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

June/July 2003: CHAOS IN IRAQ

Iraq was in the news last week for three reasons, none of which bring much credit to the United Kingdom. 

The tragic loss of life of six military policemen seems to have been caused by an earlier heavy-handed incursion of British paratroopers breaking an agreement with local residents not to search Iraqi homes for weapons.  It must come as an affront to our troops that civilians in Iraq are accustomed to holding firearms in their homes for self-defence.  Their lack of awareness of the offence caused to Iraqis by foreigners barging into their homes, seeing their women-folk unveiled, bringing with them dogs seen by Muslims as unclean, highlights a lack of local knowledge that would have been lamentable even without the consequent loss of life.  That the MP's were left to their fate sits uncomfortably easily with the growing sense in Britain that duty and looking after each other are virtues which are fading fast. Mr Alistair Campbell may be off the hook, but it is still obvious that the Government used every trick in the book, including economy with the truth, to persuade the public and the House of Commons that invasion of a foreign state was justified.  Unfortunately for the government, the lack of discovery of 'weapons of mass destruction' is making the whole incursion look even more opportunistic than it was.

Alongside all that, the riot in Wrexham over preferential treatment of Iraqi Kurds begs a question which needs an answer:  "If the Kurds were genuine patriotic refugees who fled for their lives from Saddam's evil regime, and Saddam's regime is now defeated, why are they not aching to go back and join the reconstruction process?"  Or to put it another way, "Why is our government not sending them back?"  A slogan on a church notice board recently claimed: "Asylum seekers are people like us who cannot go home."  Maybe, uncomfortable as it is, some of them are people who just will not go home.

Christian Voice opposed the Iraq incursion not because it was illegal under international law, but because it failed to meet the Christian criteria for a just war.  We were under no threat, there was no link from Saddam to Al-Qaeda, and British people were no at risk in the country.  It was either a military commander or a politician who said that the six Redcaps 'gave their lives for their country,' but that seems less than a clear analysis.  One day we may see clearer what those six brave men gave their lives for, and it may turn out to be the Iraqi reserves of oil.

It remains that the break-down of services, sanitation and law and order which followed the war was entirely the fault of the British-American coalition.  Our troops had no plan to deal with the chaos which would ensue, and we now have no way of getting out.  Hard as it sounds, and easy as it is to argue to 'bring our boys (and embarrassingly, our girls) home,' The United Kingdom is lumbered with the situation, and will have to put right what has been done wrong.  There may well be more loss of life, and it is difficult to pray into the situation with the mind of God, who seems intent on humbling the politicians who sent our troops where they had no legitimate right or purpose to go.