written by Rev Gary Heard

The politics being played out over the peace marches last weekend has been more than a little disturbing. Personally, I was greatly encouraged by the hundreds of thousands of Australians from every walk of life who were prepared to leave the comfort of their lounge in order to express opposition to this mooted war. There are significant moral and ethical questions which the proponents of war have failed to adequately address. Their response to the protests was even more irksome: indicating that the outcome of the marches was to give encouragement to Saddam Hussain; asking whether these same people were concerned about the suffering being perpetrated in Iraq.

There is no doubt that this is a complex ethical dilemma. Suffering is rampant in Iraq, much of it at the hands of that nation’s leader, but more also the direct result of trade embargoes placed on Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War. Can I express my opposition to this war without being seen to be supporting Saddam Hussein? It appears not in the eyes of those hawks promoting war as the only solution.

Saddam Hussein’s regime is terrible. And so is war. And one suspects that the reasons for this war are not entirely altruistic. The presence of the world’s second largest oil reserves in the region add another item to the agenda which cannot be ignored. The much more patient attitude of these same nations to the growing crisis in North Korea, which is farther down the pathway of developing Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and having made open threats, causes one to pause and question again. And that is not to ask the obvious question: Is the answer to stopping a proliferation of WMD to be found by unleashing the world’s largest arsenal of WMD?

It seems to me that those protesting are requesting that those involved expend much more energy exploring alternative solutions to this issue. Aware that half of Iraq’s population consists of children, many peace activists are aware that the major casualties of any war will be children.

Those who argue the case against war are not disloyal to our nation, nor of necessity supporting the regime of Saddam Hussein. Rather they are expressing a commitment to a higher ethic, which recognises and affirms the sanctity of all human life in light of the atrocity of war.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”

February 23, 2003
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