War in Iraq
Indexing reports and comments from all of 2006
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Presbyterian Peacemaking Program maintains a good page of
Anti-War Movement Deserves Some Credit
call it marginal, but organized push swayed world opinion
Tom Hayden, a former California state senator, was a
leader of the anti-Vietnam war movement, and now teaches at Pitzer College
in Claremont (Los Angeles County). He argued recently in the San Francisco
Chronicle that while the media seem to think the opposition to the U.S. war
in Iraq has appeared out of nowhere, in fact a variety of groups on the left
have been working successfully over the past few years to advance a critical
understanding of the war and U.S. foreign policy in general.
He concludes that
If ever consulted, anti-war voices might propose the
•First, seek a dialogue with anti-occupation forces in
Iraq, from politicians to insurgents, to work toward a cease-fire and a
longer-term conflict resolution process.
•Second, announce the withdrawal timetable that about 80 percent of Iraqi
people and 60 percent of the American people want.
•Third, initiate a diplomatic offensive, beginning with Iran, to seek
regional global assistance in dealing with security, reconciliation and
Hmm. Does that sound a little like the Baker-Hamilton
report? Not quite, but there is a resemblance, at least.
Read the full essay >>
The looming question of Iraq
– some comments
We recently posted a bit of Michael
Moore's declaration that in Iraq today, "cut and
run [is] the only brave thing to do."
We've quickly received three thoughtful -- and quite
different -- responses.
We should follow Sen. McCain’s
advice, and send more troops as needed, to win.
The Rev. John Erthein responded thus:
I hope you and yours had a nice Thanksgiving holiday.
You asked for various perspectives about the US role in
Iraq. I would like to provide you with
Senator John McCain's perspective, which is opposite that of Michael
Thank you for your graciousness in providing a forum on
the Witherspoon site for different points of view, including ones you
undoubtedly disagree with.
Grace and peace,
John Erthein, Elderton (PA)
Your WebWeaver responded by referring to
recent statement by Senator McCain, which suggests that if the American
people no longer support the American war in Iraq, we should not continue
putting more troops in harm’s way.
Rev. Erthein responded:
Thank you for providing that link ... it is a very
interesting article, one that would be of interest to your general
readership, I'm sure. By all means link to both of them.
The impression I have is that McCain is saying, "win or
get out." Either option looks preferable to a never-ending conflict
a la Vietnam. Given McCain's experience as a Vietnam war veteran and POW,
I think that informs his thinking on this issue (of course, as the article
notes, other Vietnam POWs have a less optimistic perspective as to whether
the war is winnable or even justifiable).
However, I still think it is fair to say that McCain
considers US involvement justifiable, and that the war can still be won,
which is a minority viewpoint nowadays. I appreciate his willingness to
say something unpopular.
We should admit "our
past follies" and get out
Then came this comment from Gordon Shull, who is a retired
professor of international relations at the College of Wooster, and a
Our dilemma is that we are in part
responsible for the mess in Iraq, but our continued presence there seems
only to make things worse. The great majority of Middle East experts knew
two things all along. First, Iraq is an artificial state cobbled by the
British of very different nations. Second, our policies in the Middle East
since World War II have transformed us from hero to villain in the minds
of the great majority there - and hence we have no legitimacy, no ability
to take an effective leadership role in the transformation of any Arab or
Conclusion: we should implore the Arab-Islamic countries
to form a coalition to assume trusteeship responsibilities in Iraq just as
soon as possible; acknowledge that the UN may have a role to play there;
offer to help pay the bill for politico/economic reconstruction of Iraq.
Setting a date certain for our departure might be necessary to spur
This is not "cutting and running"; it is acknowledging
both our past follies and our resulting incapacity, and offering to help
those who take our place with a better chance of achieving a least bad
-Gordon Shull, Wooster, Ohio
What the US should do, it won’t
The most recent comment comes from Scotland – specifically
from the Rev. John Mann, formerly a PC(USA) minister, now serving in Glasgow
as a minister of the Church of Scotland.
Thanks Doug for this opportunity to engage in a little
What the U.S. Should Do ....
After I wrote a number of things down, I thought of how
utterly unlikely it is that the United States will do what it should do in
regard to Iraq. Apologizing, atoning and taking responsibility for the
crimes against humanity would involve putting George Bush on trial as a
war criminal. Anything short of that is really just wishful futility.
