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Ralph Nader > Letters To President George W. Bush regarding Iraq War > Women’s Organizations Letter Requesting Meeting With Bush

March 9, 2003

President George W. Bush

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We, the leaders of the undersigned women’s rights organizations, request a meeting with you to discuss our concerns about a possible war against Iraq.

Violence often simply begets violence. Women’s groups have long favored non-violent, diplomatic means to resolve conflict, including international conflict.

Moreover, specifically in the case of Iraq, even if Saddam Hussein does possess weapons of mass destruction, CIA Director George Tenet has stated that Iraq is unlikely to use such weapons unless the United States launches a pre-emptive strike against it. Thus, far from making us safer, the rush to war against Iraq will likely increase the risk of terrorism against U.S. targets.

We are also concerned about the very high costs of a war against Iraq. There is no longer a federal budget surplus to fund this war, as tax cuts coupled with continuing economic weakness have pushed tax revenues down, resulting in budget deficits for the foreseeable future. We fear that, as has happened during previous wars, funds will be diverted from education, health, welfare and other vitally needed social programs whose budgets were already downsized. Women will bear the greatest burden of any decrease in domestic spending in order to finance war.

Even more troubling are the costs in human lives and suffering that war will cause. Our women and men in the armed forces, though they understand the risks of enlisting, should not be put in harm’s way unnecessarily. Civilians in combat zones do not voluntarily take such risks. Women are often targeted for rape or torture in wartime. The killing and maiming of innocent people as well as the destruction of Iraq’s physical and social infrastructure are inevitable in a massive pre-emptive military strike. For Iraqi women, the war carries the danger that their nation will degenerate into an even more militarized or extremist Iraq that dramatically could restrict women’s rights.

In addition, the United States has not yet fulfilled its promises in Afghanistan. The resources made available for security and reconstruction are still far short of the Marshall Plan that you pledged last year. Moreover, a pre-emptive attack against Iraq could further destabilize Afghanistan.

We are concerned, finally, about the damage to the United States’ stature if it implements a pre-emptive strike against Iraq. The United States has been a world leader in promoting democracy, equality, and respect for human rights. We have exercised international leadership through multilateral coordination and co-operation. We urge you not to abandon this tradition.

With this letter, we are submitting to you a resolution opposed to a pre-emptive military attack against Iraq and request a meeting with you.


Organizations Signed on to Open Letter to President on War

Ms. Foundation for Women

Feminist Majority



Womens International League for Peace and Freedom

NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund

Women’s Action for New Directions

National Council of Women’s Organizations

Statement on the War with Iraq

January 15, 2003

As advocates for women, we believe that before engaging in war, any and all non-violent methods should be used to resolve conflict.

Diplomacy and non-violent measures are legitimate, effective and proven tools for diffusing and resolving conflict.

The administration is currently recognizing and using non-violent diplomatic means of conflict resolution in response to North Korea’s open violation of international treaties against the development of weapons of mass destruction.

We believe that our government should focus its attention on eliminating terrorism and bringing to justice the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks on the United States.

Entering into a simultaneous war with Iraq is highly unlikely to reduce the threat of terrorism against Americans, and has the potential to increase hostility against the United States.

Alleviating poverty is one of the most effective methods to decrease the probability that countries will allow terrorists to operate inside their borders. The costs of this war would decrease the United States’ ability to preempt future acts of terror by investing in poor countries.

Our commitment to Afghanistan remains largely unfulfilled and the realization of our promises to rebuild a democratic government and equitable society will require significant financial support over the next ten years.

We express our grave concern about the heavy toll this war will exact on U.S. families. We are also concerned about the potential of war to harm women and children, both as a strategic element of combat and as a consequence of war.

Increases in United States military expenditures have historically been accompanied by cuts to domestic social programs designed to assist the poor, the majority of whom are women and children.

Women in conflict zones always bear heavy personal costs of wars that target them for rape or torture, ruin their country’s physical and social infrastructure, destabilize their economies, destroy their homes, and kill and maim their children and families.

Therefore, the National Council of Women’s Organizations–

Affirms that advocating for peace and engaging in widespread debate about the war are acts of patriotism.

Believes that United States foreign policy should be driven by human rights, justice and equality–values that will decrease the threat of terrorism–and not by corporate interests or the desire to secure natural resources for U.S. consumption.

Opposes any preemptive military action against Iraq at this time.


The National Council of Women’s Organizations is a nonpartisan network of more than one hundred and seventy organizations representing over seven million American women.

For more information, contact:

Martha Burk, President

National Council of Women’s Organizations

(202) 393-7122