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War in Iraq
Indexing reports and comments from July through December, 2005

This page lists all postings from July - December, 2005

Click here for the most recent postings.

For earlier stories:

bullet Postings from Jan - June, 2007
bulletAll postings from 2006
bulletJanuary - June, 2005
bulletNovember - December, 2004
bulletJune through October, 2003.
bulletMarch 18 through May, 2003
bulletMarch 5 - 17, 2003
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.

Christian Peacemaker Teams respond to Bush address on progress in the war in Iraq    [12-24-05]

One said simply, "I tried to watch President Bush's speech, but I couldn't; there was no electricity."   

But others had more to say.

Peggy Gish, 63, commented in Amman, "based on my three years of listening to Iraqis who have suffered the pain of war, U.S. and Iraqi forces' 'on the offensive,' means continued mass arrests, house raids and bombing of civilians, continued illegal detentions, torture, and abuse."

More >>

So ... how many have died in Iraq?   [12-13-05]

The President was asked yesterday how many people have died in Iraq. He answered smoothly that it’s about 30,000. Estimates of the numbers differ widely, and perhaps the total doesn’t really matter, for each death is unique and for some people, that one is all that matters.

We invite you to take a moment to watch a moving, short film about the human cost of the Iraq war. (And then forward it to your friends.) It's a powerful reminder of the individual lives lost, and a call to take action to stop the carnage. If the pro-peace majority can grow -- and make ourselves heard -- we can end this war!

The online film – about 3 minutes long – has been produced by the American Friends Service Committee. It tells the truth about the ongoing loss of life in Iraq – and encourages viewers to sign our petition to bring the troops home.   View the film >>

More on the costs of the war

For a more statistical consideration of the human costs of the war check out "The Iraq Index," an article in The Nation which surveys the numbers, noting that about 26 percent of the Americans killed have been minorities, and that the number of Iraqis killed by American forces may be more than 100,000.

And then there’s the financial cost. The article states: "Each day an estimated $195 million is being spent--money that could provide twelve meals to every starving child in the world, according to Senator Ted Kennedy's office."    [12-14-05]

More >>

2000 U.S. soldiers have now died in Iraq -- along with countless others.

Faithful America invites all of us to join in services of remembrance this weekend.  They provide resources from various faith traditions for the occasion.   [10-25-05]

More >>

Violence finds refuge in falsehood    [10-19-05]

George Hunsinger, McCord Professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary (N.J.), reflects on the biblical recognition that violence depends on falsehood for its justification, just as falsehood often relies on violence to enforce people’s acceptance of it.

Read the essay in Presbyterian Outlook.

Note: This website now requires that you registration to read a complete article, but it’s free.

Generals say U.S. troops are part of the problem in Iraq   [10-3-05]

Last week, U.S. generals in charge of the war in Iraq told members of Congress that "The 149,000 U.S. troops currently in Iraq are increasingly part of the problem," according to the L. A. Times in a report dated October 1 .   More >>

The generals have begun to acknowledge that U.S. forces will not be able to defeat the insurgency, and that it will continue long after U.S. troops have left.

And in an op-ed essay on October 3, Bob Herbert wrote in the New York Times, in a piece headed "For No Good Reason," that "it's finally becoming clear on Capitol Hill, and maybe even in the White House, that the United States cannot win the war in Iraq. The only question still to be decided is how many more American lives will be wasted in George W. Bush's grand debacle."    The article >>

[You can also read this in the New York Times, but you must now be a subscriber to the paper to access their op-ed pieces.]

Presbyterian peacemaker Beth Pyles reports from Baghdad

Among the people, she finds deep anger toward the US, but not hatred – and great courage just to go about living and worshiping    [9-26-05]

Beth Pyles is in Baghdad as a short-term member of a Christian Peacemaker Team. This report was dated September 19.

Thanks to Len Bjorkman of Presbyterian Peace Fellowship for passing it along.

Greetings all!

As many of you know by now, I arrived in Iraq last Thursday to spend the next seven weeks or so here with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), who work to witness the gospel by trying to eliminate or reduce violence in places of conflict around the world.

