Majority Opposes Unilateral Strike; Poll Shows Support for U.N.-Backed Action; Faith Leaders Call for Peace. (World)

By Donovan, Gill | National Catholic Reporter, January 24, 2003 | Go to article overview

Majority Opposes Unilateral Strike; Poll Shows Support for U.N.-Backed Action; Faith Leaders Call for Peace. (World)


Donovan, Gill, National Catholic Reporter


While President Bush continues to mobilize U.S. forces for war with Iraq, a growing number of international and national religious leaders are voicing opposition to such a war, and a recent survey of Americans shows that a substantial majority opposes any unilateral U.S. military attack.

Though 83 percent of Americans said in the survey that they would give their support to U.S. troops participating in Iraq as part of a broad coalition of nations with the backing of the United Nations, the survey found that 59 percent of the population opposes a unilateral U.S. strike. Only 47 percent expressed support for a war in which the United States "and one or two of its major allies" led an attack on Iraq.

The margin of error for the survey of 1,204 Americans was plus or minus 3 percentage points. It was conducted Jan. 3 to Jan. 6 by Princeton Survey Research Associates and sponsored by Knight Ridder Newspapers.

Speaking on British television Jan. 5, retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu said Britain's support for the United States in threatening Iraq with war is "mind-boggling." The Nobel Peace Prize winner and former archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, said, "I just hope one day people will realize that peace is a far better path to follow.

"Many, many of us are deeply saddened to see a great country such as the United States aided and abetted--extraordinarily--by Britain." This, he said, is "mind-boggling, mind-boggling."

Tutu said he longed to ask the United States and Britain, "When does compassion, when does morality, when does caring come in?"

Emphasizing that peace is possible and "your enemy is a friend waiting to be made" is "not starry-eyed" but possible. "It happened here" in South Africa, he said.

Tutu also said he thought that "devastating things" like the Sept. 11 attacks made people begin to realize they could not go it alone.

"The truth of the matter is we realize that we will not win the war against terrorism as long as there are conditions in other parts of the world that make people sufficiently desperate to say: `We have nothing to lose,' "Tutu said.

In Alexandria, Va., two Catholics began a three-week fast for peace Epiphany Sunday, Jan. 5, to call attention to their opposition to the idea of a preemptive war against Iraq.

The men, Tim McKinney, a Vietnam veteran and attorney, and Jack McHale, an executive for an air express courier company, are acting independently of their parish. Their pastor, Fr. Donald Greenhalgh of St. Mary of Sorrows Parish in Fairfax, has disassociated himself from the men's actions. However, support in the community has begun to build. More than 100 Catholics and college students have agreed to participate in the fast for one or more days, taking part in a "relay fast" to coincide with McHale and McKinney's.

According to a news release, McHale, a member of the peace organization Pax Christi, said, "The day I am able to envision Jesus Christ fly. ing a jet fighter and shooting missiles or dropping bombs is the day that I will accept war as a method for settling disputes among humans."

McKinney, who lost the use of his right arm when wounded in Vietnam, said he now considers war a last resort.

On Jan. 10, the top bishop of the Episcopal church, in a stinging rebuke of American foreign policy, said that the United States is rightly "hated and loathed" around the world for its "reprehensible" rhetoric and blind eye toward poverty and suffering. …

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