Meanwhile, the heads of more than 60
prominent Christian organisations have also
written to the president, urging him not to attack Iraq. They said that
any attack would be in breach of the traditional Christian doctrine of just
With due respect to the sincerity of all
these letter writers, it sometimes seems that, as with many other ethical
matters, you first take your stand and then you look for the Christian
doctrine or biblical passage that supports your position.
In any case, once you start to read your
Bible you have to ask where notions of just war derive. How can any war –
almost inevitably involving the slaughter of innocent victims - be called
just, or biblical? On matters of war I sometimes wonder if the truest
Christians aren’t the pacifists like
Stanley Hauerwas. It’s hard to avoid the suspicion that Christian
just war theory is simply an attempt to circumvent the clear teachings
Yet life itself is not just. And
Christians are called to be salt to our world. We are called to restore
Do you remember the killing fields of
Kampuchea, when General Pol Pot initiated the massacre of any Cambodian
deemed ideologically unsound? Around two million innocent people were
Does any Christian really think it would
have been an injustice to eliminate Pol Pot?
And hands up all the Christians who think
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was wrong to try to kill Adolf Hitler?
Here are some excerpts from a letter to
The Australian newspaper from Dr Leanne Piggott, lecturer in Middle
East Studies at the University of Sydney:
At the end of the Gulf war in 1991 the
Shiites of southern Iraq rose up in rebellion against Saddam to try to shake
off the dictatorship under which they had been living. The uprising was
brutally crushed by the Iraqi army and Saddam’s nine internal security
services. For example, in Amara (near Basra), they made the Shiites, or
anyone who looked religious, lie down in the streets and then buried them
alive under asphalt. Some 60,000 to 70,000 people were killed in and around
Amara in 1991. During the 1990s, the regime killed about 300,000 Shiites in
In the Anfal campaign in the late 1980s,
the Iraqi regime destroyed 4,000 Kurdish villages in the north of the
country. Between 100,000 and 150,000 Kurds were killed, some with poison
gas. Around a million more people were sent into internal exile.
Since 1979, Saddam has been directly
responsible for the deaths of approximately one million Iraqi citizens and a
further one million Iraqi soldiers who died in wars which he instigated
against Iran and Kuwait.
Between 1.5 and 2 million Iraqis have
been internally displaced and a further 4.5 million Iraqi refugees are
scattered across the globe. Altogether, 10 per cent of the Iraqi population
has been killed or deported.
Now, I wish that the
US would show some repentance about its early support for Saddam Hussein. I
wish it had worked harder to stop the expansion of Israeli settlements on
the West Bank. I wish it would speak out more on Tibet and East Timor and
many other regions of suffering. I wish oil were not involved. I wish. I
But do not the Iraqi people deserve some
justice? How much longer must their suffering continue?
Christians are called upon to be salt to
this world. Salt sometimes stings. Saddam Hussein is engaged in genocide
against his own people. I would ask my fellow Christians: where is the
justice in not removing him from power?
October 29th, 2002
War on Iraq – How Did I Get It Wrong?
I supported an invasion.
September 20th, 2006