I just don't know
March 7 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

I just don't know | Friday, March 7, 2003

Friday, March 7, 2003

I just don't know

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

I wish there was an easy answer to the issue of war with Iraq - a clear certainty about the propriety of a conflict that will undoubtedly leave some Americans and many Iraqis dead.

Men and women of both conscience and faith see the issue in diametrically opposing ways. My problem is that, like many others, I'm torn between the two.

I feel like Tevye, the troubled father in Fiddler on the Roof. When faced with a difficult decision, he was prone to say "On the one hand ..., but on the other hand ... ."

On the one hand, I don't have a problem accepting that some wars may indeed be just and right. While I find the ultimate ideals of pacifism appealing, I cannot imagine that God expects us to simply stand by when innocents suffer under cruel oppressors.

On the other hand, there is the question of whether this impending invasion meets the criteria of a just war. If Saddam Hussein's soldiers were still gassing the Kurds within Iraq's borders or occupying Kuwait and terrorizing its populace, as was the case in 1991, the choice would be easier.

On the one hand, there seems little question that Hussein has routinely violated terms of the 1991 surrender and has failed to cooperate willingly with U.N. inspectors sent to ensure that Iraq does not possess or develop "weapons of mass destruction."

On the other hand, those same inspectors, despite help from U.S. intelligence sources, have failed to uncover the hoards of biological and chemical weapons Iraq is reputed to have. And, under the obvious pressure of the U.S. military buildup in the region, Iraq appears to be more compliant in granting access and destroying weapons.

On the one hand, it seems incontrovertible that Hussein has used brutal and oppressive tactics in order to build and maintain his power base, including the use of chemical weapons on his own people. Surely a war is justified to prevent future atrocities.

On the other hand, it seems possible that widespread awareness of his past misdeeds and unified international pressure could be an effective deterrent to future carnage.

On the one hand, President Bush says Hussein has links to terrorist organizations, to whom he may open his presumed stores of anthrax and toxic agents.

On the other hand, many remain unconvinced by the intelligence information the president cites. And, one might postulate that the poisons in question could fall more easily into the hands of terrorists if Iraq should become destabilized.

On the one hand, we like to assume that the Iraqi people would welcome the U.S. as liberators and embrace democratic reforms.

On the other hand, there is no guarantee that the next government will be a substantial improvement.

On the one hand, we hear that deposing Hussein would be a blow against terrorism.

On the other hand, many will undoubtedly see an invasion of Iraq as one more sign of American arrogance, as one more excuse to support those who would attack America with weapons of terror.

On the one hand, laying out the criteria for a just war may seem to be an objective enterprise.

On the other hand, interpreting current events and applying them to just war theory involves a great deal of subjectivity, especially when it comes to defining what it means to reach the point of "last resort."

Are we there yet?

I just don't know.

What I do know is that waging peace - whether in marriage or in denominational relations or in international affairs - is worth every effort we can give it.

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3/7/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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