The unfinished war in Iraq is the war that keeps on killing. Not least, it keeps on killing American troops. The death toll for American soldiers is steadily mounting. Last summer the Associated Press reported that attacks on U.S. forces were occurring “almost hourly—too frequent for military press officers to keep up with,” and the situation has not improved.
Regardless of what one thought of the legal and moral justification of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, or of the prudence of that action, now that the U.S. is there it has moral and legal obligations to Iraq, to the region and to its citizens.
Many Democrats in Congress and plenty of other Americans find it hard to stomach President Bush’s $87 billion request for military and reconstruction projects in Iraq and Afghanistan. About $20 billion of that total is slated for rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure—its highways, schools, houses, hospitals, electricity system, water supply and communications.
The chief international correspondent of CNN, Christiane Amanpour, was asked her opinion of the U.S. media’s coverage of the Iraq war. She responded: “I think the press was muzzled and I think the press self-muzzled. Television . . .
Many of those who were skeptical about the U.S. invasion of Iraq, including the editors of this magazine, worried that sweeping away the devil of Saddam Hussein would—as in the parable in Luke 11—make way for several other kinds of devils. The devils appear alive and well in Iraq.
It’s easy to define a lie: it is a statement the speaker knows is not true. Being truthful is more complex. As Bonhoeffer argued, character matters. A truth told by an untruthful person could be worse than a lie told by a truthful person. And context matters too. What, for example, is the truthful response to a murderer who shows up at your door in search of your friend whom he intends to murder?
The air is thick with politics. Reportedly some 60 different political groups have emerged here since the end of the war. Driving around Baghdad, one suddenly comes upon a building surrounded by men with guns. Groups are staking their postwar claims to the real estate. In one case, the soldiers turned out to be members of a Kurdish party.
The truck next to me at the stoplight had these words pasted across the back window: “I Have a Son in the Army.” There was no flag decal, no “I’m proud to have” in front of the words, just the fact. I imagined that this son was in Iraq, and that this father was thinking about him as he waited for the light to change.
The claim that Saddam Hussein was linked to 9/11 was always fraudulent, but at least half of the American public believe that there is a connection. While the White House never made such a claim overtly, rhetoric leading to the invasion of Iraq always implied the connection, and was bolstered by the war cheerleading of conservative cable TV and print commentators.
A strange king is likely to have a strange kingdom, and the kingdom of Jesus is no exception. The kingdom of Christ is a multilateral community, marked by a deep mutual love and an ongoing push to ever greater love. Our difficulty is not in envisioning the image of community. Our trouble comes with the necessity of confronting those situations in which community is broken, or worse, in which human beings are attacking other human beings. What are the international implications of these readings?