Skip to comments.Sean Penn Says War in Iraq Is Avoidable
Posted on 12/15/2002 8:39:16 AM PST by Libloather
Sean Penn Says War in Iraq Is Avoidable
Sun Dec 15, 7:05 AM ET
By Alistair Lyon
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - If a U.S.-led war with Iraq smears blood on his hands as an American citizen, Sean Penn wants to know why -- and he has come to Baghdad to find out.
"Absolutely I think war can be avoided, but obviously it's going to take enormous commitment on the part of the Iraqi government as well as the United States," the actor-director told Reuters television in an interview on Sunday.
"I will certainly do what I can to support that commitment to looking for other options," Penn said.
The former Hollywood bad boy and Oscar nominee paid for a $56,000 advertisement in the Washington Post in October accusing President Bush of stifling debate on Iraq.
He declined to renew his criticism of Bush on foreign soil, saying he would reserve political comments for his return home.
Bush has threatened war to topple President Saddam Hussein if he fails to abandon his alleged doomsday arsenal.
Penn said it would "suit us all" if Iraq fully disclosed any banned weapons it still has, but questioned whether U.S. national security concerns about this justified war.
Asked if his three-day trip to Baghdad might expose him to charges of lack of patriotism, Penn said he would be happy to debate anyone who made such accusations.
"I'm here for a simple reason, which is because I'm a patriot and an American who has benefited enormously from being an American, and because I had areas of personal concern and conscience that led me to come to Iraq.
"I believe, however I vote and whatever my perspective, that I do deserve the government I get," he said.
"And if there's going to be blood on my hands, I'm determined that it's not going to be invisible. That blood is not just Iraqi blood, it's the blood of American soldiers."
SMILING IN ADVERSITY
Penn's visit was organized by the Institute of Public Accuracy, a U.S. group of policy analysts.
He has toured a Baghdad children's hospital, wandered the streets without an Iraqi minder and had meetings with Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz and Health Minister Umeed Madhat Mubarak -- who gave him a hard time for his smoking habit.
Penn said he had been touched by the warmth of ordinary Iraqis despite the tension and suffering of their daily lives.
"I do find it very moving, you know, the strength of a smile in those circumstances, and the smiles that I saw were abundant," he said.
Penn's advertisement in the Washington Post took the form of an open letter in which he urged Bush to stop a cycle where "bombing is answered by bombing, mutilation by mutilation, killing by killing."
"Sacrificing American soldiers or innocent civilians in an unprecedented pre-emptive attack on a separate sovereign nation may well prove itself a most temporary medicine," he said.
More than 100 other American celebrities, including Hollywood stars Kim Basinger, David Duchovny and Mia Farrow, signed an open letter last week which said rigorous United Nations inspections were the best way to disarm Iraq, not war.
Asked to explain his interest in Iraq, Penn said it was the "current headline" for the Bush administration's war on terror.
"It's a war that is going to affect the generation of my children," he said.
"Because of the technology and the heightened desperation of the world today, I think it's very possible that we are facing the first century that will complete itself without mankind -- and that's not the future that I want for my children, or for their children," he declared.
Penn said his Iraq odyssey, by helping him to be aware of the times he lived in, could play into his professional life.
"Whatever story you have to tell, you have to be aware of who you are telling it to and what the benefit of it is, whether it's limited to amusement or a political statement, because short of that it's simply what someone does alone in a bathroom," the 42-year-old Californian said.
Did he hope to bridge the gap between American perceptions of Iraq and the reality?
"I have to start with bridging my own gap," he replied.
"Ultimately if I can do that in the way you expressed, that would be something I'd be very proud of."
Bring on the debates!
Oh he's doing research for a new movie. I figured this was all about something really important.
When his back is to the camera, you can see the strip of yellow CAUTION tape pinned to his collar.
Boy, aren't you glad the Dems have put experts on this case. I was hoping someone would finally step up to the plate.
What has got to be most Alice-in-Wonderful surrealistic aspect of the times in modern America is the attention the modern media gives to entertainers regarding foreign policy. It's absolutely astounding to me that these people, few of whom are even college graduates, are courted for their personal opinions on complicated issues, as if they know more than the average citizen.
Imagine if a gaggle of hairdressers, architects, or postal workers held a press conference to tell us what their position was on the War on Iraq. They'd be laughed out the door. Why are these ENTERTAINERS given the time of day?? They're ENTERTAINERS!!! (and not very good ones at that).
The phrase Potemkin village refers to the clever ruse by Russias Catherine the Greats minister and lover, Count Potemkin, to convince his employer of the health of the countryside. All along the carriage route taken by Catherine on one of her royal inspection tours, Potemkin ordered that false cottages and villages be built and that peasants be press-ganged into waving and smiling at their queen. The trick worked and has come to represent the cynical distance which the clever politician can put between symbolism and reality.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.