American Historical Association Votes Against Iraq War

Historians Against the War sent out the following press release last week. HAW members are encouraged to share it with others, including colleagues in other countries who may find this stand by US historians to be encouraging.


American Historical Association Denounces the War in Iraq

In an unprecedented step, the nation’s oldest and largest professional association of historians, the American Historical Association (AHA), has ratified a resolution condemning government violations of civil liberties linked to the war in Iraq. The resolution urges members “to do whatever they can to bring the Iraq war to a speedy conclusion.”

In electronic balloting whose results were announced on March 12, over 75 percent of those voting supported the resolution, which was originally proposed by members of Historians Against the War (HAW), a national network of over two thousand scholars on more than four hundred campuses.

The resolution had gained earlier acceptance from members attending the AHA’s annual meeting in Atlanta on January 6, 2007, and from the AHA Council, which decided to send the resolution out for ratification because of its sensitive nature.

“The outcome indicates the deep disquiet scholars feel about damage done to scholarly inquiry and democratic processes by this misbegotten war,” said Alan Dawley, Professor of History at The College of New Jersey and a former winner of the prestigious Bancroft Prize, who was the initial mover of the resolution.

The American Historical Association was chartered by Congress in 1889. Past presidents include two United States presidents who were also historians, Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. President John F. Kennedy was also a member. According to current members, there is no instance in its 118-year history when the AHA has dissented from U.S. foreign policy.

In the weeks leading to the vote, many of the nation’s leading historians, such as Eric Foner of Columbia University and John Coatsworth of Harvard, both former AHA Presidents, endorsed the resolution. More than one hundred and fifty historians joined an on-line signature list for a supporting letter contained in the New York Review of Books March 15 edition (

For more information on the AHA and the resolution, go to For more information on Historians Against the War, go to

Other details issued from the A.H.A.March 12, 2007

Iraq War Resolution is Ratified by AHA Members

Members of the American Historical Association have ratified the “Resolution on United States Government Practices Inimical to the Values of the Historical Profession.” The vote was 1,550 (75.61%) in favor and 498 (24.29%) opposed. Two persons submitted incomplete ballots. The number of voting members represented 14.67% of the AHA membership.

The Resolution was originally accepted by the Council at the January 7, 2007 council meeting. Because it was received too late to be published in the December 2006 issue of Perspectives, and because of its intrinsic importance, the Council took the additional step of asking the membership to ratify the resolution. Members were informed of the voting process in the February edition of Perspectives. On February 15, 2007, members were sent an email* inviting them to participate in a special discussion forum blog from the February 15 to the 28th. The vote was held from March 1 to 9, 2007. Members wishing to review comments from the discussion forum on the resolution can visit the AHA member services page.

Resolution on United States Government Practices Inimical to the Values of the Historical Profession
Whereas, The American Historical Association’s Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct emphasizes the importance of open inquiry to the pursuit of historical knowledge;

Whereas, the American Historical Association adopted a resolution in January 2004 re-affirming the principles of free speech, open debate of foreign policy, and open access to government records in furthering the work of the historical profession;

Whereas during the war in Iraq and the so-called war on terror, the current Administration has violated the above-mentioned standards and principles through the following practices:

excluding well-recognized foreign scholars; condemning as “revisionism” the search for truth about pre-war intelligence;

re-classifying previously unclassified government documents;

suspending in certain cases the centuries-old writ of habeas corpus and substituting indefinite administrative detention without specified criminal charges or access to a court of law;

using interrogation techniques at Guantanamo, Abu-Ghraib, Bagram, and other locations incompatible with respect for the dignity of all persons required by a civilized society;
Whereas a free society and the unfettered intellectual inquiry essential to the practice of historical research, writing, and teaching are imperiled by the practices described above; and

Whereas, the foregoing practices are inextricably linked to the war in which the United States is presently engaged in Iraq; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the American Historical Association urges its members through publication of this resolution in Perspectives and other appropriate outlets:

1. To take a public stand as citizens on behalf of the values necessary to the practice of our profession; and

2. To do whatever they can to bring the Iraq war to a speedy conclusion.

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