Pope John 23 said these words in 1963. These words were recently repeated by Pope John Paul, in a speech expressing the Vatican's opposition to U.S. war plans to overthrow the government in Iraq.
Go to an antiwar rally, and you will likely see a lot of veterans and older people. That is because they have a clear vision of just how horrible war really is. There is an overwhelmingly distorted view in America that war does not cause suffering and pain. We seem to have forgotten the words of General William Tecumseh Sherman in 1864: "War is hell."
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit, has traveled on seven humanitarian missions to Iraq since 1991, and most recently to Afghanistan. He has stated three compelling reasons not to initiate war:
1. War destroys the lives of innocent people.
War will be waged all out. The concept that surgical strikes and smart weapons can be used to conduct humane war is a myth. We have made tremendous gains in the power of our weapons, and are prepared to unleash tremendous suffering upon all of Iraq, not just Saddam Hussein and the Republican Guard. We have already bombed the country into the stone age. It is time to help them repair their nation, not further destroy any chance for the same kind of peaceful future that we hope to enjoy.
The U.S. military dropped 88 thousand tons of bombs in 42 days in 1991, during the Gulf War.
A UN Report published in March of 1991, documented the destruction of civilian infrastructure in Iraq by U.S. bombs, notably including sewage treatment plants and drinking water purification plants.
Civilians are increasingly becoming the victims of war despite what we are told. In:
World War 1, 5% of casualties were civilian.
World War 2, 50% of casualties were civilian.
the Vietnam War, 90% of casualties were civilian.
600,000 civilians were killed during World War 2 in Dresden
300,000 civilians were killed during World War 2 in Tokyo
2. War throws into upheaval the lives of those who do the killing.
There is a movement among veterans to oppose all out war in Iraq: "A Call to Conscience"
encourages members of the U.S. armed forces to find out what they are being sent to fight and die for, and what the consequences of their actions will be for humanity. Active duty and reservists are called upon to follow their consciences and do the right thing. This pledge has been signed by many American veterans.
A similar movement exists in the Israeli Armed forces to resist illegal settlements in occupied territories.
Also see a letter to Canadian soldiers sent by Hamilton Action for Social Change
The US Military used 40 tons of Uranium 238 shell casings along with experimental drugs, and pesticides in Iraq during the Gulf War. U 238 is a dangerous radioactive alpha particle emitter that will continue to cause cancer and birth defects for thousands and thousands of years.
According to the U.N., the increase in cancer rates in Iraq between 1991 and 1994 was 700%.
The child death rate in Iraq has risen in Iraq from 38 per 1000 births to 131 per 1000 between 1989 and 1999, an increase of 345%.
1.5 million Iraqis are estimated to have died by October 1999 as a result of UN sanctions including 750,000 children.
1 out of 4 of American Gulf War veterans are disabled. Many feel abandoned and betrayed by their government.
More Vietnam veterans committed suicide after returning from the Vietnam war, than were killed during the war. Daniel Ellsberg was punished for revealing facts that he was commissioned by the Pentagon to investigate, such as that more American officers in Vietnam were killed by their own troops than by the enemy.
The US Military slaughtered six thousand Iraqis as they fled on the road to Basra; it is said that many were buried alive by tanks with plows mounted on the fronts.
Government and military leaders incite hatred to justify war. Senator John McCain stated that hatred for the enemy sustained him during the Vietnam war long before he was taken captive. Hatred allows soldiers to do what the human spirit would otherwise not allow. Without hatred, the soldier's hand would recoil in disgust. If the policies of the world's remaining superpower are to be guided by hatred, can there be any hope for our civilization?
3. War leaves behind a trail of hatred and resentment that makes it nearly impossible to achieve long term peace and stability.
The US has bombed 22 countries since the end of World War II. In none of these instances did a democratic government, respectful of human rights, occur as a direct result
Long term military occupation will be required by an invasion of Iraq. Military occupation will likely trigger even more hatred and terror. The events of 9/11 were committed out of anger that the US military is present on Saudi Arabian soil against the wishes of most Saudis.
War in Iraq will lead to other military conflicts involving the Kurds in the North and the Shiites in the south of Iraq. Will the US stop the wholesale slaughter of Kurds by Turkey and Iraq? How will the US react if pro-Iranian forces join in the battle in the south of Iraq?
Pre-emptive strikes will destroy the legal and moral structure which has been in place for 500 years and was codified in the Nuremburg Principles. The UN Charter states that no nation may wage aggressive war against another nation. For more information on relevant treaties, see the Yale Avalon Project.
A similar opinion was published by a group of U.S. Law professors
John Brady Kiesling, a diplomat at the United States Embassy in Athens, said in his resignation letter, "Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America's most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson."
There are better ways than war to solve the current problems in the Middle East.
Iraq's current military is 1/3 of what it was in 1991.
General Nizar al-Khazraji, who led Iraq's army during the Gulf War stated: " in a BBC interview, I'm sure if the armed forces, if the people inside Iraq believe that the West will help the Iraqis in lifting the sanctions, promising too to help the Iraqis in the future, to keep the country unified, to keep Iraq independent -that will encourage us to overthrow the regime."
Bishop Gumbleton has concluded that if the US wages war on Iraq, in the name of peace and humanity we should:
Use all energies to resist
Refuse to cooperate
Be willing to pay the cost of being true to our convictions.
For more information, or to get involved see:
Voices in the Wilderness
humbly compiled by c.p.m. 3/3/3
"The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." --George Orwell