August 6, 2002 (Hiroshima Day) marked the 12th year of the economic sanctions against Iraq. These economic sanctions were described to me during my visit to Iraq by an Iraqi teenager as being a “silent nuclear bomb that drops into every home and is slowly destroying not only the children but the whole Iraqi nation.” Well over a half million Iraqi children have died of malnutrition and preventable diseases (resulting from the after-effects of the Gulf War and continuing economic sanctions) and each day more children die unnecessarily.

Now, as the Bush Administration is making extremely clear, Iraq is in serious danger of an all-out US assault in the coming months. This week when the Iraqi government offered weapons inspections, the American administration responded by saying it is not about weapons inspections. Rather than going into yet another war causing further untold suffering to Iraqi civilians (also effecting the Middle East and the entire human family, as we are now so interconnected), every diplomatic option must be tried to divert war. The age of wars has gone, such barbaric activity is not acceptable at any time. But even for those who believe in war, it should not be acceptable when diplomatic options are readily available as has been, and continues to be, the case with Iraq.

The American Government has a responsibility to uphold its democratic constitution, abide by international law, and respect the democratic wishes of many American people and the vast majority of governments and peoples of the world, who are calling for a non-violent solution to this crisis. War on our Iraqi brothers and sisters would be a war on the spirit and dignity of the entire human family.

We are currently in the UN Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010). This challenges us all to focus on the children and do all in our power to see they have clean water, food, medicine, and a safe environment and safe world. Children in Iraq do not have these things because of UN/USA/UK sanctions. The continuing death and suffering of Iraqi children is preventable. Let us therefore prevent it.

Oppose US war against Iraq and work for diplomatic options, including the lifting of economic trade sanctions against the Iraqi people, who have been living and dying under these brutal sanctions and effects of war for too long.
*Mairead Corrigan Maguire, a member of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Advisory Council, is a Nobel Peace Laureate from Northern Ireland and a founder of Peace People.