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Disarm Iraq Without War

Disarm Iraq Without War

Old Oct 12th 2002, 6:55 pm
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Default Disarm Iraq Without War

A Statement from Religious Leaders in the United States and United Kingdom

"Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (Isaiah 2:4)

As the calls for military action against Iraq continue from our two governments, despite the new
opening for U.N weapons inspections, we are compelled by the prophetic vision of peace to speak a
word of caution to our governments and our people. We represent a diversity of Chris-tian
communities - from the just war traditions to the pacifist tradition. As leaders of these communities
in the United States and the United Kingdom, it is our considered judgment that a preemptive war
against Iraq, particularly in the current situation would not be justified. Yet we believe Iraq must be
disarmed of weapons of mass destruction; and that alternative courses to war should be diligently

Let there be no mistake: We regard Saddam Hussein and his regime in Iraq as a real threat to his
own people, neighboring countries, and to the world. His previous use and continued develop-ment
of weapons of mass destruction is of great concern to us. The question is how to respond to that
threat. We believe the Iraqi government has a duty to stop its internal repression, to end its threats
to peace, to abandon its efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, and to respect the
legitimate role of the United Nations in ensuring that it does so. But our nations and the
interna-tional community must pursue these goals in a manner consistent with moral principles,
political wisdom, and international law. As Christians, we seek to be guided by the vision of a world
in which nations do not attempt to resolve international problems by making war on other nations. It
is a long-held Christian principle that all governments and citizens are obliged to work for the
avoidance of war.

We therefore urge our governments, especially President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, to pur-sue
alternative means to disarm Iraq of its most destructive weapons. Diplomatic cooperation with the
United Nations in renewing rigorously effective and thoroughly comprehensive weap-ons
inspections, linked to the gradual lifting of sanctions, could achieve the disarmament of Iraq without
the risks and costs of military attack.

We do not believe that preemptive war with Iraq: is a last resort, could effectively guard against
massive civilian casualties, would be waged with adequate international authority, and could
predictably create a result proportionate to the cost. And it is not clear that the threat of Saddam
Hussein cannot be contained in other, less costly ways. An attack on Iraq could set a prece-dent for
preemptive war, further destabilize the Middle East, and fuel more terrorism. We, there-fore, do not
believe that war with Iraq can be justified under the principle of a "just war," but would be illegal,
unwise, and immoral.


Whether we oppose all war, or reluctantly accept it only as a last resort, in this case the U.S.
government has not presented an adequate justification for war. Iraq has not attacked or directly
threatened the United States, nor is it clear that its weapons of mass destruction pose an immedi-ate
and urgent threat to neighboring countries or the world. It has not been credibly implicated in the
attacks of September 11. Under international law, including the U.N. Charter, the only cir-cumstance
under which individual states may invoke the authority to go to war is in self-defense following an
armed attack. In Christian just war doctrine, there are rigorous conditions even for an act of
self-defense. Preemptive war by one state against another is not permitted by either law or doctrine.
For the United States to initiate military action against Iraq without authorization by the United
Nations Security Council would set a dangerous precedent that would threaten the foundations of
international security. And under our domestic governance, the U.S. Congress and the U.K.
Parliament must also play a key role in authorizing any contemplated military ac-tion.


The potential social and diplomatic consequences of a war against Iraq make it politically un-wise.
The U.S. and the U.K. could be acting almost entirely alone. Many nations, including our European
allies and most of the Arab world, strongly oppose such a war. To initiate a major war in an area of
the world already in great turmoil could destabilize governments and increase political extremism
throughout the Middle East and beyond. It would add fuel to the fires of violence that are already
consuming the region. It would exacerbate anti-American hatred and produce new recruits for terror
attacks against the United States and Israel. A unilateral war would also undermine the continued
political cooperation needed for the international campaign to isolate terrorist networks. The U.S.
could very well win a battle against Iraq and lose the cam-paign against terrorism. The potentially
dangerous and highly chaotic aftermath of a war with Iraq would require years of occupation,
investment, and a high level of international cooperation--none of which have yet to be adequately
planned or even considered. And the Iraqi people themselves have an important role in creating
non-violent resistance within their own country with international support.


We are particularly concerned by the potential human costs of war. If the military strategy in-cludes
massive air attacks and urban warfare in the streets of Baghdad, tens of thousands of in-nocent
civilians could lose their lives. This alone makes such a military attack mor-ally unacceptable. In
addition, the people of Iraq continue to suffer severely from the effects of the Gulf War, the resulting
decade of sanctions, and the neglect and oppression of a brutal dicta-tor. Rather than inflicting
further suffering on them through a costly war, we should assist in re-building their country and
alleviating their suffering. We also recognize that in any conflict, the casualties among attacking
forces could be very high. This potential suffering in our own socie-ties should also lead to prudent

We reaffirm our religious hope for a world in which "nation shall not lift up sword against na-tion."
We pray that our governments will be guided by moral principles, political wisdom, and legal
standards, and will step back from their calls for war.

Sign this petition: http://www.sojo.net/action/#form
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