The folks who were once enamoured of Bush think he is a
failure not because they conclude what he did was wrong, but rather that
he did not succeed in doing it. America as a nation tends to see
self-assessment and admission of error as a sign of weakness and "America
can never be weak."
What will probably happen is that there will be
recrimination and scape-goating with promises never to do it again. Until
Am I just being cynical? I remember the aftermath of
Vietnam, and the aftermath of 9/11. It's just too easy to go down the
jingoistic path of "God Bless America." Too much aftermath and not enough
John Mann - former PCUSA minister and ex-patriot living in Scotland.
We welcome your comments!
What do you think of Michael Moore's prescription?
What about the views offered above?
Please send your
to be shared here.
In a war running longer than our part of
World War II, what do we do now??
Many Americans are using the fact that our war in Iraq has gone on for
1,3478 days now – longer than our participation in
World War II – to offer their thoughts and suggestions about the war.
Here are two comments that provide food for thought:
Michael Moore declares that "cut and run [is] the only
brave thing to do."
He argues that trying to transform a nation into a
democratic state by invading is hardly likely to succeed, especially when
the venture is based on such vast misinformation and deception, and has no
real support from the people being "liberated."
He urges (well, "demand" is his word) that the US
government do three things:
1. Bring the troops home now. Not six months from now. NOW. Quit
looking for a way to win. We can't win. We've lost. Sometimes you lose.
This is one of those times. Be brave and admit it.
2. Apologize to our soldiers and make amends. Tell them we are sorry
they were used to fight a war that had NOTHING to do with our national
security. We must commit to taking care of them so that they suffer as
little as possible. ...
3. We must atone for the atrocity we have perpetuated on the people of
Iraq. There are few evils worse than waging a war based on a lie, invading
another country because you want what they have buried under the ground.
Now many more will die. Their blood is on our hands ... When the civil war
is over, we will have to help rebuild Iraq. We can receive no redemption
until we have atoned.
In closing, there is one final thing I know. We Americans are better
than what has been done in our name. A majority of us were upset and angry
after 9/11 and we lost our minds. We didn't think straight and we never
looked at a map. Because we are kept stupid through our pathetic education
system and our lazy media, we knew nothing of history. ...
The majority [of us] now feel a deep sadness and guilt and a hope that
somehow we can make make it all right again.
Unfortunately, we can't. So we will accept the consequences of our
actions and do our best to be there should the Iraqi people ever dare to
seek our help in the future. We ask for their forgiveness.
We demand the Democrats listen to us and get out of Iraq now.
His full essay >>
We need more realism
Another comment comes from George Packer, writing in the New Yorker,
says things are more complicated than that. He therefore urges that the US
maintain some involvement in order to have a little leverage in getting
other nations, especially Muslim ones, to play a continuing role in keeping
order and helping the Iraqis move toward some kind of compromise among the
three conflicting groups.
Packer's brief article >>
So what do you think the US
Just send a note,
and we’ll share it here.
The church can help heal the wounds of war
Andrew Weaver, a
United Methodist pastor and clinical psychologist, describes some of the
wounds – especially the internal, psychological wounds – that American
soldiers are living with as they return from service in Iraq and
Afghanistan. And beyond that, he outlines ways that congregations and
pastors can help these trauma survivors move through the vital healing
Winning or losing in Iraq?
America, October 18, 2006
|Oooops! Almost 3 months
after posting this item, I discovered that a typo in the link to
FaithfulAmerica took you to a very different website, called
which looks as if it may have been designed specifically to look and
feel enough like the former site to draw you in, and then give you a
good dose conservative and pro-war opinion in a few blog-like notes.
If you went there, you must have wondered a bit.
"Make Love Your Aim." 1 Corinthians 14:1
Yesterday 10 more U.S. soldiers were killed, making
October one of the deadliest months on record for the U.S. We are fast
approaching a tragic 3,000 U.S. soldiers dying in the streets and sands of
Last week an independent report revealed that more than
655,000 innocent people have died in Iraq as a result of the U.S. invasion.
Just today the Brookings Institution reported a half-million people have
been displaced since February - an estimated 100,000 of them children. One
report puts the total number of displaced persons at 800,000. Clearly the
crisis is spiraling out of all control.
Today when asked about the President's reaction to the
mounting death toll, the White House Press Secretary responded that
"his strategy is to win."
