`We Must Oppose This War'. (Iraq)

By King, Martin Luther, Jr. | Sojourners Magazine, March-April 2003 | Go to article overview

`We Must Oppose This War'. (Iraq)


King, Martin Luther, Jr., Sojourners Magazine


[The Lord] shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.--Micah 4:3

"You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.... Be perfect, therefore, as God in heaven is perfect." --Matthew 5:43-44, 48

We are Christians, clergy and laity, from Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and Historic Peace Church communities. After careful consideration and prayer, as citizens who love our country, we have come to painful conclusions.

We believe that U.S. war against Iraq would be unjust and immoral. As a "pre-emptive" attack unprecedented in our history, it would dishonor our nation, disregard morality, and violate international law. Citizens of good will are thrown into a crisis of conscience by our government's threatened initiation of this war.

A potential threat is not sufficient for war. Even if posed by a ruthless dictator, it is not enough that he might possess weapons of mass destruction, and that he might use them against us (or our allies) at some vague time in the future. Saddam Hussein has often been reckless, but he knows that he could not use weapons of mass destruction without bringing down ruin on himself.

This war is not a last resort. Reasonable remedies to our government's and the world's concerns have not been exhausted. Inspections, for example, have been effective in the past and need to be given a reasonable chance once again.

This war lacks legitimate authority. According to the clear wording of our Constitution, the authority to declare war resides only in Congress; and only the U.N. has authority to enforce its resolutions. It is not credible to decry violations of U.N. resolutions by our enemies while discounting those by our friends.

This war is likely to bring terrible, massive casualties to Iraqi civilians, including many children, elderly, and other defenseless people, as well as to American troops. No nation or people can exempt itself, legitimately, from the rule of international law and conventions protecting human rights.

This war runs great risks that are not worth the cost. It threatens to unleash chaos in Iraq, chaos in the Middle East, and chaos around the world. Not least, by alienating so many other nations, it threatens to undermine our legitimate efforts against terrorism.

Finally, this war lacks a right intention. To no small degree, it represents a drive for cheap oil and for increased control over the oil-producing world. …

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