March 18, a number of faculty members addressed a letter to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), writing to ask her to speak out against the Iraq war. The senator has not yet responded to them, but the letter is below.
Dear Senator Clinton:
It is with grave hearts and a deepening sense of urgency that we write to you today. The Bush Administration appears increasingly intent to wage war on Iraq. Such a war will be horrific and unjustifiable. Moreover, this drive for war will actually decrease the security of America and Americans, and it will greatly destabilize the established world order. We cannot sit idly by while this happens. And neither can you. We are writing to ask that you immediately (1) begin speaking out against this war, and (2) introduce legislation that will rein the Administration in and reinstate the Congressional constraints that you and your fellow elected representatives forfeited on October 10, 2002.
We, the cosigners of this letter, actively supported your campaign to represent us as our NY senator. We were deeply concerned, however, when you chose to ignore the wishes of your constituency on October 10, 2002. On that day, you joined other Senators in the passage of S.J. 45, a resolution authorizing the President to wage an unprovoked war on Iraq. In doing so, you and your fellow Senators abdicated your role as overseers of US foreign policy. You did this despite the fact that your office received an overwhelming majority of letters, e-mails, and phone calls beseeching you to stand up to the President's blatant war mongering. Unfortunately, you chose to ignore us. Because of that, we now have no other option than to take direct action to hold you responsible to the people you are supposed to represent.
At the time, you said passing S.J. Res. 45 “best serves the security of our nation.” In that speech, you claimed that “intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program.” But we now know that those reports were wrong. Four months of intense UN inspections have shown that the chemical weapons stock has been destroyed, not rebuilt; Hussein's nuclear program dismantled, not rebuilt; and the missile program continues to be destroyed, not rebuilt.
You stated at the time that you would take “the President at his word that he will seek to avoid war, if at all possible.” Clearly, he seeks nothing but war. You stated that you believed “international support and legitimacy are crucial.” But Bush's drive to war lacks both international support and legitimacy. In fact, Bush continues this drive against the wishes of the international community and the people of the world. The President has broken his word to the American people. We have a moral responsibility to speak out. We will not be silent. You should not be either.
The events of September 11th struck us all to the core, especially here in New York. A number of us lost former students. But you have correctly observed that Hussein had no direct connection with that horrific act of terrorism. Yet, President Bush increasingly tries to link the two – either emotionally or theoretically. He is disrespectfully and groundlessly trying to use the memory of that horrible tragedy to justify the further loss of life. We will not be silent in the face of such transparent manipulation.
You have said repeatedly that you will stand behind this president. But as former President Theodore Roosevelt said “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public . . . It is unpatriotic not to tell the truth.”
The truth is that there is no reason for this war. The generals who led the US in the 1991 Gulf War have spoken out against this war, calling it foolish, unnecessary, and dangerous. As your colleague Sen. Robert Byrd so eloquently observed, “I truly must question the judgment of any President who can say that a massive unprovoked military attack on a nation which is over 50% children is 'in the highest moral traditions of our country.'” And we truly must question the judgment of our elected officials who sit by silently and let this tragedy happen. We refuse to be silent. We refuse to let you be silent.
But silent you remain. Last month, millions of people around the world took to the street to protest Bush's drive for war. Across New York state, hundreds of thousands rallied from New York City to our own little town of Geneva. The people of the world don't want this war. The people of New York don't want this war. It is time for you to speak out strongly and passionately against this war. It is time for you to use the Constitutional powers at your disposal to rein in an Administration that is out of control, and to reassert Congressional oversight of American foreign policy.
Since the end of World War II, American administrations have worked tirelessly to create a stable and beneficial world order. They have been far from perfect, but the alliances, institutions, and norms that have provided the foundation for the international community have been worth defending. You yourself played an active role in an administration that worked hard to strengthen the multilateral institutions that brought increased stability and prosperity to much of the world. Those institutions and the international order in general are now at risk because of President Bush's blind rush to war.
During your October 10th speech, you said that your vote was not “a vote for any new doctrine of pre-emption, or for unilateralism, or for the arrogance of American power or purpose — all of which carry grave dangers for our nation, for the rule of international law and for the peace and security of people throughout the world.” But this is exactly what we see happening. The Bush Administration proclaimed its unilateral vision of preemption in the National Security Strategy Report of 2002. As the noted scholar G. John Ikenberry wrote in Foreign Affairs “America's nascent neoimperial grand strategy threatens to rend the fabric of the international community and political partnerships precisely at a time when that community and those partnerships are urgently needed. It is an approach fraught with peril and likely to fail. It is not only politically unsustainable but diplomatically harmful. And if history is a guide, it will trigger antagonism and resistance that will leave America in a more hostile and divided world.”
The international order, which previous American administrations have worked so hard to construct and nurture, is now under direct attack by the dangerous war mongering of the Bush administration. Since coming into office, this administration has been openly disdainful of the multilateral institutions, treaties, and alliances. In his current drive to wage war on Iraq, President Bush threatens to sacrifice the international society altogether. We refuse to be silent while he does this. We refuse to let you be silent.
As professors at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, we have been proud to host you on our campus numerous times. We have been proud to call you our Senator. But you lost our respect when you chose to ignore the wishes of your constituents and joined in Bush's drive for war. Our respect for you has been compromised by your unwillingness to stand up and speak for truth, justice, and peace.
Dr. Martin Luther King stated that “Human progress does not roll on the wheels of inevitability.” It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men and women who are willing to stand up, speak out, and fight for what they believe is right, and against what they know is wrong. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “In the final analysis, a democratic government represents t