A war against Iraq would be a tragedy beyond our imaginations.

Bush has called for “a moment of truth.” And indeed we need truth to counter the big and persistent lies of the Bush administration.

The biggest lie is to suggest, as the Bush administration has repeatedly done, that Saddam Hussein is responsible for the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The Bush administration is responsible for more than half the US public incorrectly believingthat Saddam Hussein had a hand in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

It is a lie to suggest that war will bring peace and that it will increase our security. War will only bring increased violence, suffering and death. And the victims will be mostly innocent civilians, but they will also be young American soldiers. War against Iraq will likely incite terrorism against the people of the United States on a scale as yet unimagined.

It is a lie to paint the face of Saddam Hussein on the children of Iraq. Over half the population of Iraq is 15 years of age or younger. A US war against Iraq will be a war against children.

It is a lie to say that the weapons inspections are not working. The chief weaponsinspector and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency tell us otherwise.

It is a lie to say that Security Council Resolution 1441 authorizes any country to attack Iraq. This resolution authorizes the UN inspectors to do the job they are doing. A war against Iraq will be in violation of Resolution 1441 and the United Nations Charter.

It is a lie to say that the United Nations is irrelevant. It has proven its relevance by standing up to the bullying and coercion of the Bush administration. It has spoken for peace, for disarmament and for the weapons inspectors to continue their work.

By attacking Iraq, the Bush administration will make the United States an outlaw nation, as Blair will make the UK an outlaw nation. The US and UK will lose theircredibility and moral basis for leadership.

The Bush administration has issued a list of Iraqis who will be held to account for international crimes. But if the US and UK attack Iraq, the leaders of the attacking nations will be committing the crime of aggression for which the German leaders were held to account at Nuremberg following World War II.

One way to stop this war would be for Mr. Hussein and his sons to bow to Bush’s will and accept exile, but this seems highly unlikely.

Another way to prevent an aggressive war at this time is for the United Nations weapons inspectors to courageously refuse to leave Iraq and continue their inspections as mandated under Resolution 1441.Would the United States and the United Kingdom dare to launch their “shock and awe” attack against the Iraqi people while the UN weapons inspectors continue to carry out their mandate in Iraq?

Another way to prevent an aggressive war would be for the Pope to personally go to Baghdad, and to call upon all of his faith to refuse to fight in this unjust war.

The Pope could also convene an urgent Peace Conference in Baghdad, inviting political and religious leaders from around the world to meet in Baghdad.

Still another way would be for Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and other world leaders to personally intercede and attempt to negotiate a peaceful solution.Another way to potentially stop the war, given the impasse in the Security Council, would be for the United Nations General Assembly to go into emergency session to adopt a Uniting for Peace Resolution, prohibiting war against Iraq.

Another way, with far more honor than war, would be for Mr. Bush and Mr. Hussein to settle their differences mano a mano. With personal courage they could spare both of their peoples a disastrous war.

Yet another way would be for commanders and troops of the so-called “coalition of the willing” to refuse to follow illegal orders to participate in aggressive warfare that is unauthorized by the United Nations Security Council. As Mr. Bush pointed out, echoing the judgment at Nuremberg, following superior orders does not constitute a defense to illegal acts of war – and this applies to both sides.

With Mr. Bush’s deadline, the time is short, but there remains time for creativity and initiative.