Campus Community Members Support Anti-War Petition

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UC Berkeley professors, faculty and students are adding their John Hancocks to a nationwide petition opposing war in Iraq.

Targeting the academic community, the petition has signatures from hundreds of UC Berkeley students, faculty, staff, alumni and postdoctorates.

The petition opposes an attack on Iraq for several reasons, including a lack of support by key allies for an invasion of Iraq, lack of U.S. citizen unity behind an invasion and the unreliability of the Iraqi threat.

It also states that invasion to replace Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime is not conducive to the interests of the world. It states an invasion could destabilize the Middle East, increase anti-American sentiment in the region and would not be legal under the United Nations Charter.

"The United Nations Charter does not permit pre-emptive invasion and (the United States is) a signatory," said Michael Nagler, a professor in the peace and conflict studies department at UC Berkeley and petition signer. "The Bush Administration tries to avoid international law."

Those who signed the petition said it is the first step in the movement to oppose an attack on Iraq and will provide an impetus for action against a war.

"It's necessary but not sufficient," Nagler said. "There is a point in a nonviolent process where you move from petition to action, and I think that we are reaching that point."

Some professors said the impact of the petition will have little effect on U.S. foreign policy.

The petition must garner millions of signatures to send a message to the U.S. government, said UC Berkeley political science professor Henry Brady.

"Public opinion polls show that those who oppose Iraq are not in the majority, so these signatures won't have that much impact," Brady said.

But other professors said the petition is beneficial because it illuminates alternative political views and brings them into the forefront of public discussion.

"Every time someone well-intentioned expresses an opinion it helps get that opinion to the mainstream," said Johanna Nichols, a professor of slavic languages and literature at UC Berkeley, who signed the petition.

Other petition signers agreed, saying it is important to have dissent from academics on public record.

"It makes an impact by putting on public record the types of individuals who do not agree," said Caroline Kane, a professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley and a petition signer. "(But) I doubt it will be a force."

Begun Sept. 24, the petition has already gathered over 25,000 signatures.

David Fox, professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Minnesota, said he started the petition for publication.

"The goal was initially to get a group of folks who oppose invasion of Iraq and show that this war is a mistake," Fox said. "Once it was clear how much support it got, we decided to send it off to other universities and encourage the same thing."

Faculty at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology posted the petition on the web, making it available across the country, which led to a rapid increase in signatures.

"The web will make it easier to develop a national and international network of people who oppose going to war," Fox said. "Eventually the numbers will get to a point where it will a political force that can't be ignored."

Those circulating the petition are requesting contributions to publish an advertisement in the New York Times.


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