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Musicians join with antiwar group

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Russell Simmons, left, co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, discusses his opposition to war with Iraq as musician David Byrne looks on Thursday.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- A varied group of musicians -- from Russell Simmons to Lou Reed -- have joined forces with the antiwar group Win Without War to voice their continuing disenchantment with the Bush administration's policy on Iraq.

"I remember the Cuban missile crisis. That was right off our shore. We didn't go to war then," said classic musician Lou Reed, who watched the Twin Towers fall from his apartment in downtown Manhattan. "We don't have to go to war with Iraq. I think you should try everything conceivable first."

Asserting that the loose coalition -- called Musicians United to Win Without War -- is joining a growing chorus of protest against war with Iraq, Def Jam Recordings founder Russell Simmons promised a mobilization of younger Americans.

Referring to popular rap artists, he said, "Puffy is certainly more well-liked and well-known across the world than George Bush" and "Jay-Z is much more liked and well-known across the world than Colin Powell."

The group didn't give specifics on what they plan to do to voice their protest, although Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne said the group is in discussions with publications to continue their ad campaign, hoping to reach different audiences.

In response to a question about musicians feeling pressure not to speak out for fear of retribution, Byrne remarked, "You're talking about the Grammys, right? We weren't allowed to say anything, right?" implying that CBS, the network that aired the awards show, did stifle artists' desire to speak out against the war during the live broadcast.

Simmons wants the money that may be spent on war -- which some observers have projected as high as $200 billion -- to be spent on fighting the war on poverty.

"We are threatened as Americans because of the way our president carries himself," Simmons said. "He's the biggest threat in the world."

He added, "Don't misunderstand me," about Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. "But Saddam is the Iraqi's problem. George Bush is our problem as Americans."

The Def Jam founder said this statement did not reflect all the group members' feelings about Bush.

Tom Andrews, the national director of Win Without War, joined the musicians in the press conference and welcomed them to the coalition.

The group provided a long list of musicians who are taking part, including Rosanne Cash, R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe, Dave Matthews, Peter Gabriel and Suzanne Vega.


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