Allocution to Federal Court - Philadelphia, PA
John H Hohenstein
14 April 2004

I don't regret our action on March 20, 2003 in which 107 of us blocked the doors to the James A Byrne US Court House. I only regret that all our actions and the pleas of religious leaders, friendly nations and millions of people throughout the world were unable to prevent President Bush, abetted by a rollover Congress, from initiating this senseless ware against Iraq.

As a result of that war and subsequent occupation, several thousand Iraqis, many, if not most, civilians, hundreds of our armed forces, and many citizens from other countries have been killed.

Human life is sacred. I believe no one, neither individual nor government, has the right to take a life except to save one's own life or the life of another. War not only destroys lives but forever scars survivors and the family and friends of the victims. It should only be entered into for the gravest of reasons and then only as a last resort.

Taking our nation to war on false pretenses is a crime far greater than any we committed that day. The six month campaign to deceive and manipulate our nation's citizens and the United Nations Security Council was unprecedented. In the end this campaign failed even on its own terms. Not able to bribe or threaten enough members of the Security Council to pass a resolution allowing military action, the Bush administration pulled it back. Then they had to pretend that Resolution 1441 authorizing inspections was a big enough fig leaf to hide the crime. It was not.

Besides the loss of life and the thousands physically wounded by this war, there are other horrific consequences, the most obvious one being the increase of fear and mistrust among one billion Moslems. Fear breeds hatred and hatred breeds violence. How many young people have been pushed over the edge to violence by this unjust war?

Related to this is the damaging blow to our moral authority, both in the way other peoples perceive us and how we perceive ourselves. Our strength is not in our military but in our ideals. When we are true to them we are a great nation. When we desert them we become very dangerous. When government attempts to redefine words like "democracy", "freedom", "liberation", and "sovereignty", our own rights and our national character are threatened.

Our fragile planet and our unique human race need a strong, decent United States of America to help confront such challenges as the environment, economic injustice, human rights, and violence in all its forms. By the actions of our government in Iraq we have terribly compromised that leadership.

Another frightening aspect of this misadventure is the attempt by the Bush administration to shatter the historic and necessary taboo against preemptive war. Preemptive war poisons the future. The hatred it engenders is almost irreversible.

My hope is that God, the God of America and Iraq, the God of wisdom, mercy and love will move our peoples to put the sins and suffering of this war behind us. We are here to build a better world for our children and grandchildren. The first step is to recognize and take responsibility for what we have done, as individuals and as a nation, and then to get our leaders to do the same. The recent increase in the level of violence in Iraq demonstrates the urgency of our task. Each day of denial reduces any chance of peace and stability in our lifetimes.

John F. Hohenstein