New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Password:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:
 
 
Comment >

Slipping further into chaos

ONCE AGAIN the taking of hostages has dominated the headlines. Three weeks ago it was schoolchildren in Beslan; this week the fate of a Briton and two Americans in Iraq has shown us the brutality that fanatics will employ to terrorise others. In the past, hostages were generally used as bargaining chips, often to secure the release of imprisoned members of the hostage-takers’ faction. This week, though, there appeared to be little effort at serious negotiation.

The murderer of Eugene Armstrong announced on video: “Cutting the heads off the criminal infidels is implementing the orders of our Lord.” Violent anti-Americanism combined with Islamic extremism has produced an enemy who will not be reasoned with.

It is no wonder that Tony Blair spoke at the weekend of a new Iraqi conflict. The capture of the three Westerners was yet another proof of how dangerous Iraq has become. This also came out in a speech by Senator John Kerry at New York University on Monday. His political motives for switching the spotlight on Iraq have been called into question, but not the facts that he placed before his audience. “In March, insurgents attacked our forces 700 times.

In August, they attacked 2700 times — a 400 per cent increase.” Also in August, 66 Americans were killed and more than 1100 were wounded, more than in any month since the invasion last year. Mr Kerry’s point was that the United States under George Bush had squandered all the good will it had after the 9/11 attacks, and that, in Iraq, “We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.”

Confused motives, imperfect alliances, heavy military casualties — it is possible to argue that none of these reflect badly on the United States. Wars of liberation can be messy affairs. In the Balkans and Afghanistan, the Western coalition was criticised for its use of high-altitude bombing, and for not being close enough to the ground in the restoration process.

All that matters in Iraq, it can be argued, is that a nation that was suffering under a brutal dictator is now free. What is missing from the present debate about Iraq’s future, however, is the authentic voice of the Iraqi people.

There was a striking omission, too, from Senator Kelly’s speech. He mentioned that poor living conditions persist, but there was not a single reference to Iraqi casualties, either at the hands of the American or the so-called insurgents.

Instead, he adopted President Bush’s rhetoric about power: “America must be strong. And America must be smart.” The West is being drawn into a power-struggle with Middle Eastern extremists, and the people on whose behalf we are supposedly acting are being caught in the cross-fire.

Job of the week

Priest

North West

Central Calder Mission Community Carlisle Diocese Full-Time Post Crosslacon: Cleator, Cleator Moor, Frizington and Arlecdon Central Calder Mission Community Do you care about those on the edg...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

Exporting the Brompton Way

Exporting the Brompton Way

An HTB church-plant is now widely expected when a well-situated urban church’s numbers are low. Madeleine Davies investigates the phenomenon  Read More

Top comment

The unexpected value of colouring a pirate face

Ministry is about much more than time-sheets, says Claire Jones  Read More

Thu 27 Apr 17 @ 10:59
Security in churches tightened as ‘resilient’ Copts hold Easter services https://t.co/43ldEt4CVl

Thu 27 Apr 17 @ 10:58
RT @huwbbc@ChurchTimes It will be interesting to see the reaction. Jeffrey John, extremely able (and a Welsh speaker, after a… https://t.co/gCW9tkpBfR