The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
Telegraph (UK) March 24, 2002 Church accuses Blair of 'cruel thirst for vengeance' By Jonathan Petre, Religious Affairs Correspondent THE Church of England is on a collision course with the Government over Iraq by producing a report for bishops which argues that an attack on Saddam Hussein would be immoral and seen as the "cruel thirst for vengeance". The report, by the Church's Board for Social Responsibility, says that it would be difficult to see how Western military action in Iraq could meet the criteria of being a just war. Instead, in an implicit criticism of the hardening stance being taken by Tony Blair, the briefing paper says that calls for such action merely "reflect the priorities of American foreign policy". It adds that the Church would also have "grave concerns" about inter-faith relations in Britain in the wake of an attack on another Muslim country such as Iraq. The paper follows Wednesday's warning by Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, that Britain would be ready to launch a nuclear strike against states such as Iraq if they used weapons of mass destruction against British forces. His words came as officials in Washington and London privately predicted that military action to topple Saddam was likely at the end of the year. Although Mr Hoon denied that a decision had been taken on such action, his comments about nuclear arms fuelled beliefs that preparations were being considered. The private paper by the Church's board, chaired by the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Rev Tom Butler, is not policy but a strong indication of Church thinking. It says that, for a war to be just, it has to have "proper authority and right intent". It continues: "It is difficult to see how either of these have been met in the case of Iraq." No explicit UN resolution existed that would legitimise military action, and it was hard to see, given the lack of international consensus, how this could be achieved. Although Mr Blair originally played down talk of action against Iraq because Saddam was not linked to the September 11 attacks, ministers have since said that such an operation would be justified because Iraq is in breach of UN resolutions and Gulf war ceasefire agreements. The paper says: "Although it is important not to understate the potential threat posed by Iraq, no convincing evidence has been presented to support the argument that Iraq is rebuilding its WMD [weapons of mass destruction] programme or that Iraq poses an immediate threat to regional and international security. "Instead, the arguments put forward in favour of action reflect the priorities of American foreign policy. This would be difficult to square with the Government's interpretation of the legal position. Any such attack could be perceived as the `cruel thirst for vengeance'. "An attack on another Muslim country - particularly one with no proven link to the September 11 atrocities - would be taken by many as evidence of an in-built hostility to the Islamic world. . . The consequence for inter-faith relations of an attack on Iraq must therefore be of grave concern." The paper was dismissed by Ann Widdecombe, the former Tory minister. "If Saddam is stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, it is not vengeance but self-defence to stop him," she said. "I don't know where the Church gets its information that he isn't stockpiling such weapons. Perhaps they get secret intelligence reports every day?" _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk