By Emmanuelle Le Texier, Fulbright Fellow at U.C.S.D.;
and Dr. Thorsten Becker, Visiting Scholar at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
February 15th, 2003 -- The risk of war in Iraq has increased tensions between the U.S. and our respective home governments, in France and in Germany. It has come to a point where we feel compelled to express our concerns, both as European citizens, and as scholars invited to pursue our doctoral and post-doctoral research thanks to the generosity of our host country.
First, we want to express our gratitude to America which has provided us with the opportunity of working in our respective fields - political sciences and seismology - at U.C.S.D. and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, two of the foremost research centers world-wide. We also want to reaffirm the mutual respect and trust that our countries have built with America over the last 50 years, respect based on shared democratic values and ideals of liberty and freedom.
However, we are extremely concerned about the current events in the Middle East. Coming from two countries that have waged numerous wars against each other, we would like to try to explain some of the reasons why our governments and people, together with many American citizens, strive for a peaceful solution to the Iraqi crisis:
- Our countries question the certainty that Iraq still possesses and intends to employ arms of mass destruction. While a despicable regime, Iraq may not pose an immediate threat;
- Our countries feel that not all peaceful measures have yet been exhausted in trying to solve the Iraq crisis, that is why they call for reinforced U.N. missions to Iraq;
- Our countries remember with pain the human costs of war as they experienced the horrors of armed conflict and the deaths of millions of innocent civilians on their own soil.
We know what America and we as Western nations suffered in the aftermath of the terrorist acts of September 2001, and understand the fears that Iraq's autocratic, violent, and inhumane regime might instigate. Nevertheless, even in difficult times, we have to strive to avoid all armed conflict. As citizens of countries that have once fought each other, we are enjoying the hospitality and inspiration the U.S. continues to offer. This is personal, but powerful, evidence that mutual understanding, international law, and reliance on multilateral decisions and organizations are the paths that lead to a peaceful world order. We recall what Senator William Fulbright said when he created the Exchange Program that is now in his name: “to bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby to increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship“. That is why we urge to reinvigorate the dialogue between our countries and America, and with Iraq, and to find a peaceful solution to this crisis.