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Iraq Archive 5
indexing postings from
March 1-17, 2003

This page lists all postings for March 1 - 17, 2003.

For earlier stories:

bulletFebruary, 2003
bulletJanuary, 2003
bullet November and December 2002
bullet Stories posted up through October, 2002

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program maintains a good page of resources on Iraq.

The Case Against the War, by Jonathan Schell   [3-17-03]

In the ever-hopeful faith that there is some divine will for peace, not for war, then even as the US and its few friends prepare to make their move, it may be worth paying attention to a detailed and reasoned case against the war. Jonathan Schell writes in The Nation that the president's goal of rolling back arsenals of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear and otherwise, is a legitimate and important goal. The problem is, of course, that the issue is much larger than Iraq's weaponry, whatever it may be.

To scale back the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, he argues, will require that all nations - possessors of those weapons (notably the US), "proliferators" such as India, Pakistan, now North Korea and others, and the many others that see nuclear weapons as the route to true dignity and sovereignty in the modern world - must work not just for non-proliferation (which is clearly discriminatory), but for true disarmament. Without that, he says, we will continue to be threatened, and no number of wars such as the current one will do away with the threats.

Will war bring democracy? Not likely, says State Dept. report  [3-17-03]

Even as the President calls for war now - no waiting!! - a State Department report disputes his claim that ousting Hussein will spur reforms in the Mideast, intelligence officials say.

A new reality: The world's people are "waging peace"

Dr. Robert Muller, former UN assistant secretary general, sees hope in the present crisis, as a global dialogue takes place on possibility of war.   [3-15-03]

101 Ways to Stop the War   [3-15-03]

This is an amazing web site with creative, detailed ideas for ways to slow (or if miracles happen, even stop) President Bush's preemptive war against Iraq. The website is run by Guy Dauncey, who is an author, speaker, organizer, facilitator and consultant who specializes in developing a positive vision of a post-industrial, environmentally sustainable future, and translating that vision into action.

The Fellowship of Reconciliation links to his site - which seems like a pretty good recommendation.

A visitor comments on reasons that justify the war   [3-15-03]

Prof. Earl H. Tilford, Jr., of Grove City College, has sent his justification for the planned war against Iraq, arguing that it satisfies the criteria of a "just war."

We share his thoughts here as representing a view probably not held by most Presbyterian progressives, but certainly one which must be taken seriously as the dominant opinion in the US government.

Global peace vigil set for 7 PM Sunday - around the globe
[3-14-03] and other peace groups are planning a wave of candlelight vigils for peace, to circle the globe this Sunday evening, March 16.

Just since Tuesday 3,593 vigils have been scheduled in 108 countries. You can see what vigils have been scheduled in your area, and sign up for one, at:

The site will show you how many people are signed up to attend the vigils near you. Spread the word to your friends, have them sign up on the site, and we can all watch as the numbers grow.

If you can't make a vigil, you can still join the global action on Sunday. Just put Christmas lights or anything that shines in your window on Sunday evening.

Act for Change suggests:

Indict Saddam Hussein for war crimes

Contributed by Working Assets

Those who oppose war have an obligation to propose alternative paths to that of the Bush Administration. So far, the call for inspections has been an effective one, and they should be strengthened and continued.

There is an additional powerful step that should be taken now -- the indictment of Saddam Hussein. Most agree that Saddam Hussein is a cruel dictator who has committed horrific human rights violations against his own people and those of neighboring countries. International law provides a remedy for just this behavior, and it is not a preemptive invasion. Instead, the U.N. Security Council should establish a tribunal for crimes against humanity by the leaders of Iraq, and move immediately to indict Saddam and selected others of his Ba'ath Party. This should allow us to focus on the crimes of the leadership while protecting the lives of the innocent people of Iraq.

There is recent experience that demonstrates that such a move can go beyond symbolism to discrediting Hussein. Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who led Serbia into attacks on breakaway republics and sanctioned widespread attacks against civilians in Bosnia and Kosovo, was widely seen as firmly entrenched. However, his indictment on war crimes charges significantly lessened his domestic popularity and emboldened domestic opposition forces. He was eventually deposed and is now being tried.

Human Rights Watch, prior to the buildup to war last fall, called upon governments around the world to propose a war crimes tribunal. No government was willing to do so. It is not too late.

Call to action

Urge President Bush to call upon the United Nations to establish a war-crimes tribunal to indict Saddam Hussein.

Click here for more information, and to send an e-mail message to President Bush.

The President's "bully pulpit" threatens the world  [3-13-03]

A Christian Century editorial lays out a compelling case for concern about President Bush's religious faith, which appears to lean heavily toward popular apocalyptic views of divine control over an impending end of the world. This view, combined with the President's certainty about America's divine mission, gives rise to the question of how the President's religious views are shaping "his public policies, not least his design on Iraq."

"What is alarming is that Bush seems to have no reservations about the notion that God and the good are squarely on the American side."

