As the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan comes to a tumultuous end, most Americans now say the war — and the Iraq war that began soon after — was a mistake. 

But in the early days after the September 11 attacks, as the nation and the world reeled with shock and grief, IPS stood virtually alone among D.C.-based research and policy organizations in cautioning against a rush to war that our experts believed would be illegal, ineffective, and disastrous. When President George W. Bush announced the start of a “Global War on Terror,” beginning in Afghanistan, some 88 percent of Americans supported the call.

But that support was never unanimous. From the very beginning, a broad array of activists, experts, faith leaders, and concerned citizens from all walks of life organized against the war, warning presciently that a militarized response would fail to deliver justice for the victims of the 9/11 attacks. 

IPS, along with our board members Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte and our allies at YES! Magazine, helped organize a letter soon after the attacks broadcasting that warning all over the world. It was signed by over 150 supporters — including civil rights icon Rosa Parks, trailblazing feminist Gloria Steinem, and anti-colonial intellectual Edward Said, among many others.

Twenty years later, that view is widely supported, but only after staggering costs in human lives, tax dollars, and opportunity. Now, as we mourn those the world lost on 9/11 and the wars since, we confront a new era in which we urgently need to prioritize justice, human needs, and our planet itself over militarism. 

As our experts work with social movements, policy makers, and our allies to shape those choices, we’re sharing our 2001 statement in full in hopes that it can speak to a new generation.


September 19, 2001

As Americans begin to consider the implications of a military response against terrorism, an increasing number are voicing their opposition to precipitous acts that may involve the world in a deadly conflict. Rosa Parks, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, and Gloria Steinem have joined Ben Cohen and a number of business, environmental, religious, and civil society leaders to speak out against war as the solution to terrorism. In a statement released today, these leaders argue that a “military response would not end the terror.” They call for “bringing the terrorists to justice under the rule of law” and they argue against an erosion of civil liberties.

The statement calls for a response to the September 11th disaster that is “prompt, just, and effective.” The signers question whether “a military response will end the terror: As citizens of this great nation, we support the efforts being made to find those behind the acts of terror. Bringing them to justice under the rule of law — not military action — is the way to end the violence.”

The signers also note that while the terrorist acts were aimed at U.S., citizens from more than 50 nations were among the victims: “Our best chance for preventing such devastating acts of terror is to act decisively and cooperatively as part of a community of nations within the framework of international law to route our terrorism and work for justice at home and abroad.”

The statement is one of many which are being developed by civil society groups including religious leaders and academics calling for justice rather than revenge. Newspaper advertisements and other initiatives are being planned. Reports from around the country indicate that activism is being planned throughout the coming months. On Thursday, students at 82 campuses in 25 states will hold peace rallies and vigils to call for restraint and reconciliation.

The full statement is below.


Our hearts and prayers go out in compassion to the victims and their families who have suffered so greatly from the unspeakable acts of brutality committed on September 11, 2001.

We share the shock, anger, and grief of so many people in the U.S. and around the world and call for a response that is prompt, just, and effective.

We foresee that a military response would not end the terror. Rather, it would spark a cycle of escalating violence, the loss of innocent lives, and new acts of terrorism. As citizens of this great nation, we support the efforts being made to find those behind the acts of terror. Bringing them to justice under the rule of law — not military action — is the way to end the violence.

We note that although the terrorist acts of September 11 were aimed at the United States, citizens of over 50 nations are counted among the victims. The carnage of terrorism knows no borders. Our best chance for preventing such devastating acts of terror is to act decisively and cooperatively as part of a community of nations within the framework of international law to root out terrorism and work for justice at home and abroad.

We affirm that the United States is a nation of laws, rooted in fundamental American values of democracy, justice, human rights, and respect for life. The laws that protect our civil liberties and freedoms in the United States are part of what define us as a nation. They must not be abridged; to do so would offer victory to those who wrought these vengeful acts.


