Iraq Petition Gains Steam

An online petition against U.S. invasion of Iraq circulating among American academic circles has kept up the pace of its first few days—collecting upward of 1,000 signatures a day, on average, over the last three weeks.

More than 350 Harvard affiliates, including 122 faculty members, have signed the petition, which was authored by a College alum.

After its first three days online, the petition had garnered 3,000 signatures. Since then, the drive has sustained that rate—over the last 18 days, the petition has accumulated 21,000 more signatures.

The petition’s author, David L. Fox ’91, said he has been impressed by the response generated “solely by word of mouth.”

“I wish we did not have to be doing this,” said Fox, who is an assistant professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Minnesota. “But given that we clearly don’t see eye-to-eye with the Bush administration, hopefully through the petition we can generate enough opposition that their drive to war is untenable.”

After Fox wrote the petition in early September, it came to the attention of MIT Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience Nancy Kanwisher, who posted it on the Internet at www.NoIraqAttack.org.

The petition argues that attacking Iraq is not justified without first gaining United Nations support and confirming that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction that pose an immediate threat. It also argues that invading Iraq would be more harmful than helpful to U.S. security.

Kanwisher said she is encouraged by the support fellow academics have shown for the petition.

“Given the already powerful opposition to this war by so many different sectors of society, I think there is still hope that we can prevent it,” she said. “I am hopeful that Web-based initiatives like this may eventually transform government, by providing the mechanisms that enable people to politically organize and to get their voices heard.”