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


Whatever the UN weapons inspectors found in Iraq, and whatever the UN resolved, the United States was always going to wage war against Iraq, and the purpose was always to replace Saddam Hussein as Iraqi leader.  That was what high-ranking American official Richard Perle told an astonished group of MPs before Christmas, and it is borne out by all the events.  As it happens, Dr Blix has found nothing of any significance, and neither has any link between Saddam and international terrorism been disclosed. 

Britain's proposed new UN resolution, if passed, would have been a calculated humiliation for Saddam in which he would have been damned if he did and damned if he didn't.  One of the 'conditions' required him to go on television and admit he had banned weapons.  The French and the Russians would never have allowed such a motion to be passed.  But then a joke doing the rounds in France has a Pentagon official being asked how they know Saddam has such weapons.  "We still have the receipts" he replies, referring to the way in which America and Britain armed Saddam when he was in favour.

The American establishment's enthusiasm for a change of leadership in Iraq by military means appears more and more to do the oil reserves therein.  If we are right, then the blood of our servicemen (and women) and that of innocent Iraqis will be spilled to satisfy big money interests.  That is not to be 'anti-American.'  American people are our friends, and many of them are our cousins.  It might be a very good thing for the British people if American big business were to operate Iraq's oil, but it would be refreshing if Mr Blair and President Bush were to say that, and to stop pretending that the reason for war is that Saddam's Iraq is a threat to world peace or our security, in the way North Korea is, for example.

If human rights is the issue, then Her Majesty's Government is partial in the extreme.  Why are they not seeking UN resolutions condemning abuses and threatening force against China, Zimbabwe and Saudi Arabia?   And what about the Sudan, where the Christians in the south are systematically persecuted by their government, controlled by the powerful Muslims in the north?

It is perfectly true that the opposition of Russia's and France's leaders to an American-led war in Iraq is not altruistic or based on high moral purpose either, it is because they believe that their valuable trading links as Iraq's refinery partners and armaments suppliers is threatened. 

That leads to the horse-trading that has so exposed 'international relations' to ridicule in recent days.  The sight of American, British, Russian and French diplomats scurrying around the African nations represented on the UN Security Council, trying to out-do each other with 'aid packages' has shown up the United Nations for the corrupt organisation it was always destined to be. 

Matters are obviously not decided on principle in international relations; they are decided on whoever can buy the most votes.  As the article below excerpted from researcher Steve Ransom's book shows, 'summit' conferences are not the high-minded occasions we should like to imagine.  Whenever statesmen from different countries meet, it is not to argue fine points of international law, it is to explore what sectional deals can be done, how they can benefit those who fund them at home and to find out just how much each can get away with.

The Turkish leadership was persuaded - or bullied, depending on your point of view - to allow American forces to be based on Turkish soil only after a massive bribe of $25 billion was negotiated from the USA.  The Turkish parliament even voted in favour of the deal, but not by a sufficiently large majority to allow the deal to go ahead, and all this despite a massive 94% of the Turkish people being opposed.

The latest Anglo-American idea to persuade more Arab nations to acquiesce as Iraq is annexed to America is to promote a Palestinian state.  It is so hard not to be cynical as these entirely predictable events unfold.  The 'Roadmap' has been doing the diplomatic rounds for some time, but its publication now, just like Jack Straw's publication of Iraqi abuses of human rights before Christmas, is just part of the game.

In prayer terms, what can we do?  Britain will probably be at war by the time this newsletter goes to press.  Iraq is so vastly out-gunned that war could be over in days, with pictures of happy Iraqis celebrating the downfall of their erstwhile dictator all over our television screens.  At the same time, whether the war goes well or badly for Mr Blair and President Bush is entirely in the hands of God. 

In practical terms, it seems that the Angle-American alliance is prepared to use depleted uranium weapons of mass destruction against the Iraqis.  These weapons have been blamed for deformities in Iraq already, after the Gulf War, but Pentagon officials naturally deny any link.  Cluster bombs will also be used.  These are large bombs containing many small ones.  In the past unexploded 'bomblets' have lain around afterwards waiting for children to pick them up and be maimed.  If our forces are going to fight an unjust war at all, they could at least use ethical weapons.

WRITE: To your MP.  Express opposition to the war if it is in your heart to do so.  You could ask what is the real purpose of the war.  Protest against the use of unethical weapons of mass destruction, such as depleted uranium and cluster bombs.  Ask what deals HMG did with the Spanish Government to secure their support, over fishing and Gibraltar, for example.

PRAY: That our forces will be kept safe from harm, and that Almighty God will deliver the outcome he wills.  May He bring good out of the bad and visit judgment on the wicked.