Physicians for Social Responsibility's Open Letter to Bush

President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

We write to you on behalf of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), an organization which shares the Nobel Peace Prize and which represents over 20,000 U.S. physicians and health professionals deeply engaged with caring for our fellow humans and the social, economic, and ecological systems essential to health and well-being. We are profoundly concerned about the recent pronouncements, policies, and priorities of your Administration in the wake of the initial military response to the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

US military actions to capture or destroy Al Qaeda and eradicate its base of support from the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan have been supported by most Americans. These efforts are carried out with authorization from the United States Congress and in accordance with the UN Charter's right of self-defense. However, such authority was not intended as an unending license to permit unilateral, unauthorized attacks anywhere on the globe or to drastically escalate US military spending and overseas military bases, to promote massive arms transfers, and to conduct diplomacy by threat.

We are particularly disturbed by bellicose, provocative rhetoric and unilateral threats to sovereign nations, made outside the framework of international law and without the support of the international community. Such statements erode the honored place of the United States as a nation that has, at its best, not only defended freedom, but upheld human rights, international cooperation, humanitarian aid, and the rule of international law. We are specifically opposed to:

Taken together, these and other actions of your Administration are fueling anti-American sentiment worldwide. Coupled with inattention to economic development, medical and public health demands, environmental degradation, human rights, education and other needs both abroad and at home, such policies threaten, in the long term, to bring on the instability, conflict, and terrorism we all seek to prevent.

We therefore call upon you to renounce unilateral military actions and to carry out US foreign and military policies in accordance with international law. We call upon you to shift US priorities away from military solutions and toward nuclear disarmament, the diplomatic resolution of conflicts, and the fulfillment of worldwide human needs.

As President, we call upon you to lead Americans in overcoming fear and reclaiming our core democratic values after the tragic events of September 11.

This goal cannot be accomplished by military action alone. You must lead us in declaring our love of civil rights, freedom, and fairness. Lead us in a renewed American commitment to the painstaking work of peaceful, collaborative conflict resolution. Lead us to a world united in oneness of purpose as we confront global military and environmental threats to human health, sustainability, survival. Such leadership, we believe, will be most consistent with our long-term security interests and with America's deepest values. We will look forward to working along with you and with all Americans to achieve these aims.


Robert K. Musil, PhD, MPH
Executive Director and CEO
Physicians for Social Responsibility

Roy Farrell, MD
Physicians for Social Responsibility

[See PSR's website at:]

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This story was published on July 3, 2002.