The weekly death tolls in Iraq have recently decreased—for four reasons: The U.S. troop “surge” has restricted the flow of explosives into Baghdad; ethnic cleansing has been completed in many areas; the Mahdi Army has suspended its attacks; and the U.S. is co-opting Sunni insurgents.
The Valley of Elah is the legendary spot between two mountains where, according to 1 Samuel, young David slew the mighty Philistine warrior Goliath. The site is an appropriate allusion for writer-director Paul Haggis’s movie about the American experience in Iraq. In the Valley of Elah posits that the U.S. may be the military Goliath brought down by hit-and-run insurgents.
On the sixth anniversary of 9/11 I joined a spokesperson for the American Muslim community on a panel focusing on the lasting effects of 9/11 on “faith, media and society.” The presentation by Imam A. Malik Mujahid, chair of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, was illuminating—and discomforting.
After keeping a collective silence in 2003 and 2005, the majority of delegates to this year’s biennial General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) expressed moral opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
One of the lectionary texts on the Sunday after 9/11 was Psalm 51, which traditionally has been understood as King David’s plea to God to have mercy on his sins. One pastor that Sunday used the psalm to ask whether the events of 9/11 were a judgment on the United States: Was the U.S. in some way culpable for the evil actions of the terrorists? His congregation would have none of it.
Journalistic kudos to New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt, who In a July 8 column headed “Seeing Al Qaeda Around Every Corner” criticized his own newspaper’s coverage of President Bush’s jingoistic speech on June 28 to the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, as well as the newspaper’s carelessness in reporting on the president’s July 4 address to a military audience in West Virg
Tom Fox, 54, a peace activist and a member of Langley Hill Friends Meeting in McLean, Virginia, was kidnapped in Iraq in November 2005 along with three other members of Christian Peacemaker Teams—Norman Kember, 74, of Britain; and James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, both of Canada.
Jeremy M. Loveless. Nathanael J. Doring. Richard A. Bennett. James A. Funkhouser. J. Adan Garcia. According to a recent article in the New York Times, these are the names of the five soldiers killed in Iraq over the three-day Memorial Day weekend this year. If I had nothing else to say in this column, I would also name the 24 soldiers killed over Memorial Day weekends since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, along with the 4,000-some Americans who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq since the wars in those countries began. I wish I could also name the Afghan and Iraqi dead, but I do not know anyone who keeps track of their names.
Can you outsource a war? The Bush administration seems to be trying to do just that in Iraq, where it has relied to an unprecedented extent on private companies such as Halliburton and Blackwater to prosecute the war. Before the recent surge in troops, there were about as many private contractors—125,000—in the war zone as regular troops. Between 25,000 and 50,000 of these contractors protect military bases and the Green Zone, guard key personnel, provide escorts for convoys and train Iraqi soldiers. Who is accountable for the close to $4 billion that has gone to these “security services"? And to whom are these mercenaries accountable morally and legally?
A Christian leader from Iraq has warned that Christianity may disappear from his country if no action is taken to stem the hardships faced by this minority community in the predominantly Muslim country.