Former President Jimmy Carter says a unilateral attack on Iraq would not meet his criteria of a "just war" and would violate "basic religious principles" and "respect for international law."
In an opinion piece published in Sunday's editions of The New York Times, Carter says the United States has not exhausted all options for a peaceful resolution to the Iraq crisis. He says the Bush administration has presented an "unconvincing" case linking the Al Qaeda terror network to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and should more aggressively seek international support before taking military action.
"As a Christian and as a president who was severely provoked by international crises, I became thoroughly familiar with the principles of a just war, and it is clear that a substantially unilateral attack on Iraq does not meet these standards," Carter writes in the editorial.
Carter, who was awarded the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, says a war with Iraq could destabilize the Middle East and increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks on American soil.
"American stature will surely decline further if we launch a war in clear defiance of the United Nations," Carter writes. "But to use the presence and threat of our military power to force Iraq's compliance with all United Nations resolutions -- with war as a final option -- will enhance our status as a champion of peace and justice."