When is winning losing? Jesus asked, "What does it profit
them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?" (Luke
9:25) Most people of faith believe in a different kind of winning. Just as
wars kill, words can heal. Just as hate destroys, love strengthens. Bonds of
understanding and goodwill – whether between persons or nations – are made
not with clenched fists, but open hands.
Our hearts are broken by the violence and our nation
diminished by pouring U.S. troops and treasure into the middle of what
amounts to a deadly civil war, causing untold misery and fueling the very
fire that terrorists have been hoping for. Equally tragic is the fact that
the majority of representatives in the U.S. Congress have allowed this to
happen. That is why your vote this November is more important than ever.
Today we are asking you to do two things:
PRAY. Pray for all who are dying
daily in Iraq.
You may post prayers of all kinds on our prayer
Your vote determines the direction of our nation. If we envision a nation of
peace, we must elect people who will stand up against our present policies
and forge the changes that will lead to peace. Our friends at
Without War have developed
to ask your Congressional candidates around the Iraq War
issue. Please use this guide as you search your own heart and as you make
your choices that will reshape Washington, our nation, and the world. You
may also wish to see their
"Citizen's Toolkit on Iraq"
Blessings to you for all you do on behalf of others.
Vince Isner and the FaithfulAmerica.org Team
Tom Driver urges action against the
impending U.S. war on Iran [10-12-06]
For over a year Scott Ritter has been saying that war against
Iran is inevitable. Last spring Seymour Hirsch reported in The New Yorker
that war preparations were being made. Now comes Chris Hedges saying
that warships are being put in position and an attack by the U.S. is likely
Please read what
Hedges has to say >>
Hedges was a war correspondent for 20
years. He knows what he's talking about.
I think the only thing that might stop a new war is the
knowledge in Washington that the American people won't support it. Please
talk to your friends and neighbors. Word of mouth can be more effective than
mass media. Tell people to tell other people -- and to call both the White
House and the local offices of their members of Congress. The message: We
won't support a new war.
Tom F. Driver
Tom Driver is the Paul Tillich Professor of Theology and
Culture Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary in New York. Tom, with
his wife Anne Barstow, received
Witherspoon’s Andrew Murray Award at our luncheon during the 217th
Two more witness-participants
report on action for peace in D.C.
We’ve already shared the report on the witness
for peace held in Washington this past Tuesday, September 26, through the
Presbyterian News Service report on the arrest of former PC(USA) Moderator
We now have reports from two other participants in the
On being arrested
Tim Simpson, a pastor at Lake Shore Presbyterian Church in
Jacksonville, FL, tells of being arrested along with some seventy others,
detained for hours, and then released. He praises the courtesy of the
Capitol Police who arrested the demonstrators, and adds:
I cannot tell you what an incredible experience this was
for all of us. It was by no means pleasant, but it was nevertheless an
experience filled with great joy. It was such a blessing to be with so
many hopeful, committed people who were willing to put themselves on the
line for peace. ...It is crucial that the pressure for peace be
intensified. As one of our number remarked, "If we don't stay at this, the
next time we protest it may be over a war against Iran."
His full report, from the Christian Alliance for Progress >>
Making clear in a Senate office
building that the war must end
Gordon Clark, who is the convener of the National Campaign for Nonviolent
Resistance (formerly the Iraq Pledge of Resistance), emphasizes the complex
relationships between the police and the demonstrators, and states that many
of the police in fact expressed great sympathy with the purposes of the
He concludes his report on the demonstration:
Above all, though, we achieved our goal, and for a least one hour on a
Tuesday in September, we brought the work of a Senate office building to a
standstill, and made loud and clear our demand that the immoral, illegal
and unjust occupation of Iraq must end. If we can continue to ramp up our
actions in this way, including the extremely important electoral work for
this fall, we can and will compel members of Congress to heed our demand.
His full report >>
For news stories and images of these
actions, as well as more information, go to
Former moderator Rick Ufford-Chase, and four PC(USA)
clergy arrested protesting Iraq war
Antiwar protest part of national 'Declaration of Peace'
A former Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly moderator and four
Presbyterian ministers were among 71 people arrested in Washington, DC,
during a series of peaceful protests against the Iraq war on Tuesday (Sept.
Rick Ufford-Chase, 42, moderator of the PC(USA)'s 216th General Assembly
in 2004, confirmed by cell phone that he was taken into custody while
leading an interfaith anti-war procession on Capitol Hill.
