The Shofar is the ancient trumpet which called the people of God to prayer, repentance, sacrifice and war.


Overwhelming force defeated the Iraqi army quickly, as predicted in Christian Voice.  We must give thanks to Almighty God that the 'coalition' loss of life was no greater.  The Iraqi people have been celebrating the downfall of the murderous and greedy Saddam Hussein.  There can be no doubt that God used our nation to judge Saddam. So what accounts for the uncomfortable feelings which so many Christians still have about the conduct of the war?

At the top is probably the failure to date to discover any of the alleged weapons of mass destruction which were the stated reason for the war.  If they are eventually found of course, they still give no cause for a just war.  Iraq was a sovereign state, and entitled to defend itself, just as Israel would have been if attacked by Iraq.  But that is now by the way. 

Next, there is distress that so many British casualties came about as the result of accidents or 'friendly fire'; the death toll speaks of bad planning and indiscipline.  The Americans then made much of their mission to rescue Private Jessica Lynch, but what was a woman doing in the front line in any case?  They would never have expended so much effort and used so many resources to free a man. 

The entire mission was driven by the fear that Miss Lynch could be raped and the bad publicity that would bring.  So lives were needlessly put at risk, exposing how much of a liability are women at the front.  To heap hubris on shame, there is now a film planned.  The British Army, too, has emasculated itself; there are even girls serving in the Pioneer Corps, a rough-and-ready outfit used to privation and living in each other's pockets.  The ancients would have been appalled that we have such contempt for the God-given roles of man and woman. 

Linked to that Godlessness is the complete disregard for the lives of Iraqi soldiers in what turned out to be a 'turkey shoot'.  We used to believe in fair play and have respect for the enemy.  Who can forget the column of Iraq armour which headed south out of Basra?  Our forces bombed it out of existence, when bombing the road ahead would surely have stopped it in its tracks and forced a surrender.  The enemy was supposed to be Saddam and his regime, not conscript Iraqis.  Thousands of Iraqi soldiers have been killed, and coalition commanders are proud of it.  As the resistance of the Iraqi army collapsed, like the Taliban in Afghanistan, the American/British coalition seemed like the beast of Revelation, about whom they say, "Who is able to make war with him?" (Rev 13:4). That is an uncomfortable thought.

Of course the civilian casualties - possibly around a thousand dead and many more injured - are the most heartbreaking.  The world has been touched by little Ali in hospital in Kuwait.  Our pro-war newspapers raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to fund his treatment, seemingly oblivious to the fact that if it had not been for careless and indiscriminate coalition bombing, he would still have his arms, his parents and his family.  It is just not good enough for Mr Jack Straw MP to point to the cruelties of Saddam as justification for such obscenity.  Saddam can only take the blame for his own crimes.  What our side did was our responsibility alone.

Was destroying so much of the infrastructure of Iraq actually necessary, to the point when the hospitals in Baghdad could hardly cope with the casualties coming in?  Why did Baghdad have to endure night after night of bombing when the 'surgical strikes' were meant to do the job in the first week?  What was the point of destroying Iraqi electricity and water supplies when our troops had nothing to put in their place?

That point leads to the lawlessness which followed the victory of arms.  The British and American armies thought of themselves as liberators, but as the Red Cross pointed out, they were and are technically an army of occupation.  As such, they are responsible to maintain supplies of water, power, food and medicines and also to keep law and order.  It was a massive miscalculation to leave the Iraqi people 'free' to engage in a lawless orgy of looting.  Again, for the Sunday Telegraph to complain that the real 'looters' of Iraq were Saddam and his family was facile, tit-for-tat stuff better suited to the playground.  That was Saddam, this is us.  Are we to be judged by his standards? 

The truth is we did not enter the Iraqi cities with either a plan or enough men to keep order, nor did we have the stomach to be seen to boss people about even to save life and protect property.  The result is that British and American soldiers stood by while ordinary honest shopkeepers saw their livelihoods destroyed, orphanages were wrecked and hospitals ransacked.  Anthropological study of the pagan civilisation of Babylon has virtually come to a halt with the stripping of the museums.  Meanwhile, the American Marine Corps found enough troops to put a ring of steel around the Iraqi Oil Ministry and the first oil-well is now back on line.

An older, Godlier age at least tried to live up to its responsibilities.  It was honest about its reasons for expansion of empire, but, especially from Britain, men went out determined to make use of such a golden opportunity to spread the Gospel.  Their selfless determination and their success in Africa bears the fruit today of missionaries form Nigeria coming back to the United Kingdom. 

The Gospel today, even from President Bush, is not that of Jesus Christ, but that of 'Democracy'.  Will Iraq turn into a 'modern' democracy where the old tribal rivalries are subsumed for the good of all?  Or will ancient scores be settled and factions squabble over what is left?  And what if 'Democracy' produces a fanatical Muslim cleric as the new leader of Iraq?  What prospect then for the 2 million Iraqi Christians?  And as Steve Mosher writes below, family planners and 'gender advisors' are now trying to introduce abortion, feminism and artificial contraception into Iraq.

PRAY: Thank God for the sacrifice of our soldiers, sailors and airmen, who were willing to lay down their lives for their country, and thank God the casualties were no higher.  Pray that something good comes out of the conflict, pray that the Gospel is advanced, and pray for the Iraqi Christian church.  Pray that the population control industry gain not so much as a foothold in Iraq.  Pray for repentance for our nation for our willingness to send women into danger, our disregard for Iraqi life and property, our refusal to face up to our responsibilities.