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Hollywood stars rail against war talk

Celebrities stress diplomacy in confrontation with Iraq

Mike Farrell
Mike Farrell

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Actor Martin Sheen and other celebrities protest what they consider a looming threat of war with Iraq. CNN's Charles Feldman reports (December 10)
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Declaring "there is no need for war," a coalition of celebrities released a letter Tuesday calling on the Bush administration to stick with diplomacy to end the crisis with Iraq.

"War talk in Washington is alarming and unnecessary," read a letter signed by 104 people, most of them television and film actors.

"We are patriotic Americans who share the belief that Saddam Hussein cannot be allowed to possess weapons of mass destruction. We support rigorous United Nations weapons inspections to assure Iraq's effective disarmament."

The news conference at which the letter was released was one of several events throughout the day where individuals voiced opposition to the president's rhetoric on Iraq.

Mike Farrell, a longtime liberal activist, said U.S. threats to go to war if necessary to disarm Iraq may have been necessary to get Iraq to allow U.N. weapons inspectors to resume, but are now undercutting the inspectors' chances of success.

"I think what we're doing here is backing ourselves into a situation where it is not necessary to be at all," said Farrell, the former co-star of the Korean War-based series "M*A*S*H" and current co-star of the NBC drama "Providence."

Retired Rear Adm. Eugene Carroll, deputy director of the Center for Defense Information think tank, said preparation for war has "a momentum of its own."

"We've got the United Nations doing exactly what they were designed to do -- what we want them to do," said Carroll, who also signed the letter. "For God's sake, let's take 'yes' for an answer and end this march to war."

Actress and comedienne Janeane Garofalo, another signatory, said the Bush administration should let U.N. weapons inspectors do their job.

"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," she said.

In Washington, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer called the day's anti-war protests a "time-honored tradition" in democracy.

"The president agrees violence is not the answer in Iraq and that's why he hopes Saddam Hussein will disarm," Fleischer said.

Other signatories to the "win-without-war" letter include actresses Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange and Alfre Woodard, rock star Michael Stipe and actors David Duchovny and Matt Damon.

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