"This one is really personal," said Ufford-Chase, an elder at Southside
Presbyterian Church in Tucson, AZ and currently executive director of the
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. "It just feels like I've spent three years
trying to find proactive ways to insist on our (Christian) values about war
and the situation in Iraq is getting worse. I finally decided it's time I
have to do something to say no."
Also arrested were the Rev. Roger Scott Powers, 47, associate pastor of
First and Franklin Street Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, MD; and the
Revs. Gwin E. Pratt, 57, and Tim F. Simpson, 43, both pastors at Lake Shore
Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, FL. The Rev. Andrew Foster
Connors, pastor at Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church in
Baltimore, was also arrested.
For the full
report from Presbyterian News Service >>
Rick Ufford-Chase will join witness against the Iraq
war in Washington, Sept. 26 [9-4-06]
The former Moderator of the PC(USA), now
Director of the Presbyterian
Peace Fellowship, says " I will risk arrest to make it clear that I
believe the War in Iraq is a violation of my most fundamental beliefs as a
Christian." And he invites other Presbyterians to join in.
explaining his intended action >>
7 Facts We Might Not Know About the Iraq War
Michael Schwartz, Professor of Sociology
at Stony Brook University, who has written extensively on popular protest
and insurgency, and on American business and government dynamics, lays out
seven realities of the war in Iraq that are generally ignored.
Very briefly, they are:
• The Iraqi government is little more than a group of
• There is no Iraqi army
• The recent decline in American casualties is not a result of less fighting
(and anyway, it's probably ending)
• Most Iraqi cities have active and often viable local governments
• Outside Baghdad, violence arrives with the occupation army
• There is a growing resistance movement in the Shia areas of Iraq
• There are three distinct types of terrorism in Iraq, all directly or
indirectly connected to the occupation
He concludes: "One might say that the war has converted
one of President Bush's biggest lies into an unimaginably horrible truth:
Iraq is now the epicenter of worldwide terrorism."
But, he adds, "There is still some hope for the Iraqis to
recover their equilibrium. All the centripetal forces in Iraq derive from
the American occupation, and might still be sufficiently reduced by an
American departure followed by a viable reconstruction program embraced by
the key elements inside of Iraq. But if the occupation continues, there will
certainly come a point - perhaps already passed - when the collapse of
government legitimacy, the destruction wrought by the war, and the horror of
terrorist violence become self-sustaining. If that point is reached, all
parties will enter a new territory with incalculable consequences."
The full article >>
The Altar of Mammon
King David got in baaad
trouble when he sent a man into battle, and to his death, based on
deception, and to satisfy his own wrongful desires. Taken note of Yahweh’s
wrathful response, Victoria Furio asks about the recent actions of the
United States government.
If David’s sin was so unfathomable, she asks, "then how
would we judge a king who overpowers a nation, driven by wrongful
desires, coveting its wealth and position, and sends the kingdom’s sons and
daughters into battle for it under false pretenses? What sin could be more
despicable than using one’s own children for the king’s illicit gain,
exacting the final sacrifice of their lives based on a lie?"
These are serious charges, she acknowledges, saying "We
would have to be sure of the facts to make such a judgment." And she
proceeds to lay out those facts, with helpful brevity and clarity.
She concludes that "What is fundamentally wrong here is
the notion that one nation has a right to another’s resources, and that they
can even be taken by force! This violates the most basic human and divine
laws and assures that there will be no peace."
Victoria Furio served for 15 years as mission personnel
for the National Council of Churches and The United Methodist Church in
Latin American human rights programs, and is currently on staff at Union
Theological Seminary in New York.
Thoughts following Memorial Day
war really costs
On the day before Memorial Day, the New York Times
Magazine featured an article by Scott Anderson, tracing the lives of
some veterans of Alpha Company of 112th Infantry Regiment of the
Pennsylvania National Guard , after their grim return home to Butler, PA.
He focuses on Chuck Norris, a 37-year-old father of three,
the son and grandson of steel-mill workers, who went through a series of
low-paying jobs and was finally doing a little better as a TV repair person.
Then his Army Reserve is called up for duty in Iraq.
Norris goes through painful discoveries: What it’s like to pull bombed
vehicles away from burning bodies. How it feels to recognize that the people
you’ve come to help just want you gone ... or dead.
