The Common Good

Disarm Iraq Without War

Sojomail - September 18, 2002


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+++++++++++++++++++++ 18-September-2002 +++++++++++++++++++++
++++++++++++++++++ Disarm Iraq Without War ++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *Jacques Ellul on violence and propaganda

 H e a r t s   &   M i n d s
     *Disarm Iraq without war

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *SojoCircles respond to drums of war

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *Contrasting casualties in the Middle East
 P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
     *All the news unfit to print: Top 10 censored stories

 P. O. V.
     *Occupation and resurrection: Images of Palestine

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *How did you pray this year?

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Trashing trailer parks: Reputation and reality

 B o o m e r a n g
     *SojoMail readers reply

 W e b s c e n e
     *Mystery worshippers
     *Software for nonprofits
     *Images with impact 
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Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k

"Almost always, it is the conviction that 'I am right' or 'my 
cause is the cause of justice' that triggers violence. That is,
...the moment propaganda does its work, violence is unleashed. 
And violence can be reduced by countering this propaganda."

                                    - Jacques Ellul


H e a r t s   &   M i n d s
Disarm Iraq without war

by Jim Wallis

Saddam Hussein is an evil ruler, no doubt about it. But that is not enough for a war. Other heads of state have been evil, including some who have been allies of the United States (including Saddam during Iraq's war with Iran). Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. But that is not enough for a war either. Many other nations have them, too, including U.S. allies, Israel, and ourselves. The question is what Saddam's evil portends for the world, whether there is an imminent and urgent threat from his weapons, and, of course, what response would be both effective and consistent with Christian ethics.

Saddam Hussein is not a suicide bomber. Rather, the only consistent commitment he has ever shown has been to the preservation of his own power. Those who minimize his evil are morally irresponsible; those who underestimate his willingness to commit mass murder are making a serious mistake. But the question is, what's our best response? What would protect lives in danger rather than threaten even more and potentially make everything worse?

Christian peacemaking calls us to seek alternatives to war in resolving conflicts. There are alternative means to contain Iraq's development of weapons of mass destruction. What is needed is a "carrot and stick" diplomacy. U.N. Security Council resolutions have called for the "destruction, removal, or rendering harmless" of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons along with ballistic missiles in Iraq. The expressed willingness of Iraq to allow the unconditional return of U.N. weapons inspectors should be welcomed and tested rather than dismissed. We should cooperate with the U.N. in enforcing these resolutions through effective and comprehensive weapons inspections. But the incentive should be a gradual lifting of sanctions and a pledge of no military attack if Iraq really cooperates. This combination would strengthen the containment of Saddam Hussein without the risks and costs of military attack, and provide a reason for him to comply. Saddam and his Iraqi regime must indeed be disarmed of weapons of mass destruction, but it should be done without war.

The international community can either unite in an effective strategy to isolate, contain, disarm, and ultimately undermine the brutal and dangerous regime of Saddam Hussein, or simply agree to the war agenda of the world's last remaining superpower. As for the reasonable goal of "regime change," the Iraqi people themselves must create the nonviolent civil resistance within their country to help achieve that goal, as Jack DuVall and Peter Ackerman described in the September-October issue of Sojourners.

We are launching a "Disarm Iraq Without War" campaign to help mobilize the religious community. We've initiated a statement to President Bush and Prime Minister Blair from religious leaders in the United States and the United Kingdom opposing preemptive military action as illegal, unwise, and immoral. We are posting a new section on our Web page with ideas for action, resources for further information, and an online forum where you can share your thoughts. We will be regularly updating the page with new information. See this campaign at:

The next several months will show what lessons we have learned from Sept. 11, as the U.S. government and the United Nations determine their course of action in Iraq. Our choices include the rule of law or the habit for war, unilateral decisions or collective action, effective containment or unpredictable escalations. It is a time for just peacemaking instead of unjust war-making.


Many of our readers have made a tax-deductible gift to Sojourners' campaign to mobilize the religious community in strong and visible opposition to war with Iraq. Your donations, which we spend carefully on the people, additional time, and technology that are necessary to organize a critical campaign, and your feedback and prayers are making a difference as we continue this important call to action.

We know that not all of you are in a position to help financially at this time, but if you are able to make a gift and haven't yet done so, we need your help.

Thank you!


