Action against Iraq ‘unjustifiable’

Archbishop Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has issued a statement in which he says that military action against Iraq cannot lead to a more stable or peaceful Middle East. He urged church members to pray for “a just and peaceable outcome in this tense situation.”

The text of the statement:

“Once again it appears possible that Canada may join with the United States in a punitive attack against Iraq.

“In similar circumstances seven years ago I issued a moral reflection on that action based upon the classic Christian criteria for determining the justifiability of a particular war, and judged that by those criteria such aggressive intervention was not justified then.

“I believe that this judgment still stands in the present circumstances and I urge continued diplomatic efforts towards resolution.

“One of the traditional criteria requires that the use of force be proportional to the situation. The proposed military intervention arises from the Iraqi government’s continued defiance of United Nations resolutions. Of course, the most satisfactory outcome would be compliance by the Iraqi government with the United Nations resolutions. However, South Africa’s defiance during the apartheid years was met with sanctions, not force, and Israel’s defiance of UN resolutions about the occupation of Palestinian territory has never been challenged.

“Another criterion calls for discrimination in the use of force, that is, the protection of non-combatants. No guarantees in this area have been offered, and the evidence suggests that Iraqi civilians and civil society will suffer. As well, the United States refuses to rule out the use of nuclear weapons, a gesture which raises yet another spectre.

“Another criterion calls for a reasonable chance of success. The 1991 war may have succeeded in a military sense but did not produce a more peaceful or more stable Middle East, nor did it end the Iraqi violations of the UN resolutions, and I believe the present action has no better prospects for long-term peaceful resolution.

“I appreciate that the Canadian contribution is minimal, but I am nonetheless gravely concerned that the lives of our military personnel are being put at risk in an unjustifiable action.

“I find it impossible to see how long-term peace building and the empowering of the Iraqi people to improve their own circumstances are being served by this exercise.

“I want to associate myself with the concerns expressed by the World Council of Churches in this regard, and to assure all involved, beginning with our military personnel and including all other potential victims, of my prayers for their safety.

“And finally, I urge members of the Anglican Church of Canada to continue in their prayers for a just and peaceable outcome in this tense situation.”

Michael G. Peers
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church of Canada

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