War in Iraq
Indexing reports and comments from June through October, 2003
This page lists all postings June through October, 2003.
Click here for more
For earlier stories:
Presbyterian Peacemaking Program maintains a good page of
New books trace the radical policies and
practices of the Bush administration
We have been
warned often enough lately that pointing to the lies by our President and
his administration is tantamount to treason. Well, one recent letter to
the editor in the St. Cloud (MN)
Times, said that those who claim that the President has lied to us
"are bordering on treason." But Witherspoon Issues Analyst Gene TeSelle,
undeterred by the threats of the Patriot Acts present and yet to come,
offers a glimpse of five recent books that explore what they all view as
the lies propagated and perpetuated by our current administration. To
quote no less a patriot than Patrick Henry,
"If this be
treason, make the most of it."
You can now order these books directly from the page
linked at the top of this box, through Amazon.com
More on General Boykin's
We recently posted a note
about an article by James Carroll, published in the Boston Globe,
observing that it
"gives one of the best commentaries we've seen on the much-lamented (and
praised) statement by Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, who is commanding U.S.
efforts to capture the likes of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein."
a strong reaction from Jim
Berkley, Director of the Issues Ministry of Presbyterians for Renewal.
Since Mr. Berkley found the Carroll article so
offensive, we asked him about
another essay recently posted by Jim Wallis of Sojourners. He found
that one more acceptable. We think it's good too, and we're happy to share
Warring with God
James Carroll, writing in the Boston Globe, gives one of the
best commentaries we've seen on the much-lamented (and praised) statement
by Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, who is commanding U.S. efforts to capture
the likes of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. He acknowledges that this
"my God is bigger than your God" mentality seems inherent in the
monotheistic religions of revelation, with their exclusivist claims.
But, he continues, "there can be such a thing as an
inclusivist religious faith that rejects this way of thinking. Instead of
polarity, this other way of being religious assumes unity -- unity between
God and God's creation, which serves in turn as a source of unity among
God's creatures. This reconciling truth is what all the great religions --
certainly the three Abrahamic religions -- assert when they identify God,
most basically, not with conflict but with love." This "respectful
religious pluralism," he asserts, is desperately needed in today's world,
if we're to avoid religious wars on a whole new scale.
Witherspooners heard a similar message at last May's
General Assembly luncheon, where Dirk
Ficca spoke of our need for religious faith leavened by love and
respect for others - even in our in-house Presbyterian conflicts.
A thought for the day:
About the war and truth and lies
"The question of whether we were misled into the war
in Iraq isn't a liberal or conservative or Republican or Democratic
question, it's an American one. Protecting the democracy that we ask our
sons and daughters to die for is our responsibility and our trust.
Demanding accountability from our leaders is our job as citizens. It's
the American way. So may the truth win out."
- Bruce Springsteen
Source: Sojourners 2003 (c)
A new UN report says that religious rights are being undermined in
the name of fighting terrorism. [10-2-03]
Is a special prosecutor
needed in the case of a White House "leak" naming a CIA agent in order
to punish her husband?
If you think so, you might consider
this quick way to make your voice heard.
The invitation to act comes from MoveOn.org
Fund International Reconstruction of Iraq
Washington Office invites people to urge Congress to
fund international reconstruction in Iraq rather than military
Thoughts on Bush's speech to the UN
There's no shortage of commentary on President Bush's
address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, September 23.
But if you're looking for a sharp analysis putting the
speech in a wider context, take a look at
an essay by
William Rivers Pitt, the Managing Editor of
For starters, he begins with this quote:
"That's the spirit, George. If nothing else works,
then a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see
-- General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett, 'Blackadder Goes Forth'
9/11 - Remembering ... and acting for peace
In the midst of all today's appeals (or demands?) for
"patriotism," you might want to share a few moments with some of the
families of those who died on September 11th, 2001. They offer
sorrow, and even more, they offer hope.
September Eleventh Families For Peaceful Tomorrows have
issued a "Statement On the Second Anniversary of 9/11," which begins:
Two years ago today our loved ones were tragically
murdered in an act of terror that shook the United States and the world.
In the time since their deaths, as we continue our personal paths of
grieving, we are comforted by the thoughtful and compassionate response
of people all over the world who have offered sympathy and support to
the victims of these terrible attacks. But much about the US
government's approach to responding to our loved ones' deaths stands in
stark contrast to the common sense words and comforting actions of
ordinary people. On this two-year anniversary, we stop to reflect on the
dangerous course of current policies and to call for a new approach to
9/11 that is focused on bringing about true security and justice.
the rest of their statement.
