R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, Matt Damon, Kim Basinger and Samuel L. Jackson, along with 100 other celebrities, have signed a letter urging President Bush not to go to war with Iraq.
"We feel that military action in Iraq will allow the terrorists to fan the flames of anti-American sentiment and further destabilize the Middle East," one of the letters signatories, actress Janeane Garofalo ("Reality Bites"), told CNN.
The letter's contents were announced in a press conference Tuesday (December 10).
"War talk in Washington is alarming and unnecessary," reads the letter, which was put together by Artists United to Win Without War, a new group founded by former "M*A*S*H" star Mike Farrell, who will soon star as much-maligned former Enron executive and Bush pal Ken Lay in a TV movie called "The Crooked E."
"We are patriotic Americans who share the belief that Saddam Hussein cannot be allowed to possess weapons of mass destruction," the letter continues. "We support rigorous United Nations weapons inspections to assure Iraq's effective disarmament."
Laurence Fishburne, David Duchovny and Ethan Hawke, along with the traditionally outspoken Alec Baldwin, Harry Belafonte, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Barbra Streisand and Martin Sheen, also signed the letter. They were joined by a former U.S. envoy to Iraq and a retired admiral.
"We've got the United Nations doing exactly what they were designed to do — what we want them to do," retired Rear Adm. Eugene Carroll, who now serves as deputy director of the Center for Defense Information think tank, insisted to CNN. "For God's sake, let's take 'yes' for an answer and end this march to war."
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer reportedly responded that, "the president agrees that violence is not the answer in Iraq, and that's why he hopes Saddam Hussein will disarm."
Letter signatory and Emmy-winning actor Ed Asner, star of the 1970s TV series "Lou Grant," accused Bush of using a possible war for political gain. "If he defuses it he'll look like a wuss to the hard-liners and the fundamentalists," Asner told one news service. "He's already lost the left, and it's 50-50 on the center, and he'll likely lose some of the right [without an invasion of Iraq]."