B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
SojoCircles respond to drums of war

In the ominous shadow of Sept. 11th, SojoCircles are developing all over the world as people gather together in community to make sense of the tragedy, pray for healing, and discuss where to go from here. And now, with a possible war on Iraq, these groups are becoming even more relevant. To find the SojoCircle nearest you, to inquire about starting one, and for a complete list of locations, go to:

Our newest members are:

London, England. Kori Winter:
Athens, Georgia: John Richardson:
Las Cruces, New Mexico. Barbara Scoville:

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B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
Contrasting casualties in the Middle East

* Number of Israelis killed by Palestinians from Sept. 29, 2000 to August 19, 2002: 619

* Number of Israeli children killed: 72

* Israelis killed outside the green line in the Occupied Territories: 328

* Members of the Israeli security forces among them: 118


* Number of Palestinians killed by Israelis from Sept. 29, 2000 to August 19, 2002: 1,658

* Killed by Israeli security forces: 1,576

* Killed by Israeli settlers: 21

* Died at check points: 61

* Number of Palestinian children (under 18) killed: 294

* Chance that an Israeli assassination of terrorist suspects will result in the death of an innocent bystander: 48% (44 bystanders killed in 91 assassinations)

Source: A Jewish Voice For Peace

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Remembering - and learning from - Sept. 11. 

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P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
All the news unfit to print: Top 10 censored stories

Project Censored's annual list always serves as a fascinating chronicle of recent political history. Their broad definition of censorship reflects the fact that these stories often emerge only to disappear and lurk below the surface, often for months or years, before being noticed by our less than fearless corporate media.

Here are their picks for 2001:

1. Corporate Takeover of the Airwaves
2. General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) For-Profit Model Threatens to Gobble Up World's Water
3. U.S. Policy Funds Human Rights Abuses in Colombia
4. Bush Administration Ordered FBI Off Bin Laden Trail
5. U.S. Destruction of Iraqi Water Supply
6. Renewed Threat of Nuclear Warfare
7. Public Schools Become Guinea Pigs for HMO Model
8. NAFTA Impoverishes Small Family Farmers
9. Housing Crisis in the U.S.
10. CIA Spooks Destabilize Macedonia

Get the details on these under-reported stories at:

And for a daily news source that goes beyond the mainstream:


P. O. V.
Occupation and resurrection: Images of Palestine

Sojourners presents a special online project of photos, music, and narration describing life in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. With sections on occupation, curfew, solidarity, and resurrection, this multimedia presentation communicates harsh realities of life in Palestine, but also offers hopeful stories and unique perspectives on the conflict.

Go to:


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S o u l   W o r k s
How did you pray this year?

Spiritual teachers from a variety of traditions were asked how they prayed following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks:

"I have found myself praying more for our country in recent months than I have in the past. It's a prayer that we should be true to our best selves, our best values, and not fall prey to imitating the enemy, becoming vengeful."
-- The Rev. Donald Shriver, Presbyterian minister

"My prayer is that our faith will continue to be strong and our prayers will not just be words. That they will lead us to act in ways that will lead to tolerance, goodness, compassion, and to courageousness and peace."
-- Naomi Levy, rabbi and author of "Talking to God"

"...It is important to pray for peace and security based on justice, not peace at all costs. If there is not justice, peace will not take place, and, in fact, it is an offense to God."
-- Seyyed Hossein Nasr, professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University

read more responses at:


C u l t u r e   W a t c h
Trashing trailer parks: Reputation and reality

by Jesse Walker, Reason

"Mobile homes are always being attacked," Stewart Brand wrote in his 1994 book "How Buildings Learn." "By aesthetes for their appearance. By bigots for housing the 'wrong' people. By the construction industry for 'unfair' competition. By local government for paying insufficient taxes." Even the last charge is invalid: As Brand notes, trailer parks often save governments money, by taking on the costs of sewage, water, trash collection, and road maintenance. Yet the foul reputation remains.

Lately, the war on manufactured housing has been stepped up. If the local sheriff isn't pushing to evict a park, developers may be itching to build something more conventionally attractive - and profitable - on the land. Sometimes, of course, this takes place privately, between the developer and the landlord. (For that reason, among many others, some mobile home owners have been forming trailer park co-ops, thus cutting the landlord out of the picture.)

Read the full story:

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B o o m e r a n g
SojoMail readers hit reply

David Morgan writes from Vancouver, Canada:

Why is President Bush right to call Saddam Hussein an international threat? If he is such a threat then why is it that none of Iraq's neighbors, except for Kuwait, are eager to see George Bush attack Iraq?

