One day after the November elections, the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches, holding its annual meeting in Orlando, called for “an immediate phased withdrawal of American and coalition forces from Iraq.” The withdrawal plan is linked to “benchmarks for rebuilding Iraqi society.”
Several of the United States’ allies remain among the world’s most egregious violators of human rights, according to a recent report from a nonpartisan federal panel, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Church leaders in many parts of the world, including General Secretary Samuel Kobia of the World Council of Churches, expressed relief and joy at the freeing of three members of Christian Peacemaker Teams held hostage in Iraq.
In a scene that has been repeatedly played since Operation Enduring Freedom commenced in Afghanistan four years ago, Michelle Naar-Obed left her home in December for a tour of duty. She knew, as did her husband, her 11-year-old daughter and her friends in Duluth, Minnesota, that she might never return.
A half century after the Nuremberg trials, the United Nations set up war crimes tribunals, in 1993 for Yugoslavia and in 1994 for Rwanda. Five years ago diplomats agreed to create a permanent International Criminal Court, inaugurated this year, for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
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.
"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.