Harry Belafonte, entertainer and activist
John Cavanagh, Director, Institute for Policy Studies
Danny Glover, actor and activist
David Korten, President, People-Centered Development Forum
Frances Korten, Executive Director, Positive Futures Network
Sarah van Gelder, Executive Editor, YES! magazine


Sharif Abdullah, Director, Commonway Institute
Patch Adams, MD, Gesundheit Institute
Gar Alperovitz, President, National Center for Economic and Security Alternatives, and Lionel Bauman Professor of Political Economy, University of Maryland
Ray C. Anderson, Chairman and CEO, Interface, Inc.
Carl Anthony, Ford Foundation
Naseer Aruri, professor emeritus University of Massachusetts, and President, Trans-Arab Research Institute
Ziad Asali, MD, Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee
Kenny Ausubel, Founder, Bioneers
Zenobia Barley, Executive Director, Center for Ecoliteracy
Harriet Barlow, Director, Blue Mountain Center
Tom Barry, Interhemispheric Resource Center, Co-Director, Foreign Policy In Focus
Peter Barnes, Writer
Harry Belafonte, entertainer and activist
Medea Benjamin, Founding Director, Global Exchange
Peter Berryman, Cornbelt Records, Recording Artist
Grace Boggs, Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership
David Bollier, Whole Earth
Christie Brinkley
Frank A. Butler, retired President, Eastman Gelatine Corp., a Kodak subsidiary
Helen Caldicott MD, Founding President, Physicians of Social Responsibility
Fritjof Capra, author, “The Web of Life”
Nancy Carstedt, President and CEO, Chicago Children’s Choir
John Cavanagh, Director, Institute for Policy Studies
Michael Christ, Executive Director, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (1985 Nobel Peace Prize Recipient)
Ben Cohen, Co-Founder, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream
Terry Collingsworth, Executive Director, International Labor Rights Fund
Paul S. Collins, author, “Banvard’s Folly”
Peter H. Cook, Chairman, Star Foundation
Anthony Cortese, Sc.D., President, Second Nature, Inc.
Robert Costanza, Professor, University of Maryland
Peter Coyote, actor and activist
Casey Coates Danson, President, Global Possibilities
James Cromwell, activist and actor, Founder, Hecel Oyakapi
Claire Hope Cummings, Producer/Host, KPFA- FM, Berkeley
Ossie Davis, entertainer and social activist
Susan Davis, Chair, Grameen Foundation
Walter J. Davis, Professor, San Francisco Theological Seminary
Tanya Dawkins, founder, Inter-American Forum
Ruby Dee, entertainer and social activist
Marie Dennis, Director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Hari Dillon, President, Vanguard Public Foundation
Amy Domini, Managing Principal and Founder, Domini Social Investments
Barbara Dudley, former Director, Greenpeace, USA
Barbara Ehrenreich, Writer
Mike Farrell, actor and producer
Dr. Maureen A. Fay, O.P., President, University of Detroit Mercy
Richard Foos, President, Rhino Records
Isao Fujimoto, Professor, University of California, Davis
Barbara and Russell Fuller, Coordinators, Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice, Michigan
Meg Gage, Proteus Fund
Jim Garrison, President, State of the World Forum
Bernie Glassman, Co-Founder and President, Peacemaker Community
Herbert P. Gleason, Lawyers Alliance for World Security
Danny Glover, actor and activist
Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network
Sean Gonsalves, syndicated columnist
Akuyoe Graham, actor
Alisa Gravitz, Executive Director, Co-op America
Jerry Greenfield, Co-Founder, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream
Susan Gzesh, Director, Human Rights Program, University of Chicago
John Harvey, National Coordinator, Grantmakers Without Borders
Paul Hawken, author
Randy Hayes, President, Rainforest Action Network
Richard G. Heck, Jr., Professor, Harvard University
Hazel Henderson, Calvert-Henderson Quality-of-Life Indicators
Doug Henwood, Editor, Left Business Observer
Anne Hess and Craig Kaplan
Gary Hirshberg, President and CEO, Stonyfield Farm
Nancy Hirshberg, Vice President, Stonyfield Farm
Jeffrey Hollender, President, Seventh Generation
Rev. Dr. Melvin Hoover, Director, Faith in Action, Unitarian Universalist Association
Rick Ingrasci, MD
Bernice Powell Jackson, Executive Minister, Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ
Gary W. Janka, Executive Director, Peacemaker Community
Rev. Robert Jeffrey, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Seattle
Douglas Johnson, Executive Director, Center for Victims of Torture
Jon Kabat-Zinn, author and Professor, UMass Medical School
Don Kegley, Labor Chairman, Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and Environment’ Marilyn King, former member, U.S. Olympic Team