And he has to deal with the death of his best friend in
Iraq, Carl Morgain, who dies when his Humvee is attacked by a suicide
Anderson follows Norris and some of his friends as they
try to adjust to being home, and have a very hard time of it – sleeping
badly, terrible dreams, anxiety as they drive in fear of things along the
roadsides, can’t-get-out-of-bed depression – all the stuff of post-traumatic
There are bright spots, too, as friends gradually begin to
get together again, and finally as Norris is able to acknowledge his
friend’s death, and begin to deal with it.
The cost of this war?? Billions beyond counting. But more.
Bush setting up
attack on Iran
Marjorie Cohn, writing for TruthOut.org, building on
reports by Seymour Hersh, lays out the evidence that the US military is
making preparations – including the use of nuclear weapons – for an attack
Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law,
President-elect of the National Lawyers Guild, and the US representative to
the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists.
|On war and peacemaking in Iraq -- a continuing
Since the release of three members of the Christian
Peacemakers team in Iraq after months of captivity, a lengthy conversation
has gone on between two Presbyterians with rather different backgrounds and
Some of the notes are long, but we believe this discussion
offers a helpful example to two differing views of the Iraq war, efforts to
work for peace in the midst of the war, and much more.
The most recent of the notes is
a response from Beth Pyles, a
member of the Christian Peacemakers Team, to criticisms that Earl Tilford
has leveled against the whole CPT enterprise, and specifically against what
he has seen as its lack of gratitude for the efforts of America troops to
rescue the three hostages. You can scroll down to follow the
conversation back to the beginning, or
click here for the
beginning of the story, and work your way back up the page.
If you have thoughts about the concerns and convictions
expressed here, we welcome your notes, and will share them here unless they
become too hostile and personal.
Just send a note!
|More from Christian Peacemaker Teams –
Beth Pyles, back from
Baghdad, responds to criticism from Prof. Tilford
Beth Pyles, a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams who
recently returned from Baghdad, recently sent us a thoughtful response to
the sharp critique of the work of CPT,
from Prof. Earl Tilford, a Presbyterian elder, a retired military
officer, and professor at Grove City College.
In her cover note she says of her commentary: "I
know it's long, but there was much to respond to. Thank you for all your
We're happy to share it with you here.
From fighting the Enemy to building the Peace – a question of framing
The Rev. Peter Sawtell, Executive Director of Eco-Justice
Ministries, offers helpful reflections on the never-ending war in Iraq, and
the President’s struggles to regain support for that war – and for his
presidency. It’s time, he says, to shift the focus. And that’s something
that churches can do well: not the conflicted questions of policies, but the
larger framework within which we view them.
Sawtell's essay >>
Madeline Albright seems to agree: "Good versus evil
isn’t a strategy."
The Bush administration's newly unveiled National Security
Strategy might well be subtitled "The Irony of Iran," according to Madeline
Albright. Three years after the invasion of Iraq and the invention of the
phrase "axis of evil," the administration now highlights the threat posed by
Iran - whose radical government has been vastly strengthened by the invasion
Christian Peacemaker Teams on the release of 3 of their hostages in Iraq
Teams has issued a statement on the release of three of their people after
months of detention as hostages in Iraq. They say in part:
Today, in the face of this joyful news, our
faith compels us to love our enemies even when they have committed acts
which caused great hardship to our friends and sorrow to their families.
In the spirit of the prophetic nonviolence that motivated Jim, Norman,
Harmeet and Tom to go to Iraq, we refuse to yield to a spirit of
vengeance. We give thanks for the compassionate God who granted our
friends courage and who sustained their spirits over the past months. We
pray for strength and courage for ourselves so that, together, we can
continue the nonviolent struggle for justice and peace.
Beth Pyles, a
Presbyterian member of the Christian Peacemaker Team in Iraq, returned to
the U.S. from Iraq a couple days before the three surviving CPT hostages
were released [3-24-06]
Anti-war protesters rally around world on the third anniversary of the
invasion of Iraq
Associated Press provides one early report of anti-war
protests in Australia, Asia, Europe and the US. [3-18-06]
The story begins:
Thousands of anti-war protesters took to the streets
around the world Saturday, marking the third anniversary of the U.S.-led
invasion of Iraq with demands that coalition troops leave immediately.
Wael Musfar of the Arab Muslim American Federation
addressed more than 1,000 people who gathered in Times Square near a
recruiting station, which was guarded by police.
