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February 12, 1998
Mr. William Jefferson Clinton
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Dear Mr. President,
The current situation regarding Iraq is a cause of concern to the nation, to you and to all of us.
We recognize the untenable position of Saddam Hussein and the potential threat his manufacture and possession of weapons of mass destruction poses to the whole world. We support all peaceful efforts by the international community to have the Iraqi leadership comply with the U.N. resolutions that would result in the destruction of such weapons and guarantees that they not be manufactured in the future. We are pleased that you and your administration are taking a leading role in attempting to enforce the U.N. resolutions.
Because we recognize the danger of this situation and the potential that exists for aggressive action against other peoples and states by Iraq, we are convinced that the international community must be tireless in doing all it can to bring about Iraqi compliance. From that perspective, however, we. view with grave concern the stated position of the U.S. administration indicating a readiness on the part of the United States to use military force to compel compliance by Iraq. In our considered judgment this action by the United States could be exceedingly difficult if not impossible to justify and would seriously jeopardize the possibility of achieving any lasting peace in the region.
All of this leads us to the conclusion that renewed diplomatic efforts are the proper course of action. We write, therefore, to urge that instead of using the military option, you reinforce the diplomatic initiatives by widening the participation of other governments, especially Arab states, in the concerted effort to bring about Iraqi compliance on these issues.
We would urge a reexamination of the embargo to allow more humanitarian aid for the Iraqi people, and to ensure that it is more narrowly targeted so as not to destroy the lives of innocent civilians.
Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, Chairman of the Bishops' International Policy Committee, has expressed these concerns in detail to the Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright in a letter dated February 5.
We are sure that you are aware, Mr. President, that as recently an last Sunday Pope John Paul II repeated his appeal for a diplomatic solution to this crisis without recourse to military means.
Please be assured of our prayers for you and for our government as you confront this difficult and challenging threat to world peace.
Cardinal Bernard Law
Archbishop of Boston
Cardinal John O'Connor
Archbishop of New York
Cardinal James Hickey
Archbishop of Washington
Cardinal Roger Mahony
Archbishop of Los Angeles
Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua
Archbishop of Philadelphia
Cardinal William Keeler
Archbishop of Baltimore
Cardinal Adam Maida
Archbishop of Detroit
Most Reverend Anthony Pilla
National Conference of Catholic Bishops
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