Church leaders - including Stated Clerk Kirkpatrick - offer an alternative to war  [3-11-03]

The Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), was one of a small group of US church leaders who recently visited British Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss alternatives to war. Their efforts to visit President Bush for a similar purpose have been rebuffed.

That group has now developed, from those discussions and subsequent conversations, a basic proposal for a "third way," an alternative to war.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on a recent sermon by Kirkpatrick at the Collingswood Presbyterian Church in Camden County, NJ, in which he discussed the proposal.

Click here for the full text of the proposal.

Sojourners' editor Jim Wallis, who was also a member of the delegation, has posted the full proposal on the Sojourners website, with a link by which you can endorse the idea, and that your support will be communicated to various national leaders.

A little note of concern: Your WebWeaver sent his endorsement, but his e-mail to the White House bounced, returned with a note that the address was no longer operating. Hmmm.

To add your endorsement to this proposal, click here. 
Then scroll to the bottom of the page.

God and George in the White House   [3-11-03]

At least half a dozen friends have urged me, during the Witherspoon conference or by e-mail, to point you to a recent Washington Post article by Presbyterian pastor Fritz Ritsch, who ponders the piety of President Bush. Lots of people are doing that these days, but his analysis seems to be one of the best. The President's clear we're-good-and-they're-evil view of the world, his triumphalism which links divine power with American victory, his belief in the redemptive power of violence - all add up to a deification of American power.

He concludes:

"With the political emergence of joyous secularism, the churches are challenged to preach an alternative message: grace, hope and redemption -- the truth of Biblical faith. This is both our pastoral and our political responsibility. In a nuclear age, American triumphalism is not only spiritually bereft, it is, quite possibly, apocalyptic in its implications."

George, listen to your Daddy  [3-11-03]

The Times Online (United Kingdom) reports on a recent effort by George Bush Sr. to rein in his son.

Bush Sr. warns against unilateral action

The first President Bush has told his son that hopes of peace in the Middle East would be ruined if a war with Iraq were not backed by international unity.

Speaking at Tufts University, Mr. Bush Sr. said that the brief flowering of hope for Arab-Israeli relations a decade ago would never have happened if America had ignored the will of the United Nations.

He also urged the President to resist his tendency to bear grudges, advising his son to bridge the rift between the United States, France and Germany.

"You've got to reach out to the other person. You've got to convince them that long-term friendship should trump short-term adversity," he said.

Some Evidence on Iraq Called Fake  [3-11-03]

The Washington Post reports that some of the documents presented by the US as evidence of Iraq's nuclear ambitions were in authentic. Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that "there is no indication of resumed nuclear activities."

Quick Political Aptitude Test:   [3-11-03]

This test consists of one (1) multiple-choice question (so you better get it right!) based on the following list of countries in which the U.S. has intervened militarily since the end of World War II, compiled by historian William Blum:

China 1945-46
Korea 1950-53
China 1950-53
Guatemala 1954
Indonesia 1958
Cuba 1959-60
Guatemala 1960
Congo 1964
Peru 1965
Laos 1964-73
Vietnam 1961-73
Cambodia 1969-70
Guatemala 1967-69
Grenada 1983
Libya 1986
El Salvador 1980s
Nicaragua 1980s
Panama 1989
Iraq 1991-99
Sudan 1998
Afghanistan 1998, 2001-2002
Yugoslavia 1999


In how many of these instances did a democratic government, respectful of human rights, occur as a direct result?

Choose one of the following:
(a) 0
(b) zero
(c) none
(d) not a one
(e) a whole number between -1 and +1

This quiz compliments of Vietnam Veterans Against the War,
Ben Chitty USN 65-9 VN 66-7 68 NY/VVAW peaceCENTER
P.O. Box 36, San Antonio, Texas 78291
(210) 224-HOPE or 224-4673 FAX (210) 222-1097

Thanks to Arch Taylor

Petition to Security Council  [3-4-03]

Another major group opposing the war,, is circulating an emergency petition from citizens around the world to the U.N. Security Council. The petition's going to be delivered to the 15 member states of the Security Council on THURSDAY, MARCH 6.

They add: "If hundreds of thousands of us sign, it could be an enormously important and powerful message - people from all over the world joining in a single call for a peaceful solution. But we really need everyone who agrees to sign up today."

To add your name, go to

The website has been busy today, so it may take a few tries - but it may be worth it.

Another way to let your voice be heard ... or seen!   [3-4-03]

TrueMajority, one of the sponsors of last week's Virtual March on Washington, has said that "the Win Without War coalition (TrueMajority is a founding member) generated nearly a million phone calls, faxes, and emails. Our piece of this Virtual March was handling the free faxes and over 140,000 people registered to send over 280,000 faxes to their Senators."

As a next step in making know the people's opposition to the war, True Majority is suggesting that people wear a blue ribbon - "blue for the United Nations. Blue because we can Win Without War."