"We say enough hypocrisy, enough lies, our soldiers must
come home now," Musfar said from a parked flatbed truck. Participants
chanted, "Stop the U.S. war machine, from Iraq to Korea to the
Many attendees emphasized that they support the troops.
"I have friends in Iraq and I just want them to know that I may not be
able to support them there, but I can here," said Jose Avila, 36.
The reporter adds that many of the demonstrations drew
fewer people than organizers had hoped for.
The whole story >>
A litany in remembrance of Tom Fox, and of resistance to the war in Iraq
A "litany of resistance" has been prepared by Christian
Peacemakers Teams, celebrating the life and witness of Tom Fox, whose body
was found in Iraq after he was held hostage for some time.
It is also a litany for forgiveness, for deliverance, and
for the strength to stand against the war.
You might want to use this in a service on Sunday, marking
not only Tom Fox’s life and death, but the third anniversary of the
beginning of the US war in Iraq.
Click here to download this
file, which is in PDF format, set up as a bulletin insert.
Thanks to Betty Hale.
On the death of
Christian Peacemaker Tom Fox in Iraq
Witherspooner Arch Taylor writes: Tom Fox
was one of four Christian Peacemaker Team
members kidnapped in Baghdad in November. The other three were recently
shown alive on Al Jazeera TV. The Gospel reading for March 12, 2006 is Mark
8.31-38, Jesus’ prediction of his own death and his call to disciples to
take up their cross and follow. Here is a genuine example of one who did
Read the Peacemaker Teams'
"A Christian who fought war with the
selfless courage of the truly nonviolent"
R J Eskow, writing for the Huffington Post,
offers a thoughtful memorial to Tom Fox.
Is This War Worth the Price?
Pittsburghers were captivated this week by
the 7-year-old Iraqi boy who arrived here for reconstructive facial surgery
at Children's Hospital, having been badly disfigured in an American bombing
raid in 2004.
On a shoestring budget, the American group No More Victims
arranged for his medical care, got visas for the child and his father, paid
their expenses in Jordan until the documents came through, and is still
trying to raise the cash to cover the travel. A Massachusetts philanthropist
kicked in $50,000 for the hospital bill. A single mom in Banksville has
taken father and son into her home during their stay.
It's a story that bores right through peoples' defenses
without regard to politics, position on the war, religious beliefs or lack
thereof (the family is Muslim; the U.S. Army veteran who spent six weeks in
Jordan working on their visas is an atheist; the host family is Catholic;
the philanthropist is Jewish).
No one with a beating heart could look at Abdul Hakim
Ismael's scarred face and the happy, excited, nervous child behind it, and
not be moved. No one could look at the many people who've stepped up to help
and not be inspired.
But this story does not begin and end with an injured
little boy, or the other wounded children that the group is helping. It
begins with the Bush administration's prosecution of the Iraq war, and the
thousands of innocent civilians it is willing to sacrifice in pursuit of its
unintelligible goals. Where it ends, no one knows. ...
The rest of the story >>
Originally published by the
Post-Gazette (but without the boy's photo)
Prayers asked for peacemakers
Sunday, March 5,
marks the 100th day since Tom Fox, Norman Kember, Jim Loney, and Harmeet
Sooden were kidnapped in Baghdad. Pray for their safe release and
restoration to their families. Pray for the 14,600 Iraqis illegally detained
by the Occupation forces.
Christian Peacemaker Teams
Thanks to Amy Ukena
And more ...
Vigils scheduled to mark 100 days since peacemakers’
abduction in Baghdad
Interfaith events will feature prayer for safe delivery of
3 CPT hostages
from a report by Alexa Smith (Presbyterian News
Service) and Ecumenical News International
March 3, 2006 – Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) have
issued a worldwide appeal asking churches to observe the first Sunday of
Lent by lighting 100 candles to mark the number of days since four western
peace activists were kidnapped in Baghdad.
Sara Reschly, a spokeswoman for the Chicago-based
organization, told the Presbyterian News Service that some cities,
including Chicago, are holding public vigils, and some churches are
integrating candlelight services into their regular worship. ...
The candles also are intended to honor the largely
unnoticed peacemaking efforts of Sunni and Shi’a Iraqis at a time of
escalating civil strife in Iraq, she said.