So early in my sojourn, I have no answers, but lots of impressions. When I traveled to Colombia earlier this year, I was struck by the absence of the men; so many of them have been killed or disappeared. In Iraq, it is the women who are absent: women no longer eat in restaurants; they seldom go out and never unaccompanied; and many are returning to wearing the hijab (head covering), as a safety measure.

Coming in from the airport, traffic came to a virtual halt as there was a convoy of U. S. soldiers ahead, who apparently shoot if anyone gets too close in light of the many car bombings. It was a bit startling to have the guns of my own country trained on me; but other than that, the trip into town was a safe and uneventful one.

The apartment building where CPT members live is next to a block of buildings controlled by the communists. They are good neighbors, I am told, but they too have guns at the ready and guards surrounding their block night and day.

The electricity comes and goes; sometimes the landlord's generator kicks in, sometimes not. After a few days, I find that I barely notice.

Someone invited me to watch television (we don't have one). It seems the favorite show right now in Iraq is a series of 'confessions' of claimed insurgents (an Iraqi journalist investigated and found that many had 'confessed' to killing people who are still alive). The two I saw were barely more than boys and one had obviously been beaten. Someone asked me how it would be back home if detainees from Guantanamo were paraded on television sporting injuries and reciting their confessions. I don't know, but I suspect it might be a big hit.

As the killings continue, on Sunday evening I go to Mass at a nearby Catholic church; the service is beautiful. As I look around at the quiet worshippers surrounding me, I realize that on Friday, Muslims gather in similar fashion at their mosques, in far greater numbers here in Iraq, of course. But what moves me to tears is the great courage it takes all these people, Christian and Muslim alike, merely to leave their homes and go to worship. It is very humbling for this American Christian to ponder.

An Iraqi man tells me that he and his friends were startled to hear George Bush claim that 'they hate us', he being one of the 'they', his response to me was, "do not mistake our anger for hatred. We are angry with you, but we do not hate you. No; we pray for you." This is not a violent man and he does not pretend to speak for all of Islam, but I heard only sadness in his voice.

I wish I were a better writer to convey to you the constant sounds of a city of millions with all its usual noise, along side shepherds ushering their flocks across the highways, along with sounds of mortar attacks (that sound a bit like a truck dropping a heavy load); that I could create the scent in your nostrils that fills mine when I walk the streets, of sewage and garbage; that I could convey to you the sights of people sad, people numb, and most remarkably of all, people laughing and living their lives, ordinary people like you and me. I really wish I could.

I have no great revelations, but this seems true: peace must be lived, not wished for. Please pray for me that I inhabit this time and space as a peaceful presence. Please remember the people of Iraq in your prayers.

Good night and God's peace from Baghdad,

Sojourners reminds us –
Act to protect our children from military recruiters


Buried deep within the No Child Left Behind Act is a provision that requires public high schools to hand over students' private contact information to military recruiters. If a school does not comply, it risks losing vital federal education funds. As if that weren't bad enough, the Pentagon has now built an illegal database of 30 million 16 to 25-year-olds as another recruitment tool.

Vigils support Cindy Sheehan's action, saying No to the war  [8-18-05]
bulletA general report on the vigils around the country
bullet Twin Cities vigil draws over 1000
bulletPhotos from around the country
bulletNCC General Secretary Bob Edgar invites Bush to join Gold Star families at interfaith prayer service Friday outside Bush's ranch
bullet Sheehan blames the Jews?
That's one of the charges leveled against her in the Administration's usual response to criticism.  An anonymous writer sent us a note about it -- and we're happy to provide a response by Rabbi Arthur Waskow to that attack.
bullet Bad Iraq war news and protests worry some in GOP on '06 vote

A very personal visit with Cindy Sheehan
Rita Nakashima Brock, following her appearance at the Freedom and Faith rally in Nashville, visited Cindy Sheehan in Crawford, Texas. She offers a very personal glimpse into what’s happening there.

