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) opposes the use of U.S. military force in response to the September 11th attacks. War is not the answer.

We continue to grieve for the many unique, precious and irreplaceable people who were murdered in the September 11 attacks. Our outrage at those terrible acts of violence is rooted in our profound belief that every human being is a creature of God and has been put here for a very special purpose. Those who helped in planning and carrying out the attacks have violated the most fundamental laws of a civil society. They should be held accountable under those laws.

Yet the terror and grief have not ended with the September 11 atrocities. While the full civilian death toll in Afghanistan has yet to be compiled, it is virtually certain that hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians have been killed or maimed directly by the war, and that hundreds, if not thousands more, refugees from the U.S. bombing have died from hidden landmines, hunger, or exposure to the elements. We cannot simply consign these innocent victims to the category of "collateral damage" or an "accident of war." They, too, were unique and precious human beings who will never be replaced. The U.S. government had no right to sacrifice their lives in its pursuit of justice.

We call upon the United States government to end the downward spiral of attacks and reprisals, a spiral begun long before September 11, but propelled by those attacks. Terrorism is not a person, place, or thing. You cannot blast it out of this world. Violent retaliation by the U.S. will sow more seeds of hatred and reap a new harvest of terror. Instead, we call upon the President and Congress to help lead the world out of the wilderness of war and terror and into a new world where people exercise reverence for life and nations respect the international rule of law.

Many ask: If not war, then what should the U.S. do instead to respond to the horrific attacks of September 11? As an alternative to war, we believe the U.S. should:

  1. Cooperate with law enforcement agencies around the world in bringing to justice those involved in international terrorism to the full extent of U.S. and international law. Toward that end, the U.S. Senate should ratify and implement the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombing and assist and encourage other countries in doing so. In response to earlier bombing attacks against Pan Am flight 103, the World Trade Center, and the U.S. embassies in Africa, U.S. officials worked successfully with law enforcement agencies around the world to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators of those attacks.

  3. Lead the international community in cooperative action to stop the flow of financial resources that support violent terror networks. Toward that end, the U.S. Senate should ratify and implement the International Convention on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.

  5. Through the UN Security Council, call for the establishment of a special international tribunal (or authorize an existing tribunal) to investigate and prosecute the September 11 attacks as crimes against humanity. To have legitimacy and to receive full cooperation from other countries, these cases should be tried before an international tribunal rather than before a U.S. court or military tribunal. To help deter and prosecute future crimes against humanity, the U.S. Senate should join the world community by ratifying the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court.

  7. Preserve civil liberties for U.S. citizens and non-citizens alike; maintain full public accountability of U.S. governing institutions; and protect vulnerable groups in the U.S. from racial profiling, hate crimes, and harassment. The U.S. must not and need not sacrifice its core values in the process of defending them from acts of terror. Rather, the U.S. should demonstrate its enduring commitment to freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in the way it pursues justice.

  9. Through the UN Security Council, lead the international community in bringing diplomatic, political, and economic pressure and incentives to bear on governments that give support or shelter to terror networks. If international sanctions are applied, they should be focused narrowly so as to isolate and limit the capacities of those in political power while avoiding harm to civilian populations.

  11. Respond with compassion and generous, sustained humanitarian and development assistance to the suffering of the innocent peoples in Afghanistan, Colombia, Somalia, the Congo, Iraq, the Sudan, Pakistan, and other zones of conflict. War orphans, refugee children, and youth without hope, today numbering in the millions, are especially vulnerable to recruitment by terrorist organizations.

  13. Intensify U.S. efforts to secure a just and lasting peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a major source of deep anti-U.S. sentiment throughout the Arab world.

  15. Lead the international community in cooperative efforts to dealert, reduce, and eliminate existing stockpiles of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons in the U.S., Russia, and elsewhere. This includes increasing substantially U.S. funding for the "Nunn-Lugar" cooperative threat reduction programs with Russia. To reduce the threat from weapons of mass destruction further, the Bush Administration and Congress should support the pending protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention, ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and preserve the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. If the U.S. does not lead, the danger from these weapons will continue to grow.

  17. Support an international code of conduct on arms transfers and a ban on the sale and transfer of weapons to zones of conflict. Weapons sales and transfers increase acts of violence, suffering, and the collapse of civil society institutions. The U.S. is the world's largest exporter of weapons. It should not export weapons to regimes that are undemocratic and violate human rights.

  19. Develop environmentally sound energy and transportation policies to reduce U.S. dependence on oil, a driving factor behind U.S. military intervention and violent conflicts in the Persian Gulf region.

FCNL, 245 Second Street, NE, Washington, DC, 20002-5795 USA
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