Iraq has 18 cubic km of low-production cost oil reserves; the U.S. has 4 cubic km of high-production cost oil reserves. It is not Saddam's weapons of mass destruction that oil men George Bush and Dick Cheney are concerned with, it is his Resources of Mass Attraction.


Page Shelton writes from St. Simons Island, Georgia:

In our nation, war has become part of the usual business of the government and the people. We were founded in war and most of the history that we teach or that we celebrate is about war. War is the taking of human life that is a gift of God and that belongs only to God.

As Christians we are called to find ways to contain, to protect, and to reconcile short of war. War is a last resort when all else fails. Not all else has failed, but war seems inevitable. When it comes, we need to be prepared to limit the killing and to confess that the war is an admission of our failure to honor God's calling to respect and protect the lives of God's children in Iraq and in the USA.


Paul L. Whiteley Sr. writes from Louisville, Kentucky:

Talk of war diverts attention from the country's unstable economy and corporate scandals that affect every citizen. Republicans do not want to talk about the economy or the scandals. They want to start a war in the Middle East that has the potential to be the war to end all wars. The Bush administration has said it would not attack Iraq before the election. If it does, that is a sure sign President Bush's call for war is politically motivated and not in America's or the world's best interests.

America is on the verge of getting trapped in the never- ending cycle of violence that has plagued Israel for so long. An eye for an eye is a losing philosophy. Jesus Christ, George W. Bush's favorite author-philosopher, pointed that out 2,000 years ago.


Scott Rosner writes from Placentia, California:

It was with great anticipation and enthusiasm that I ordered, received and read your entire package of materials on terrorism, "A Moral Response to Terror." I was bitterly disappointed. Are you a Christian organization? I have read through several emails you have delivered since hearing of you and consistently am stunned by the virtual non- existence of Christianity. In dozens of articles covering nearly 50 pages of text, how many times did you mention the name "Jesus Christ"? His name somehow came up a handful of times in three articles.

What a pathetic, disgusting performance. You have made a mockery of the entire theme of the study. Your "worship" suggestions never included a mention of our Lord and Savior's name. Who exactly were you encouraging us to worship? Do you want to know how to cure hatred and AIDS, violence and greed, terrorism and corruption? Preach Jesus Christ!


Susan E. Siens writes from Unity, Maine:

I would like to dissent from the opinion expressed in Boomerang [09-04-02] regarding The site is hilarious! For all I know, there may be a site for Jews who worship a loving God to laugh about their horrifying brethren as well. As long as there are Christians picketing funerals of homosexuals and toting signs that say "God Hates Fags," we need bettybowers!


Hillel Arnold writes from Bridgeport, Connecticut:

Please tell me that Sojourners has not fallen for the hype surrounding major musical figures. First it was the almost completely uncritical review of Springsteen's horrible new album [SojoMail 08-14-02], and now it's a celebration of Lauryn Hill's withdrawal into shameless self-indulgence. ["Hip Hop, Psalms, and Lamentations," SojoMail 09-11-02]

[Springsteen's] "The Rising" is a completely cowardly attempt to cash in on Sept. 11. The songs all dwell in the cozy and uncritical realm of the personal drama, never daring to venture into anything as dangerous as the political reality in the months following Sept. 11.

Bethany Versluis' review of Lauryn Hill's "MTV Unplugged 2.0", while beautifully written, forgets one important thing. While it's nice for Hill to claim that she "doesn't consider herself a performer anymore," the reality is that a lot of people will pay a lot of money to see her, whether she's performing or not. Wake up Lauryn, you're a superstar and you sold your soul the day that you signed your record contract.

As a magazine that claims to be in touch with culture, I hope that Sojourners is swayed less by a five-star review in Rolling Stone and more by an educated, intelligent Gospel- based sense of our culture.


Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of views. The views expressed are not necessarily those of Sojourners. Want to make your voice heard? Send Boomerang e-mails to the editor:



W e b s c e n e
This week's best of the Web

*Mystery worshippers has an intrepid team of mystery worshippers travelling incognito in the British aisles and beyond, reporting on the comfort of the pews, the warmth of the welcome, the length of the sermon.... The only clue that they have been there at all is the Mystery Worshipper calling card, dropped discreetly into the collection plate.


*Software for nonprofits

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*Images with impact

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