Friday, December 23, 2005


UPI has just put out a brief statement (Canadian church pressures PM on Iraq) about the letter from the United Church of Canada calling for the withrawal of troops from Iraq and an end to illegal detentions, covered more fully on Ekklesia. I don't dissent from their basic stance, though the 'when' and 'how' of military disengagement is a complex question which needs to be related to the development of a peacemaking force on the ground, the role of the UN, aid and development. (On theological grounds I am deeply committed to principled non-violence as the form of engagement and witness required of the Body of Christ, but I don't think we should duck the policy issues pressed upon those who have to manage the reality of the situation.)

What worries me more, however, is the UCC's rather stark rooting of blame for the whole Iraq quagmire on US and British intervention - as if the forces of violent insurgency, militarised jihadism, criminality and malignant Baa'thism could be ignored, or were mere epiphenomena of (undoubted and long-standing) Western failings which will disappear when "we" choose to "go home". As if.

A sound political understanding of the situation, and of how the difficult peace of Christ might be brought to bear in the midst of it, cannot in my view be sustained on the basis of such a thin analysis. As they say, "its a long conversation", but I have tried to boil down some of the issues here, starting from the war-on-terror question.

Without the dove the serpent lacks the capacity for redemption, but without the serpent the dove lacks the means to face the world's wiles.

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