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War in Iraq? Questions to be considered

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 Contents - Mar 2003AD2000 March 2003 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: War in Iraq? Questions to be considered - Peter Westmore
Sydney Archdiocese RE test: behind one school's success story - Michael Gilchrist
News: The Church Around the World - AD2000
Ten years on former Anglicans enrich Church - Fr Peter Geldard
Vatican tells politicians: Don't hide your light - Michael Casanova
Good priest, bad priest - my faith remains - Frank Mobbs
Religious faith and modern culture: responding to a secular critic - Bill Muehlenberg
Liturgy: The Mass is the same sacrifice as the Cross - Msgr. Peter J. Elliott
New Age ideas: how Catholics should respond - Fr Peter Joseph
The media and evangelisation - Moira Kirkwood
Letters: Brisbane Synod (letter) - John F. Nolan
Letters: 'Partner' or spouse? (letter) - Peter Hannigan
Letters: Women's Commission (letter) - Leon Voesenek
Letters: Church renovation (letter) - T.E. Geraghty
Letters: Government proposals (letter) - Dr Arnold Jago
Letters: Last things (letter) - Kevin McManus
Letters: New springtime (letter) - Errol P. Duke
Letters: Apostolate (letter) - Barry O'Brien
Letters: Catholic websites (letter) - John Carroll
Letters: Third rite (letter) - Norm Power
Letters: Invalid (letter) - Maria Lossberg
Letters: New Age? (letter) - Dr Lance Eccles
Letters: Accountability (letter) - John Leach
Letters: Infallible teaching (letter) - Peter Howard
Poetry: From Tradition (For my mother) - Andrew Huntley
Books: Life's Worth: The Case against Assisted Suicide, by Arthur Dyck - Bill Muehlenberg (reviewer)
Books: Human Cloning And Human Dignity: Report of the President's Council on Bioethics - Bill Muehlenberg (reviewer)
Books: The Self Evident Proof, by Richard Kouchoo - Catherine Sheehan (reviewer)
Books: The Latest from AD Books
Reflection: Lenten self-denial - at the very heart of our lives with Christ - Fr F.E. Burns

The imminent danger of war with Iraq as this issue of AD2000 goes to press raises important and difficult moral questions, made even more complex by current political divisions, which make it hard to separate moral from merely political considerations.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the best guide on such issues, emphasises that all people and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war (2308); but "as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right to lawful self-defence, once all peace efforts have failed."

In relation to Iraq, there is no doubt that the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, has threatened his neighbours - waging war on at least two of them, Iran and Kuwait - tyrannised his people, and thumbed his nose at attempts by the UN, over many years, to force him to abandon his chemical and biological warfare arsenals.

His persistent secret attempts to develop these weapons, which cause indiscriminate and widespread suffering, and his proven willingness to use them, make him a pariah in the international community. For years, Iraq has been under a UN-sanctioned oil embargo, because of its refusal to comply with UN resolutions demanding that the regime disarm.

A question which must be asked is whether the security of the United States is sufficiently threatened by Iraq that it is entitled to act in self-defence against Saddam? After the September 11 bombings, attacks which justify the use of military force must be interpreted more widely than direct invasion.

The UN-sanctioned attack on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was almost universally accepted as morally justified, although it failed to capture much of the leadership of al Qaeda, the Islamic terrorist organisation responsible for September 11, as well as earlier bombings, including those on US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

Terrorist cells connected with al Qaeda perpetrated a terrorist attack in Moscow last year, where hundreds of people were held hostage, and organised the Bali bombing last October, where nearly 200 people died.

While Saddam Hussein's threatening conduct may be sufficient to justify a US strike to disarm him, it would be prudent for the Bush Administration to act only after securing the agreement of the UN Security Council, which has assumed responsibility for disarming the Iraqi dictator.

  • Peter Westmore is Publisher of 'AD2000'.

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 16 No 2 (March 2003), p. 2

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