Cindy Sheehan’s vigil for peace and truth   [8-17-05]

If you’re following the many reports of one mother’s act of conscience on behalf of her son, killed in Iraq, here’s one great collection of articles and photos, including Ms. Sheehan’s own comments.

And William Pitt reports on the creation of the "Arlington West cemetery" by the activists who are accompanying Cindy Sheehan in Crawford, TX – and the harassment of the group, expanding finally to the deliberate desecration of the grave markers by one Larry Northern of Waco, Texas.   More >>

Join a vigil tonight!

Tonight, Wednesday August 17, vigils are being held across the nation in support of Cindy Sheehan's witness for peace.  More >>

Also ...

An interfaith prayer service will be held at the Camp Casey Memorial in Crawford, TX, Friday August 19, 2005, at Noon - U.S. Central Daylight Time.

A suggested prayer for use in the vigils is offered by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia

Cindy Sheehan’s vigil is of course being attacked from the Right.  More >>

If you have more to add --
news of activities, opinions of your own --
please send a note
to be shared here.

Support Cindy Sheehan    [8-11-05]

MoveOn is taking out an ad in President Bush's local newspaper in support of Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq who is camped outside Bush's ranch in Texas asking for a meeting with the president. They'll publish the number of signers and the best comments in a full two-page spread in the newspaper nearest to Crawford (The Waco Tribune Herald) while Cindy holds her vigil. Can you sign and spread the word before the 3:00 PM Friday print deadline? 
Sign the ad and send your comment >>

More on Ms. Sheehan’s witness to the real costs of this war:

Rage Against the Killing of the Light

Mid-August 2005 may be remembered as a moment in US history when the president could no longer get away with the media trick of solemnly patting death on its head. Unreality is a hallmark of media coverage for war. Yet - most of all - war is about death and suffering. War makers thrive on abstractions. Their media successes depend on evasion.

President Bush has tried to keep the loved ones of America's war dead at middle distance, bathed in soft fuzzy light: close enough to exploit for media purposes, distant enough to insulate the commander in chief's persona from the intrusion of wartime mourning in America.

What's going on this week, outside the perimeter of the ranch-style White House in Crawford, is some reclamation of reality in public life. Cindy Sheehan has disrupted the media-scripted shadow play of falsity.

The full article >>

Maureen Dowd asks, "Why No Tea and Sympathy?"

She notes: "It's amazing that the White House does not have the elementary shrewdness to have Mr. Bush simply walk down the driveway and hear the woman out, or invite her in for a cup of tea. But W., who has spent nearly 20 percent of his presidency at his ranch, is burrowed into his five-week vacation and two-hour daily workouts. He may be in great shape, but Iraq sure isn't."

Read the whole column >>

Here’s help in getting the Pentagon recruiters to
"Leave my child alone!"

Witherspooner Amy Ukena suggests this website, which offers practical help in writing letters to "opt out" from your school’s military recruitment lists, by sending letters both to the school and to the Pentagon, as well as supporting the proposed Student Privacy Protection Act.  [7-13-05]

War protesters aren't giving "aid and comfort to our enemies"

Berry Craig, a professor of history at the West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah, reflects on our nation's mixed responses to anti-war protests.  While some (including no less an authority than the President) view dissent and protest as acts of disloyalty, and as giving support to "the enemy," he notes that David Greenberg, an author and a Rutgers professor writing in the online magazine Slate, surveys the history of protest and concludes that "critics of war -- even when they've been wrong, or their comments distasteful -- have done far more good than harm." Greenberg argues further that "the mere expression of opposition has never materially hurt any U.S. military campaign."   [7-11-05]

The bombings in London    [7-8-05]

Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase spent Thursday, July 7, the day of the bombings in London, with a group of sixty teenagers from the United States, South Africa, Northern Ireland, Israel, and Palestine – Jewish, Muslim and Christian – are all participants in a program sponsored by Auburn Seminary in New York called "Face to Face/Faith to Faith."

The young people were nearing the end of two weeks together at a Presbyterian camp, getting to know one another, learning and practicing the communication skills necessary to share and listen to one another’s difficult stories, and becoming a new generation of practitioners of peacemaking.