These families also offer a number of
their own very
The War in Iraq is Not Over and Neither Are the Lies to Justify It
Zunes, an associate professor of Politics and chair of the Peace &
Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco, has
published a detailed examination of
Pres. Bush's Sept. 7th
speech telling us how well things are going in Iraq.
example, the President claimed that
"Our coalition enforced ... international demands in one of the
swiftest and most humane military campaigns in history."
of all, the initial invasion was almost exclusively an American
military operation with the exception of British leadership in
some southern parts of the country. It could therefore hardly be
referred to as a "coalition."
importantly, the invasion of Iraq was not an enforcement of these
"international demands." The United Nations Charter clearly states
that only the UN Security Council itself has the ability to
authorize military enforcement of its resolutions. The Security
Council, however, refused to authorize the United States to
enforce these resolutions through military means despite enormous
pressure by U.S. officials to do so.
Finally, it was hardly a humane military campaign. More than 5000
Iraqi civilians were killed in the U.S.-led assault, far
surpassing the number of American civilians killed in the
terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Originally posted by
Foreign Policy in Focus
also find it on the website of
The 100 Billion Dollar Error ...
... counting the cost of this
"Count the cost," said Jesus. Charles Henderson,
Presbyterian minister and manager of the
Christianity section of
about.com, reflects on the high costs of the administration's
"100 billion dollar error" in counting the costs of its war in Iraq.
He notes that "in his speech explaining the need
for the extra billions for Iraq, Bush called upon the American
people to make 'sacrifices.' But exactly who is being asked to
sacrifice? AIDS victims in Africa? US school children studying in
crumbling, overcrowded classrooms? Tens of thousands who will not
have the job training they desperately need in this jobless
Henderson concludes with this call:
"As Jesus suggested, ethics is not about moving
forward with blind faith, but rather involves a careful and faithful
evaluation of the consequences of one's decisions ... before making
them. It is high time that the American people as well as its
leaders become more faithful in this sense of the word."
|Back to the UN?
Here's a critical but thoughtful look at the
objectives and the limitations of the Bush administration's decision
to seek UN participation in the US occupation of Iraq.
Phylllis Bennis, writing in
Foreign Policy in Focus, points out what may be pretty
obvious by now:
|Washington's willingness to seek UN support is
not a sudden openness to multilateral action, but an effort to cut
the costs - financial, political, and military - of our
|UN participation would be kept under the firm
control of the US.|
|She suggests some things that should be done,
|opposition to any UN resolution that would
merely legitimate the U.S.-UK occupation of Iraq;|
|let a UN peacekeeping force return to Iraq
only after the U.S.-UK occupation has ended, with a very
|require the U.S. and the UK, as the
belligerent powers who initiated the war, to provide for the
humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. |
U.S. soldier in Iraq wonders: 'How many more must die?'
A soldier on active duty with the 101st
Airborne Division near Mosul, Iraq, writes to his home-town paper
about his growing disenchantment with the war he is required to
I once believed that I served for a cause: "to
uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Now, I no longer believe; I have lost my
conviction, my determination. I can no longer justify my service
for what I believe to be half-truths and bold lies. My time is
done as well as that of many others with whom I serve. We have all
faced death here without reason or justification.
Thanks to the
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
|The President calls on us to
pray, but he's still in charge [9-8-03]|
Bush recently proclaimed this past weekend, Friday, September 5
through Sunday, September 7, 2003, as
National Days of Prayer and Remembrance. We are invited to
"remember all that we lost as Americans and recognize all that we
have witnessed about the character of America."
A call to prayer such as this is a reminder that
the God to whom we pray is sovereign, that the world and its
unfolding are not in our control. Yet the President reveals his
deepest religious convictions, perhaps, with the concluding line of
his proclamation: "This conflict was
begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and
at an hour, of our choosing."
You'd think the last few months might have helped
him learn otherwise. Not yet, apparently.
WCC wants U.S. out of Iraq
The World Council of Churches' Central Committee has called for US forces
in Iraq to be replaced by UN personnel.
called for the U.N. Security Council "to insist on the establishment of a
legitimate, sovereign, elected and inclusive government as early as
possible, and (to order) the immediate and orderly withdrawal of the
A new look
at the real aims of the war in Iraq -- and their threat to what America
really means [8-12-03]
Stand Our Ground"
William Rivers Pitt, the Managing Editor of
www.truthout.org, gave the keynote
speech at the Veterans for Peace National Convention in San Francisco,
earlier in August. He gave one of the most comprehensive surveys I've seen
of America's shifting reasons for its war against Iraq and whoever else
might turn up. The old reasons (weapons of mass destruction, support of al
Qaeda, and all that) have faded into the mists of the falsehoods they
were; the new reason, given by one administration aide, is "to see the
spread of our values, and to understand that our values and our security
are inextricably linked."
New nuclear threats - from the US!
The Bush administration is working to resist nuclear
proliferation by developing more nuclear weapons. The government's
Strategic Command, meeting in Omaha last week, probably considering
possibilities such as the development of low-yield nuclear
earth-penetrating weapons, also referred to as nuclear bunker busters.
Such steps would open a new round of weapons development in other nations.
And the "bunker busters,' being relatively small weapons, would probably
blur the line between conventional and nuclear warfare. Further, those
weapons would likely generate large quantities of nuclear fallout - acting
as the "dirty bombs" the President so fervently condemns as a threat from
"Do as I say, not as I do" takes on new meaning.
in the Asia Times gives the details.