The statement continues: "If even a fraction of all those who oppose this unilateral war wear a blue ribbon on their lapels, shirts, or dresses and tie it to their cars (and anything else), we will create a force that can no longer be ignored. You can get the ribbon to make your own in any craft or fabric store, or to learn more and purchase one or a bunch of these cheap, check out our store at:

The Blue Ribbon Campaign is a project of the Win Without War coalition.

A Georgia pastor reflects on the impending war:  its costs for ordinary people, and the irony of a president who is leading us into war in the name of a God who calls for justice and mercy and humility.   [3-4-03]
The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has issued a new statement opposing the threatened war against Iraq.  They name two basic reasons: the death and destruction such a war will bring, and the increased hostility and fear it will create over the long term.  [3-3-03]
Hundreds of thousands join "virtual march" against war   [3-1-03]

MoveOn, one of the groups participating in the "Win Without War" coalition, has sent out this report on the massive call-in held on Feb. 26th.   They include links to reports from the Washington Post, the New York Times, and BBC.

Why this war? 
Two deeper looks at the history and the roots of America's war on Iraq

As war draws closer, and seems more inevitable even in the face of huge and growing opposition, it seems imperative to look more deeply at the roots of this conflict.

Here are two efforts to do just that:

This war is not unique

Simon Tisdall, writing in The Guardian, begins by reminding us of our own history: "The approaching Middle East convulsion is hardly an aberration. America has been fighting wars all our lifetimes, from Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf to Serbia, Afghanistan and now, again, in Iraq." But he goes deeper than that by showing how war has been "the option of first resort - not last," for most nations through the centuries. And he reminds his British audience that their own nation has been at it for a long time.

But looking at the current conflict, he notes that many other nations are looking for their own benefits, too: whether it's Iraq's neighbors speaking against the war but not reluctant to see their troublesome neighbor evicted, or Turkey and the Security Council members negotiating for billions of dollars in "aid" in exchange for their votes or other support, or Russia looking after its oil interests in the region ... the U.S. is not alone in this scuffle.

Thanks to Jane Hanna for suggesting this article.

It's fear that drives us -- and we must offer hope

And Rabbi Michael Lerner argues in the latest issue of Tikkun that this war, like most wars, is rooted in a attitude of fear - and that no rational arguments about unjust wars or the costs involved or anything else will change the support behind President Bush's drive toward war.

After 9/11, this fear has shaped (or reinforced) some basic American attitudes toward the world:

The energies unleashed by this war will further destroy the social/psychological/spiritual environment and weaken the bonds of trust among all peoples alive at this moment in history, and will make it more likely for people to come to believe that:

a. The world is a scary place.

b. Our own interests are in conflict with everyone else's.

c. If we don't act to protect ourselves from them and to win at their expense, they will hurt us to win at our expense.

d. Getting power over others is the only realistic thing we can do to protect ourselves.

e. If we want to be successful, we need to become good at manipulating others (subtly if possible, overtly if necessary).

f. Even the people closest to us are likely to be motivated by their own self-interest (it's just "common sense" to believe that that is everyone's bottom line) so we'd best be sure to watch out for ourselves, because no one else will do that for us, no matter how much they claim to love us.

So the strategy of the peace movement, he says, must be to restore our nation's faith in the power of love and of solidarity for others.

So, he says:

Let our message be clear. There is only one way for America to be safe: let it be perceived as the leading force in the world for ending poverty and hunger and disease and the vast global inequalities of wealth; as the world's leading force for ecological sanity and repairing the damage done to our biosphere by the past 150 years of industrialization; and as the force that embodies a new bottom line of generosity and caring for others. If that is our message, we actually have a chance to turn this disastrous situation to something of long-term benefit to humanity.

Please take a look at the whole essay! There's much more, and it's worth the effort.

U.S. Foreign Service Officer resigns, offering an eloquent statement of his dissent from the current policy toward Iraq  [3-1-03]
Texas AFL-CIO issues statement opposing war against Iraq

Breaking from a long tradition of labor's support for US military actions, the Texas AFL-CIO has published a statement in which it supports efforts to disarm Iraq, but criticizes the present approach of the Bush administration.  [3-1-03]

ACLU warns of more threats to privacy in "Domestic Security Enhancement Act" now being drafted as a New "Patriot Act"  [3-1-03]

GA actions ratified (or not) by  the presbyteries   

A number of the most important actions of the 219th General Assembly have now been acted upon by the presbyteries, confirming most of them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book of Order.

We provided resources to help inform the reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.

Our three areas of primary interest have been:

bullet Amendment 10-A, which  removes the current ban on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.  Approved!

bullet Amendment 10-2, which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of Confessions.  Disapproved, because as an amendment to the Book of Confessions it needed a 2/3 vote, and did not receive that.

bullet Amendment 10-1, which  adopts the new Form of Government that was approved by the Assembly.   Approved.

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Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

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 thoughtful community.


John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

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 lightening up.


Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!


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