Letter, November 16, 1998, protesting US treatment of Iraq

Dear fellow librarians,

Presidential spokespersons officially announced that 10,0000 Iraqis were to die in a massive US armed attack unleashed against the people of the nation of Iraq as punishment for its governments "non-compliance" with US/UN weapons inspections there. The horror of this action was narrowly averted, we are told. This kind of threat, the open threat to kill civilians by the thousands to punish a dictator and his cabal for their alleged evasions of international inspectors looking for hidden weapons caches, is state terrorism and it makes a mockery of international law and the rational pursuit of a peace and security.

The kind of free, democratic culture to which we, as librarians, hope we are contributing cannot abide our government brandishing the threat of such a mass slaughter, of such calculated technological barbarism, as a legitimate tool to force the compliance of another government to our will. Democratic librarians who see global peace and security and justice as the foundations for the advancement of the cultural and educational projects which are our special professional responsibilities must make their voices heard along with those from all walks of life who decry the threat of bloody mass murder as a legitimate instrument of diplomacy.

The US cannot continue to play this kind of brinksmanship with the threats of unleashing unspeakable devastation. We already have hobbled Iraq with sanctions which have had disastrous consequences for the common people of the nation. This itself is abominable. It is, however, truly degrading to the moral foundations of our own democratic republic to resort to escalating threats of mass butchery at every impasse to our will and in so doing to create a state of permanent anxiety of imminent war, here in this country as around the world, in order to deal with an irresponsible and recalcitrant government in Iraq which challenges our right to infringe what they believe to be their nation's sovereignty.

The press asks "who blinked?" to assess the relative advantage of Iraq versus the United States after a bloodbath was narrowly averted. The question is "Who wouldn't blink in horror at the brink of the planned prospect of the death of at least 10,000 persons and the devastation of their country?"

Democratic, progressive librarians say "NO to US threats of mass destruction and death against the people of Iraq! End the sanctions against the people of Iraq! Books not bombs!"

Mark C. Rosenzweig
ALA Councilor at large
Progressive Librarians Guild

and

Elaine Harger, Progressive Librarians Guild

Donna Mandel, MLIS student, San Jose State University

Sam Trosow, PhD student (information policy), UCLA

Mark Scheu

Sanford Berman, Hennepin County Library, Minnetonka, MN

Roberta Frye, Oakland

Deborah A. Richards, Simmons College

Linda Lopez-Otero, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Rory Litwin, MLIS student, San Jose State University

Suzanne Tronier, Salt Lake County Library System

Peter McDonald Peter McDonald, Geneva Library, Cornell U., Geneva NY

Felipe Meneses Tello, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

Katia Roberto, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Charles Willett, CRISES Press

Miriam Pickens, Student, Wayne State Univ. LISP

Jos Anemaet, Oregon State University

Phil Runkel, Catholic Worker Archivist, Marquette University Archives

Carol Liu, New York City

Sarah Springer, MLIS student, University of Pittsburgh

Derek Monypeny, Librarian, Oakland, CA

Christa Gush, David Gomez & Associates

Jessamyn West, Shoreline Community College

Aimee J. Camp, Pueblo Library District, Pueblo Colorado

Carolyn Riddle, University of Arizona, MLIS student

Amanda R. Calvert, University of Arizona, Tucson

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