Iraq Crisis

They will receive justice without mercy who have shown no mercy. James 2:13a

Her nobles within her are like wolves that tear prey, shedding blood and destroying lives to get unjust gain. Ezekial 22:27

All are invited to join in a nine day novena of prayers for peace in the Persian Gulf, beginning Saturday, November 14th, and ending Sunday, November 22nd, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows for peace in the Persian Gulf

Angelus in Time of War

Interview with Chaldean Patriarch Bidawid, from the Zenit News Service.

Iraq at Al-Bushra, from the page of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, excellent collection of resources.

Yahoo News: Iraq Escalation

Iraq Crisis page at Yahoo

Voices in the Wilderness a campaign to end the economic sanctions against the people of Iraq.

Catholic Worker resources about the crisis in Iraq

IraqNet Information Network, expatriate Iraqis on the internet. News Center access to a variety of interesting news sources about the situation in the Persian Gulf.

Iraq under United Nations Sanctions, from the Long Island (NY) Mosquepage.

Pax Christi index at

Resources from the Iraq Escalation Crisis of February 1998. That one cost a billion dollars, by the way.

Appeal of the Chaldean Patriarch of Iraq to the American People, during the previous escalation, February 1998

US Cardinals Declare: Iraqi Escalation is not a Just War (and the embargo isn't much better), February 1998

Statement by Congressman Ron Paul upon introducing HR 3208, a resolution to stop President Clinton from initiating hostilities in the Persian Gulf. February 1998

Fools With Tools: American Power and Iraq Most Rev. Charles Chaput, O.F.M.Cap., Archbishop of Denver, critiques the conventional wisdom on American power in the world.

Again the government of the United States moves to make war against the people of Iraq. As if there wasn't enough trouble and tragedy in the world, President Clinton must wag his dog and thus Iraqi people must die.

The answer to every problem these days seems to be more guns, more bombs, more dead children. The cry of the widow and the orphan is heard, and the blood of the innocent cries out for justice.

But justice is not what they will receive from the leaders of the so-called "Industrialized Democracies", and President Clinton is their leader of the moment. He can be photographed receiving the Holy Eucharist and kneeling in apparent prayerful repentance, yet he turns around and prepares to murder children in pursuit of an insane foreign policy that is likely to have the same results as the foreign policy of the Allies towards Germany after World War I.

I invite all to review the criteria for a just war and discern whether the current US military and economic policy towards Iraq qualifies as a just war.

Robert Waldrop, Justpeace webservant

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Just War

The following quotations are taken from the US Bishops pastoral letter, The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response. They seem a bit timely given current news.

83. . . . Only the most powerful reasons may be permitted to override such objection (to war). In the words of Pope Pius XII: "The Christian will for peace. . . is very careful to avoid recourse to the force of arms in the defense of rights which, however legitimate, do not offset the risk of kindling a blaze with all its spiritual and material consequences."

84. The determination of when conditions exist which allow the resort to force in spite of the strong presumption against it is made in light of jus ad bellum criteria. . . 85. Jus ad Bellum. Why and when recourse to war is permissible:

86. a. Just Cause: War is permissible only to confront "a real and certain danger," i.e., to protect innocent life, to preserve conditions necessary for decent human existence, and to basic human rights. As both Pope Pius XII and Pope John XXIII made clear, if war of retribution was ever justifiable, the risks of modern war negate such a claim today.

87. b. Competent Authority: in the Catholic tradition, the right to use force has always been joined to the common good; war must be declared by those with responsibility for public order, not by private groups or individuals. . .

92. c. Comparative Justice. Questions concerning the means of waging war today, particularly in view of the destructive potential of weapons, have tended to override questions concerning the comparative justice of the positions of respective adversaries or enemies. In essence: which side is sufficiently "right" in a dispute, and are the values at stake critical enough to override the presumption against war? The question in its most basic form is this: do the rights and values involved justify killing.

95. d. Right intention. Right intention is related to just cause -- war can be legitimately intended only for the reasons set forth above as a just cause. During the conflict, right intention means pursuit of peace and reconciliation, including avoiding unnecessarily destructive acts or imposing unreasonable conditions (e.g., unconditional surrender.)

96. e. Last Resort. For resort to war to be justified, all peaceful alternatives must have been exhausted.

98. f. Probability of success. This is a difficult criterion to apply, but its purpose is to prevent irrational resort to force or hopeless resistance when the outcome of either will clearly be disproportionate or futile.

100. g. Proportionality: in terms of the jus ad bellum criteria, proportionality means that the damage to be inflicted and the costs incurred by war must be proportionate to the good expected by taking up arms. Nor should judgments concerning proportionality be limited to the temporal order, without regard to a spiritual dimension in terms of "damage", "cost", and the "good expected". In today's interdependent world, even a local conflict can affect people everywhere; this is particularly the case when the nuclear powers are involved. Hence a nation cannot justly go to war today without considering the effect of the action on others and the international community.

104. Moreover, the lives of innocent persons may never be taken directly, regardless of the purpose alleged for doing so. To wage truly "total" war is by definition to take huge numbers of innocent lives. Jus response to aggression must be discriminate; it must be directed against unjust aggressors, not against innocent people caught up in a war not of their making. The council therefore issues its memorable declaration: "Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.

105. When confronting choices among specific military options, the question asked by proportionality is: once we take into account not only the military advantages that will be achieved by using this means but also all the harms reasonably expected to follow from using it, can its use still be justified? We know, of course, that no end can justify means evil in themselves, such as the executing of hostages or the targeting of non-combatants. Nonetheless, even if the means adopted is not evil in itself, it is necessary to take into account the probable harms that will result from using it and the justice of accepting these harms. It is of utmost importance, in assessing harms and the justice of accepting them, to think about the poor and the helpless, for they are usually the ones who have the least to gain and the most to lose when war's violence touches their lives.

107. Finally, another set of questions concern the interpretation of the principle of discrimination. The principle prohibits directly intended attacks on non-combatants and non-military targets. It raises a series of questions about the term "intentional," the category of "non-combatant," and the meaning of "military."

108. These questions merit the debate occurring with increasing frequency today. . . Mobilization of forces in modern war includes not only the military, but to a significant degree the political, economic, and social sectors. It is not always easy to determine who is directly involved in a "war effort" or to what degree. Plainly, though, not even by the broadest definition can one rationally consider combatants entire classes of human beings such as school-children, hospital patients, the elderly, the ill, the average industrial worker producing goods not directly related to military purposes, farmers, and many others. They may never be directly attacked.

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