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[casi] Thoughts on war with Iraq – a position paper

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"An attack on Iraq would be unjustified, unnecessary and fraught with dangers."
Concerns about weapons of mass destruction can and should be dealt with diplomatically and do not 
constitute a justification for launching a military attack. Communist China already has an arsenal 
of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, as does Russia. We have managed to come 
to an accommodation with both these giants without going to war with them. Our own country is the 
leader in weapons of mass destruction and we are the only ones who have ever used an atomic bomb. 
The whole world must join in abolishing these terrible weapons -Iraq included.  But Iraq is a 
midget in the arena.
President Bush and the media continue to point out that Iraq is in violation of 16 UN resolutions.  
This is true and he must be pressed to adhere to these resolutions.  No mention is made, however, 
of the fact that Israel has been, and still is, in violation of over 65 UN resolutions, many of 
them for decades.  No one suggests that the world go to war with Israel.
The president seems intent on committing us to perpetual war. Some people, including myself, see 
Mr. Bush as "pursuing a strange personal vendetta, dragging our country into a Bush family grudge 
match with Saddam Hussein."  The father succeeded in demonizing Saddam and the son continues the 
same personal crusade. Yet we have dealt successfully with far greater monsters than such a two-bit 
dictator as Saddam and without going to war.  He is no Stalin; he is no Mao.
Furthermore Saddam has not attacked the United States. Twenty-six years have passed since that 
cloudless day on June 8, 1967 when Israel attacked the clearly marked USS Liberty in the 
Mediterranean for over two hours with aircraft and torpedo boats killing 34 young Americans and 
wounding 171. We did not go to war with Israel. In fact our government has hushed up the incident 
to the dismay and outrage of the survivors to this very day.  Saddam has never done anything to us 
like that.
It is stated that Saddam desires to acquire nuclear weapons.  This is terrible and should be 
prevented.  At the same time Israel is the only nation in the Middle East with nuclear weapons and 
has had them for a long time.  Israel lied and deceived the world for years about its nuclear 
arsenal until Mordechai Vannunu, a Jewish technician at Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant, blew the 
whistle on the secret and the truth was published in the London Sunday Times (1986).  This prisoner 
of conscience languishes in an Israeli prison today with a life sentence.
Saddam is a terrible dictator and the Iraqi people deserve better.  So do a lot of other Arab 
states deserve better. The Saudi and Mubarak regimes, for instance, are dictatorial- but we 
continue to prop up these regimes against the will of their people. We have supported tyrants 
around the world when it was in our interest. It should be remembered also that Saddam's greatest 
crimes were committed while he was our ally in the Iran-Iraq War. Revelations from top US military 
sources printed only recently in the New York Times prove that our government was aware of his use 
of poison gas on the Kurds and Iranians and said nothing at the time because he was our ally.  Now, 
of a sudden, it becomes a matter to be condemned.
An attack against Iraq could very easily play into the hands of extremists in the Middle East, 
giving them a political windfall at a time when all our attention should be focused on seriously 
pursuing Al-Qa’eda and those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. There is 
no reason to believe that Iraq had anything to do with the Sept. 11th attacks.  Most of the 
terrorists were spawned in Saudi Arabia and learned their Islamic extremism there- yet no one in 
Washington talks about attacking Saudi Arabia. Why?
In fact Saddam is a secular ruler in a secular state and he has much to fear from the likes of 
Osama bin Laden and his radical Al-Qa'eda gang.  They would love to overthrow Saddam and impose a 
theocracy.  What is important today is that the United States and the international community 
should be moving to resolve the concerns and grievances that are exploited by radical groups like 
Al-Qa'eda, not exacerbating them or creating new ones. It’s interesting that not long ago Osama 
bin Laden was Public Enemy # 1 - wanted “dead or alive.”  Now President Bush has pushed him 
aside, not having caught him, and Saddam has become the focus of attention.
A just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would do more to take the wind out of the 
terrorists' sails than any war with Iraq. President Bush has reasserted that "America stands 
committed to an independent and democratic Palestine, living side by side with Israel in peace and 
security."  He should take concrete steps to realize this vision. This is the festering sore in the 
Middle East.

The people of Iraq have suffered under more than a decade of economic sanctions, routine bombing 
and international isolation, all of which have also fostered greater, not less, dependency on the 
Iraqi regime.  A war on Iraq will likely kill hundreds of American troops and thousands of Iraqi 
civilians.  It will "destabilize the Middle East, alienate America's closest allies", and further 
radicalize the Arab world where Saddam is presently disliked. Why turn him into a hero? We 
cultivated and trained fanatics like of Osama to fight the Russians in Afghanistan.  Now sadly he 
has become a hero.  Let's not do the same with Saddam. Rather than more war it is intensive 
diplomatic effort that is urgently needed to avoid conflict. Economic sanctions and other 
restrictions have only impoverished and isolated the Iraqi people, once the most highly educated 
and advanced among the Arab nations.
As a Christian I oppose this senseless war.  A swelling chorus of religious leaders has denounced 
the President's war plans:  Catholic bishops from Australia to Britain, the Archbishop of 
Canterbury, and many Protestant leaders and theologians. As my friend Erasmus writes, "You cannot 
conceivably address a credible prayer to the Father of all men when you have just driven a sword 
into your brother's bowels….  War is sweet only to those who have never tasted it."
Finally, here are some questions we ought to ask of those presently so intent upon war:
What is the concrete evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction?
How long will American troops be in Iraq?  What's the plan to get them out and when?
Has the push for war come from the highest ranks of our military forces or from others who have 
their own motives for pushing us into war?  Are we to follow only the wishes of those who have 
never tasted war?
Are there hidden reasons why the president is pressing for war against Iraq? Forthcoming  November 
elections?  Distracting the nation from its economic problems? Oil – more oil?
Why don't our allies support us in this venture?
If we attack, will Iraq find new allies in the region among those who previously had no use for him?
How many Americans will die in such a war?  How many Iraqis?
How much money will be spent on this war?
Why is America now attacking without ever having been provoked or attacked by Iraq?
Ponder these issues.  Pray for peace.

Richard Cross,  Pax Christi

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