March 31, 2003

The Hon. Richard A. Gephardt

United State House of Representatives

Washington, D.C.

Dear Congressman Gephardt,

        It is with considerable regret but also with a sure conviction that I write to inform you that I can no longer support your candidacy for President of the United States.

        As you are well aware I have had the most serious reservations about our government’s Iraq policy for a very considerable period of time.  No one has yet explained to me what action the government of Iraq took in the late spring or early summer of 2002 which propelled it and its people into our gunsights.  No one has explained to me why the resolution passed by the Congress last year was needed or justified by events.  No one has explained to me why the United States believes it has the right to engage in battle against Iraq without a clear, unambiguous resolution from the United Nations.  And no one has explained to me why the United States shunted diplomacy and the United Nations aside and took unilateral military action against the people of Iraq at a time when all evidence pointed to the fact that UN inspectors were making progress in Iraq.

        Lacking such explanations, I have been driven to the conclusion that my country is in the wrong war at the wrong time against the wrong enemy for the wrong reason.

        Most of the world, including a great many citizens of countries long considered to be friends of ours, and in particular a majority of the peoples of Great Britain, our staunchest ally, have, as best I can determine, voiced overwhelming opposition to the actions of our government.  From what I read and hear much of the world has concluded that this war is not about

Rep. Richard Gephardt- 2 -March 31, 2003


what our President tells us it is about – liberation -- but is rather about revenge and oil.  Whether that is the case I will leave up to history.  But I can say now that I feel greatly disturbed by our government’s unilateral actions and its assertion that everyone is out of step but us.

        I had hoped – against hope, as it turned out – that you would speak out  forcefully against the President’s course of action prior to the commencement of hostilities.  (It was precisely for that reason that I asked to meet privately with you, and I appreciated your agreeing to do so.)  You chose not to speak out.  I am sure you have your reasons for arriving at the conclusion you came to.

        As you know I have greatly admired the leadership which you have given over the years to the issues of workers’ rights and environmental rights.  I believe that of all the serious Democratic candidates now in the field, you have by far the best understanding of the retreat which the federal government has made over the years in its support for the poorest among us, for those trapped in inner cities, and for small hard working farmers.  It was because of these issues that I chose to join your campaign.

        Unfortunately, Congressman, I believe that all these issues pale before the new foreign policy which our government has embarked upon.  Might does not make right, and what we as a people are now doing is just plain wrong.  Not to mention stupid.  If not reversed our present course of action will, I believe, inflame fundamentalist beliefs throughout Islam, and the next generation will pay dearly for this holy crusade against “the axis of evil”.

        My friends tell me the horse is already out of the barn, the milk spilt.  That may well be the case, but I firmly believe the world – and my fellow countrymen -- must be told that a significant portion of the citizens of this country vehemently disagree with the course of action the United States is presently taking.   It is clear to me that you have chosen not to lead this opposition.

Rep Richard A. Gephardt- 3 -March 31, 2003


        Senator Eugene McCarthy became, however reluctantly, the voice of dissent against an earlier American military/diplomatic blunder.  I believe that mantle today has been picked up by Governor Howard Dean.  As I backed McCarthy in ’68 precisely because he was the voice of reason crying in the wilderness, so I have concluded I must come to the support of his successor today.


    I continue, Congressman, to have the highest regard for you in matters domestic, and wish you well.



John M. Pratt

State Representative


Cc:Gov. Howard Dean

Mr. Jim Demers