Thanks to Arch Taylor and the organization Global
Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
kind of victory is this? [7-29-03]
Howard Zinn looks at the "victory" of the new American Empire, and sees
the seeds of its own collapse beginning to appear: the lies revealed, the
growing resistance to our "liberation" among the people of Iraq, the
likely shift in public opinion as the war drags on and casualties
In a long-term perspective, he says:
There is a long history of imperial powers, gloating
over victories, becoming over-extended and overconfident, as their
citizens begin to get uneasy because their day-to-day fundamental needs
are being sacrificed for military glory while their young are sent to
die in wars. The uneasiness grows and grows, and the citizenry gather in
resistance in larger and larger numbers, and become too much to control,
and one day the top-heavy empire falls over.
Of calls for impeachment he says, "Of course, we do not
expect a craven Congress to impeach him. They were willing to impeach
Nixon for breaking into a building. They will not impeach Bush for
breaking into a country. ... Still, it is good to bring up impeachment,
because the Constitution allows it for 'high crimes and misdemeanors' and
it is an opportunity to discuss the high crimes of this government."
The Lutheran Peace Fellowship
has posted on their website what sounds like a great "game" to help people
learn about the real costs of the war - by using beans to show the number
of billions of dollars spent on the military in comparison to development
aid, UN peacekeeping, other forms of conflict resolution, and the Peace
The resource contains helpful ideas for action, once
people get an ideas of where their money is going - including contacting
20 Lies About the War
The Independent (in
the United Kingdom) provides a handy little list of "20 Lies About the
War." The authors say that "falsehoods ranging from exaggeration to plain
untruth were used to make the case for war. More lies are being used in
A few examples (each of which is followed by evidence of
1) Iraq was responsible for the 11 September attacks
2) Iraq and al-Qa'ida were working together
3) Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa for a "reconstituted" nuclear
8) US and British claims were supported by the inspectors
10) Iraq was obstructing the inspectors
13) War would be easy
16) The "rescue" of Private Jessica Lynch
17) Troops would face chemical and biological weapons
19) Iraq's oil money would go to Iraqis
20) WMD were found
Thanks to TruthOut
- a very helpful daily listing of news reports from many sources,
providing alternative views of the war.
"These Weapons of Mass Destruction cannot be displayed"
Just for fun:
For a little message about the war, try check out the
following search before google fixes it:
1. go to www.google.com
2. type in the search field: weapons of mass destruction
3. don't hit return, instead, hit the "i'm feeling lucky" button
4. read the error message
Or if that doesn't work, go directly to
So what about all
Peter Sawtell, Executive
Director of Eco-Justice Ministries, reflects on the emerging "pattern of
lies" from the Administration in Washington – those used to justify the
invasion of Iraq, as well as those being trotted out to justify the
continual downgrading of environmental protections.
German scholars ponder American Empire
Martin Marty summarizes comments from four scholars in Germany as they
observe the rise of the new "American Empire." Their remarks are moderate
in tone, but reflect clear concern - in the words of David Rieff - about
the Bush administration's "irenic, unshakeable belief ... that an American
empire will never be corrupted by its own power in the way that all
previous empires in human history have been; that it will, by
definition, be a force for good in the world," and that any questioning of
that certainty is ... un-American.
|There's a very funny little
"computer error message" on the web. It begins:
These Weapons of Mass Destruction cannot be displayed. The weapons
you are looking for are currently unavailable. The country might
be experiencing technical difficulties, or you may need to adjust
your weapons inspectors' mandate.
But you should really
see the whole
Thanks to Herb Valentine
On the occupation of Iraq:
Is there anything left that matters?
Sister Joan Chittister, a long-time worker for
justice, peace, and equality for women in the Church and in society,
listens to the Administration claiming that while we haven't caught
Osama bin Laden, it doesn't matter. And we haven't found Saddam
Hussein, but that doesn't matter either. And the "weapons of mass
destruction" for which President Bush led us so boldly into war?
They don't seem to be there. But that doesn't matter either.
But, she says, the suffering we have caused to the
people of Iraq; the cost to people in the United States whose
support is being cut supposedly because of the cost of the war; the
Americans who have lost loved ones in the fighting or the accidents;
the systematic undermining of the integrity and authority of the UN
- these matter.
"The unspoken truth is that either as a people we
were misled, or we were lied to, about the real reason for this war.
Either we made a huge ---- and unforgivable ---- mistake, an
arrogant or ignorant mistake, or we are swaggering around the world
like a blind giant, flailing in all directions while the rest of the
world watches in horror or in ridicule."
It's time, she concludes, for the people of this
nation - that claims to be a democracy - to do their duty and stop
the lies, the deceptions, the terrible waste of this war. These
things do matter.
Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
for Life" website
Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck,
a Presbyterian minister currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Click here for his blog posts.
Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores
the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens
neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City
Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon
board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!