Prayers, litanies, and other
vigil-related materials are posted at
Beth Pyles, a candidate for ordination in the Presbyterian
Church (U.S.A.), is one of seven CPT activists living in an apartment in
Baghdad. numerous Christian communions.
PC(USA) Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase, of Tucson, AZ, is a
CPT member. He has served in Hebron in the West Bank. Anita David, a Chicago
Presbyterian, is living in CPT’s Baghdad apartment with Pyles and five other
whole story >>
is a brink a brink?
Peacemaker reports from Baghdad
This note was sent on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2006, and is posted
here on 2-27-06.
few days have been spent in virtual lock down here in Baghdad as curfew
after curfew has been imposed to try to control the situation since the
bombing of the Shi'a shrine in Samara on Wednesday. Below I set forth some
of my journal musings; the odd references in parentheses refer to the sounds
I am hearing as I write. The noise of Baghdad is defining in many ways of
the experience of it.
Friday, 4:35 am (jets
and howling dogs) I fell asleep in exhaustion last night. On Wednesday,
while doing a taped radio interview with a friend and her son, our
translator, we learned of the bombing of the shrine. Then reports came in
that there were other bombs and shooting in the streets of Baghdad. As we
talked, first trying to carry on with the interview, then breaking away to
call various folks, we were still not too shaken; our neighborhood, after
all, remained quiet. The shattering of my own sense of calm came with a call
from a Palestinian Team friend: Baladiat, his neighborhood, was under
gunfire attack by the Mehdi army.
I can only
speak with him through our translator, who said he could hear the gunfire
over the phone. The same friend called later to report that two mortars were
dropped on Baladiat. I have never felt more powerless or hopeless. I saw the
horror on the face of our translator (a young Palestinian himself) as we
talked together, realizing that the gun battle was happening in the now and
that our friend's call for help could not be answered by any rescue from us.
Then [we learned] that
a Catholic priest friend had been shot and was pinned down at the church by
gunfire, unable to get to a hospital. . . he answered the phone himself . .
learn that our priest friend was not actually shot, but that flying debris
from gunfire had entered his leg. He is at home recovering at present, but
will probably go to have surgery in the coming week. As with the
Palestinians, we could talk with him while he was literally stuck in place,
unable to move because of his injury and the gun battle outside.
[A Team mate] left to
get supplies for the coming days and found himself in front of a car that
was then moved because it was thought to be a bomb -- we still don't know if
strange thing in retrospect is that when he returned and told us, he was
quite matter of fact and we barely registered the remark; in such an
atmosphere, if you aren't on the critically injured list, your near miss
reports are of little interest.
It was dusk, just
after sunset. Helicopters flew round and round, circling the Green Zone. I
wanted to scream at them, but knew I could not -- there is danger even in a
raised voice here. So I . . . whispered my angry sad chant, 'Go home! Go
was spent in phone calls to Team friends to make sure everyone is all right.
Gun battles continued in the streets of some neighborhoods, but things
generally quieted down. To say it was generally quiet is not to ignore the
reality, however, of intense violence; Friday and Saturday were more of the
same: general quiet and pockets of extraordinary violence. Foreign Arabs
held in jail in the south were taken from the jail and executed on the
streets. Mosques were invaded and destroyed. A journalist was killed and
shots were fired at others during her funeral. Home invasions and executions
are reported in various parts of Baghdad. But there are also signs of peace
and reconciliation and hope: Shi'a and Sunni marched together in numerous
locations, demonstrating solidarity. Leaders of various factions on both
sides have issued solidarity statements. Ayatollah Sistani, the leading
Shi'a cleric in Iraq, has called for peace and non-violence. Various groups
within Iraq, as well as surrounding nations, have pledged assistance to
rebuild the shrine. Sunni in Baghdad play the words of a Shi'a leader. Shi'a
and Sunni worship together.
wisdom about the situation do I have from here? The truth is, not much. What
I can say is that if any commentator, politician, or theorist of any stripe
pretends to know what is happening here, unless he/she is the perpetrator,
they are speaking from ignorance or speculation. The fact is that, from
here, there is no clarity about what has happened, who lit this latest spark
or why. The question posed is always the same: who profits from Iraq's
descent into open, full-blown civil war? The answer varies depending upon
the person speaking. But there is a keen sense that this is a brink moment
in Iraq. People who have been hopeful in the past are sad and resigned.
