Americans are fearful these days. September 11 snatched from us (forever?) a feeling of invincibility, a sense of being safe and secure from foreign invasion. Now we keep getting homeland security warnings about the probability of another terrorist attack. Besides that, a crazed sniper is on the loose around Washington, D.C.
The numbers of Christians living in Iraq, mostly Catholic and Orthodox, have been dwindling for more than two decades. One exodus of Christians began during the prolonged Iran-Iraq war that stretched from 1979 to ’88. The short, violent gulf war of 1991 was followed by 11 years of United Nations economic sanctions, which church leaders say have made life miserable and survival tenuous for many.
Barring a miracle or the sudden discovery of a moral backbone in Congress, President Bush will get his mandate to attack Iraq. Although the U.S. didn’t attack either the Soviet Union or the People’s Republic of China when both were well stocked with nuclear arms, we now want to attack a small country because it has the potential to do us harm.
As I have listened to the discussions about Saddam Hussein and Iraq, some disturbing questions have arisen. As an ordinary citizen with no special expertise in foreign policy, I am unable to get to the bottom of them.
When he was running for president, George W. Bush decried “nation building.” It was not the task of the U.S., he insisted, to bring order to chaotic countries. The U.S. may be the global cop, but it is not the global social worker.
"Wars are not won on the defensive,” asserts Vice President Dick Cheney. “We must take the battle to the enemy and, where necessary, preempt grave threats to our country before they materialize.” For the Bush administration, this policy appears to include a preemptive strike against Iraq, which is viewed as another installment in its war against terrorism.
The U.S.’s stated plan to take out Iraqi president Saddam Hussein is deeply troubling. To begin with, the American people, including the leaders of Congress, have not been offered convincing evidence that Hussein is an imminent threat to the security of the U.S. or of Israel or of Iraq’s other neighbors. Further, it is not clear what would happen if Hussein were removed.