Former President Jimmy Carter opened the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Chicago Monday with a challenge to young people to stand up against unnecessary wars and hold the U.S. government accountable for making preemptive strikes.

“For the last 60 years, our country has been almost constantly at war. Now we are contemplating going to war again, perhaps in Iran,” said Carter, one of 21 Nobel Peace Prize laureates and organizations participating in a three-day international conference in Chicago. “I’m not against all wars… but any war should begin only as a last resort and after every possible means of resolution has been exhausted.”

As the only remaining global super power, Carter said in a speech during the opening luncheon at the University of Illinois at Chicago Forum, the United States has a responsibility to set a standard for others to follow. But in some cases, he said, the U.S. has engaged in wars that were “completely unnecessary.”

Carter also said the U.S. needs to take a closer look at its policy of economic sanctions, including those against countries such as North Korea.

“Embargoes don’t injure the leader but those serving under the oppressive regime,” said Carter. “We need to find a way to feed the starving children in North Korea and at the same time, not exalt the leaders of North Korea.”

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