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Opposition to War in Iraq

November 2004

CPA Annual Conference October 2002

The Council of the Christian Peoples Alliance calls on the Government to take steps to secure disarmament of Iraq without waging war and endorses the view of church leaders in Britain and the United States that a pre-emptive war against Iraq, particularly in the current situation would not be justified.

CPA Council believes Iraq must be disarmed of weapons of mass destruction and that alternative courses to war should be diligently pursued. We regard Saddam Hussein and his regime in Iraq as a real threat to his own people, neighbouring countries, and to the world. His previous use and continued development of weapons of mass destruction is of great concern to us. But the CPA opposes proposed military responses to that threat and the illegal concept of forced regime change.

CPA Council believes the Iraqi government has a duty to stop its internal repression, to end its threats to peace, to abandon its efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, and to respect the legitimate role of the United Nations in ensuring that it does so. But the international community must pursue these goals in a manner consistent with moral principles, political wisdom, and international law.

Joining with many in the Christian community, Christian Democrats seek to be guided by the vision of a world in which nations do not attempt to resolve international problems by making war on other nations. It is a long-held Christian principle that all governments and citizens are obliged to work for the avoidance of war.

We therefore urge the British and American governments to pursue alternative means to disarm Iraq of its most destructive weapons. We call for diplomatic cooperation with the United Nations in renewing rigorously effective and thoroughly comprehensive weapons inspections, linked to the gradual lifting of sanctions. The CPA believes such steps could help achieve the disarmament of Iraq without the risks and costs of military attack.

The CPA Council opposes the idea of a pre-emptive war with Iraq on the grounds that there would be massive civilian casualties; that it would be waged without adequate international authority and that a result cannot be predicted that would be proportionate to the cost. It is our conviction that the threat of Saddam Hussein could be contained in other, less costly ways. An attack on Iraq would also set an unwelcome precedent for pre-emptive war, further destabilize the Middle East, and fuel more terrorism. We, therefore do not believe that war with Iraq can be justified under the principle of a "just war," but would be illegal, unwise, and immoral.

The CPA Council believes that an adequate justification for war has yet to be presented. Iraq has not attacked or directly threatened the United States, nor has it been made clear that its weapons of mass destruction pose an immediate and urgent threat to neighbouring countries or the world. Iraq has not been credibly implicated in the attacks of September 11. Under international law, including the U.N. Charter, the only circumstance under which individual states may invoke the authority to go to war is in self-defence following an armed attack. In Christian just war doctrine, there are rigorous conditions even for an act of self-defence. Pre-emptive war by one state against another is not permitted by either law or doctrine. For the United States and Britain to initiate military action against Iraq, as they have threatened, without authorization by the United Nations Security Council would set a dangerous precedent that would threaten the foundations of international security and undermine the authority of the UN.

The CPA Council joins with Christian leaders around the world in expressing concern at the potential human costs of war. If the military strategy includes massive air attacks and urban warfare in the streets of Baghdad, tens of thousands of innocent civilians could lose their lives. This alone makes such a military attack morally unacceptable. In addition, the people of Iraq continue to suffer severely from the effects of the Gulf War, the resulting decade of sanctions and the neglect and oppression of a brutal dictator.

As Christian Democrats, we reaffirm our work for a world in which "nation shall not lift up sword against nation" and call on the Government to be guided by moral principles, political wisdom, and legal standards. We urge it to step back from calls for war.

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Promoted by Peter Vickers, CPA Federal Office St. Luke's Community Centre, 85 Tarling Road, London, E16 1HN