Leaders call again and again for peace, some of them, even as they openly
foment something else entirely. And in my own experience, the more a leader
cries peace, the more likely war is. Do I know which way this tidal moment
will break? I have no idea; like the rest of Iraq, for now, I sit and I wait
and I pray. I pray that one, if not all sides, let go of the rubber band
which is Iraq, before it stretches beyond the breaking point.
at dusk, I cried at the sky. Friday at dusk, I sat with my team mate,
Maxine, on the same roof, in quiet conversation. A white dove with tan wings
flew directly overhead (I remember because I looked up and then thought
better of that, given the habits of birds). It then circled back and came to
rest on the ledge, where it sat and watched us for five minutes or so. It
did not startle when we spoke or fly off when we moved. I truly thought I
could have walked over to it and stood beside it without disturbing its
vigil. After a time, it simply and quietly left. Maxine said that usually
such things are a sign to us, but that it felt as if this bird was watching
us, looking for a sign from us instead of being a sign to us. If God was
coming to us in the symbol of Peace seeking a sign or an answer, I wonder
what the question is?
May you be
blessed with God's peace now and always,
Read her earlier report, sent last
September from Baghdad >>
More on the Christian
Peacemaker Teams >>
Your WebWeaver asked Beth if she would like to hear from
some of our visitors – with a little warning that sometimes we get fairly
nasty notes. She replied that she thought she could deal with that. We
suppose a little warfare now and then keeps those nasty notes in
Anyway, if you’d like to send her a note of your own,
she’ll be happy to hear from you.
Just click here >>
The Cost of War
How much is
Ever wonder how much the wars are costing us? Us as
individuals, as families, as a society (the cost to our educational system,
our public housing, health care, hunger??
CostOfWar.com to see for yourself. Just be ready to count pretty fast to
keep up with the ticker.
Mark Engler reflects on watching the numbers fly by:
So how much will the war cost? The question occasionally
appears in the media, never a new issue, never a settled one either.
Still, there are some certainties about the costs of the invasion and
occupation of Iraq. One is that it keeps going up. The President has now
submitted a "guns over butter" budget to Congress that increases Pentagon
spending to $440 billion, while taking away funds from social services at
home and development assistance abroad. One of the great curiosities of
this huge sum is that it does not include funding for the wars we are
actually fighting. Those are appropriated separately - this year, the
White House will reportedly be asking for another $120 billion for
military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, roughly equal to what it
spent in 2005.
The rest of his
Mark Engler, a writer based in New York City, is an
analyst with Foreign Policy In Focus and a contributor to Newsday, In These
Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and
Signers sought for a Women’s Call for Peace
Anuradha Mittal, of the
Oakland Institute, sends this
I am one of the initial endorsers of this exciting new
campaign: Women Say No To War! From now until March 8,
International Women's Day, we will be gathering over 100,000 signatures on
the Urgent Call for Peace in Iraq (below). On March 8, we will deliver the
signatures to the UN, U.S. embassies, consulates, and federal offices all
over the world. This is your opportunity to unite with international women
everywhere, and voice our opposition to the illegal war in Iraq.
(PLEASE NOTE: Men in solidarity with 'WOMEN
SAY NO TO WAR' are invited to join us! )
The text of
the Call for Peace, and links to add your name >>
A Policy of Collateral Damage
A troop drawdown in Iraq could mean more civilian casualties
The January 13 air attack on a Pakistani village, which
killed many civilians and perhaps a few al-Qaida members, illustrates the
United States' policy of bombing from the sky and letting the chips (and
bodies) fall where they may. As Seymour Hersh reports in The New Yorker,
the US military now seems to be relying on drawing down troop numbers on the
ground while shifting focus to its air assault capabilities.
Nick Rose provides
summary of this issue, and links to many reports and analyses, in Utne
This page lists all postings
Click here for
For earlier stories:
Postings from Jan
- June, 2007|
|July - December,
|June through October,
|March 18 through May, 2003|
|March 5 - 17, 2003|
| November and December 2002
Stories posted up through October, 2002
Presbyterian Peacemaking Program maintains a good page of
ratified (or not) by the presbyteries
A number of the most important actions of the 219th
General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their
action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book
We're providing resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest are:
which would remove the current ban on
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as
possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.|
which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of
10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. |
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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.
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
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
politics, culture, travel, 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 Flushing, NY.
John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive
A Presbyterian minister, currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!