A commentary on 'A Call to Repentance,' Lakeland Ledger article



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

12-09-2005

Of course all Christians should desire and work for peace. Peace, however, isn't simply the absence of conflict, and just because we didn't find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't delegitimize the U.S. military presence in Iraq.

First of all, as a matter of history, we know that the weapons did exist because Saddam Hussein regularly used them against his own people and neighbors, most notably during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. To say that Hussein had and was willing to use WMDs was no mere speculation; it was simply a matter of looking at his own past actions.

Secondly, even if weapons weren't found, is it the right course to just stand by and allow an intolerable situation to exist when we have it in our power to act? I would point out that as a military veteran who served over there after the first Gulf War, I heard criticisms from the same "peace camp" that the United States economic blockade during the 1990s was responsible for killing more than 1 million Iraqi children. If true, should we have allowed such a situation to continue indefinitely into the future? Furthermore, there is no doubt that Hussein was a cruel and oppressive dictator who was responsible for killing his own people by the thousands. By  your logic, if our involvement in Iraq was unjust, then so was former President Clinton's involvement in Bosnia. Furthermore, if what you seem to say is true, then the rest of the world has no business worrying about what  has, and is, happening in places such as Rwanda and Sudan. We should just "shut up and keep the peace." We have no moral authority to act in those countries.

The fact is, the war in Iraq was moral and just if for no other reason than the fact that it has brought freedom and improved the lives of virtually every Iraqi outside of a small contingent of "insurgents" who are intent on installing a fanatical Islamic state. 

Third, I would point out that Al Qaeda itself regards Iraq as the central front in its war against us. The mere fact that the group responsible for orchestrating the deaths of 3,000 Americans considers Iraq to be so important would alone justify our presence in that country. I know from your recent statement that the Methodist bishops would probably dispute this argument, but as for myself, I am willing to take the opinion of the principals to this conflict over the subjective beliefs of a few ill-informed bishops who probably have it out for the president anyway. 

With regard to your point about the United Nations, it is also a matter of historical record that the United Nations passed more than 96 resolutions against that country and refused to act on a single one. Also, if recollection serves me, the decision to move into Iraq was no mere rush to war, but was debated and rehashed in this country's newspapers and within the U.N. Security Counsel for well over a year before any action was taken. Furthermore, it has now come to light that the United Nation's position on Iraq was highly compromised by the oil-for-food scandal, which gave other member states a vested interest in ensuring the status quo, regardless of the facts on the ground. While it is highly admirable for this country to honor its treaties, in a situation in which the country had been attacked less that two years prior, the United States was justified in taking action even in the face of resistance by a highly corrupt and compromised United Nations.  (As a personal matter, I've never understood the United Methodist fascination with this organization anyway. From reading some of the General Board of Church and Society statements in particular, one would think we are in the business of worshipping the United Nations instead of God!) When our domestic security is at stake and we have the means to act, we would be extremely stupid to allow our hand to be forced by such a corrupt and incompetent organization as the United Nations.

A final thing that burns me about the bishops' statement is the way the signing bishops refuse to take full ownership for it. I have sent several e-mails and followed this story very closely on the Methodist Web site and in the press, and every time the bishops are confronted, they make the claim that they are "just speaking their own conscience" on the matter. Excuse the bluntness of this statement, but that's a crock of bull! You are cishops of the church after all. You signed the statement as bishops of the church, and you are, therefore, representing the entire Methodist church in spite of your protests to the contrary. You had to know that to many of the lay people sitting in the pews, and to the outside world, this was going to at least be perceived as the official position of the Methodist church. At least if you are going to have the audacity to stake out a controversial position on a divisive issue, please have the backbone to take full ownership of the statement. In that case, I would have at least had more respect for the Council of Bishops. Now, I just believe that you not only wrong, but weak and disingenuous.

Michael Snyder
St. Peter's United Methodist Church; Katy, Texas




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