Watching them deal with this latest blow to peace, Ufford-Chase saw "the Church being Church."

Seeking (fair) treatment in Iraq

A Chicago Presbyterian tells a painful tale of frustration  [7-6-05]

Len Bjorkman, co-moderator of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, introduces this report:

Anita David, an active member of the Lakeview Presbyterian Church in Chicago, is in Iraq with the Christian Peacemaker Team from June to September. As a full-timer with CPT, she was there in the summer of 2004, and is again there during the extremely hot weather.

One of the main activities of CPT is to work with families whose members have been taken by the US military and who endeavor to find out where they are or to visit them. CPT also helps Iraqis who have been injured in the fighting.

The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship considers Anita to be "our person in Baghdad" and forwards her reports to anyone who requests them. If you’d like to receive her reports, send an e-mail to PPF co-moderator, Len Bjorkman

Here is a portion of one of Anita’s emotion-packed reports, sent after very exasperating days of being caught in the bureaucratic maze.

Religious Leaders 4th of July message to Bush:
Don't let Iraq become another historic quagmire

June 30, 2005, New York – Three religious leaders representing the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches USA announced today that about 630 religious leaders and nearly 16,000 people of faith in 44 states have endorsed a Fourth of July declaration that urges President Bush to develop an "early fixed timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops," to listen to a wider range of religious advisers and to re-evaluate his policy on Iraq.

"It's clear that the administration has listened more closely to far-right religious leaders who agree with them," said the Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, NCC General Secretary, in an audio news conference Thursday. "It's a hard task to get the administration to listen to a broader evangelical and religious community."

The statement is an effort to give visibility to a widely held, more moderate religious point of view, one that the group says has been underreported in the national media -- and to attract the administration's attention to the urgency of having an exit strategy for Iraq. America's foreign policy, said the Rev. Dr. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, has made others around the world "view us as a dangerous nation."

More >>
Read the full text of the statement; you may choose to add your own signature -- just scroll down to the end of the statement.

Chinook Down in Afghanistan

During the war in Viet Nam, we watched the news at six and ten, and after 22 years, grew weary of war. We watched the killing and maiming of a generation of brave and patriotic young men and women who fought the war in Viet Nam, and the concurrent alienation of a generation of brave and patriotic young men and women who fought the war in the streets, on the Capitol Mall, at Woodstock, and at Kent State.  

The voices of dissent against the war in Iraq are quiet and reluctant. We understand the wrongness, but find no meaningful definition of rightness. Very few, if any, of us can claim the moral astuteness of knowing the moment or the intersection of our wrong turning.

The certainty of our opposition is lessened by the absence of the draft. We don’t speak of lotteries, deferments, burned draft cards, or evasion or desertion. We now wage war with an all-volunteer force. The believers offer their sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, while the unbelievers watch in anguish and awe at the bravery, the dedication to a cause, and the sacrifice of human life.

Sooner or later, as the death toll nears 2000, the horror of war finds its way into every town, into the inner circle of friendship, into neighborhood and kinship. And weariness becomes frustration and ultimately takes on the color of sorrow.

Those of us who have chosen not to adorn our cars with yellow loops, flags, and simple W’s, shed no fewer tears, feel no lesser pain at the sight of flag-draped coffins. We offer the same prayers for those in harm‘s way, and pray for peace to the same God.

Sanctity of life does not differentiate between the willing and the unwilling, between civilian and soldier, between Muslim and Christian, between brother and nameless impersonal stranger. War, with its heroism and gallantry, and its eventual necessity for the survival of civilization, is not pro-life, nor Christian, nor moral.

Bill Peach
192 Hillhaven Lane
Franklin, TN 37064

This page lists all postings from July - December, 2005

Click here for the most recent postings.

For earlier stories:

bullet Postings from Jan - June, 2007
bullet All postings from 2006
bulletJanuary - June, 2005
bulletNovember - December, 2004
bulletJune through October, 2003.
bulletMarch 18 through May, 2003
bulletMarch 5 - 17, 2003
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.


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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