Bob Kinsey, Peace and Justice Task Force, Rocky Mountain Conference, United Church of Christ
Steve Kirsch, Founder and Chairman, Steven and Michele Kirsch Foundation
Frederick Kirschenmann, President, Kirschenmann Family Farms
Michael Klare, Professor, Hampshire College
Alan E. Kligerman, CEO, Akpharma Inc.
Josh Knauer, Founder,
David Korten, President, People-Centered Development Forum
Frances Korten, Executive Director, Positive Futures Network
A.V. Krebs, Corporate Agribusiness Research Project
George Lakoff, Professor, University of California at Berkeley
Dal Lamagna, Founder and President, Tweezerman Corporation
Saul Landau, filmmaker and Professor, California Polytechnic University, Pomona
Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor, Tikkun Magazine
Brenda Levin
Mark Lichty, CEO, Bustin Industrial Products
Catherine S. Manegold, Professor, Emory University
Conrad Martin, Executive Director, Fund for Constitutional Government
Fleet Maull, North American Director, Peacemaker Community, Executive Director, Prison Dharma Network, and President, National Prison Hospice Association
Chris Moore, Co-Founder and CEO, LivePlanet
Frances Moore Lappe, author, “Diet for a Small Planet”
Nancy Lewis, Co-founder, Charlie’s Place
Sally Light, Executive Director, Nevada Desert Experience
Ambassador John McDonald, Chairman and CEO, Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy
Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director, Food First
John Mohawk, Associate Professor, University at Buffalo
Robin Morgan, author and activist
Michael S. Moushabeck, President and Publisher, Interlink Publishing
Helena Norberg-Hodge, Director, International Society for Ecology and Culture
Larry Olds, North American Alliance for Popular and Adult Education
Molly Harriss Olson, Director, Eco Futures, former Executive Director, President’s Council on Sustainable Development
Torie Osborn, Executive Director, Liberty Hill Foundation
Rosa Parks, civil rights leader
Richard Perl, President, Pacific Partners International Investments,Inc.
Marc Pilisuk, University of California
Gifford and Elizabeth Pinchot, Pinchot and Company
Timothy R. Quigley, The New School
Bonnie Raitt
David Ranney, Professor, University of Illinois Chicago
Marcus Raskin, Co-Founder, Institute for Policy Studies
Michael Ratner, Vice-President, Center for Constitutional Rights
Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson, Integral Partnerships
Andrew Reding, Senior Fellow, World Policy Institute
Mark Ritchie, President, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
John Robbins, author, “Diet for a New America”
Vicki Robin, President, New Road Map Foundation
Belvie Rooks, Educator, “Hey, Listen Up!”
Marshall Rosenberg, Director of Educational Services, Center for Nonviolent Communication
Randy Rowland, Founder and Producer, Video Quarterly, Pepper Spray Productions
Alan Sagner, past chairman, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Edward W. Said, Author and Professor, Columbia University
David Salniker, Executive Director, Tides Center
Juliet Schor, author and Professor, Boston College
John Sellers, Director, The Ruckus Society
Martin Sheen
Doug Schuler, Director, Public Sphere Project, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, and Professor, Evergreen State College
Nina Simons, Executive Director, Collective Heritage Institute
Alice Slater, President, Global Resource Action Center for the Environment
Ted Smith, Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition
Marc Sommer, Executive Director, Mainstream Media Project
Krishna Sondhi, Publisher, Kumarian Press, Inc.
John Stauber, author and activist
Gloria Steinem
Rt. Rev. William E. Swing, Episcopal Bishop of California and President, United Religious Initiative
Woody Tasch, Chairman, Investors’ Circle
Betsy Taylor, Executive Director, Center for a New American Dream
Chet Tchozewski, Global Greengrants Fund
Ellen Thomas, Executive Director, Proposition One Committee
Lori Ann Thrup, writer
Nina Utne, Utne Reader, Chair and CEO
Barbara L. Valocore, President, The Lifebridge Foundation
Sarah van Gelder, Executive Editor, YES! Magazine
Heidi VanGenderen, Senior Associate, University of Colorado at Denver
Rev. John H. Vaughn, Executive Director, Peace Development Fund
Alice Walker, Pulitzer-prize winning author
Lori M. Wallach, Director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Director, The Shalom Center
Cora Weiss, President, Hague Appeal for Peace
June Zeitlin, Executive Director, Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO)

* (organizational affiliations for identification only)

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