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by Allen Morris

Commentary: We are starting to see it in our United Methodist Church and to hear criticism of President Bush for taking deliberate action against Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Comments such as, "George Bush wants to go to war" and 'We are rushing into this" and "Bush has not given any justification for going 10 war" are being heard.

May I offer the observation that this appears to reject a publicity initiative by those who would forestall our taking meaningful action against what is potentially a serious threat? In answer to these and other criticisms against possible military action against this country, may I offer one initial answer? "September 11" There is little doubt that Hussein was involved in this attack against our country, and is only the latest in a series of actions that indicate that he poses a threat to world peace and the stability of the United States that has no precedent in history.

For those who remember the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, did you hear many objections against our going to war with Japan? I doubt that there were. In my reading of history, there were some by leaders of the Methodist Church at that time who objected to our country's going to war. In retrospect, we know that to have appeased Japan and Germany would have spelled the doom of England and probably our country as we know it. Appeasement never works. Neville Chamberlain had tried to appease Adolf Hitler with a series of inactions and concessions in the 1930s: Germany's reoccupation of the Rhineland; the Danzig Corridor; splitting off of the Czech Republic from Slovakia and the resulting annexation; and finally the invasion of Poland. In each of these actions, if the Allies (England and France) had fought, there would have been a price to pay, but not nearly as great as that of the subsequent war. There would have been possibly 300 - 1000 casualties in fighting over the Rhineland occupation, and 1,000,000 million (most of the casualties being German soldiers) over the annexation of a strategic part of the former Czechoslovakia. The fight would have resulted in Germany's defeat and the toppling of Hitler from power. In the latter situation, Chamberlain had returned to citizens England from Munich after his infamous meeting with Hitler proclaiming he had achieved "peace in our time" - but had negotiated away the freedom of Czechoslovakia without its being consulted. Less than eighteen months later, England was in a fight for its very survival.

As tragic as December 7th was, September 11th was worse. At Pearl Harbor military facilities and personnel were targeted; we understand that giving one's life in defense of one's country may be called for when wearing the uniform. On September 11 primarily civilian facilities and personnel were targeted, with the sole exception being the Pentagon. May I say again that on that latter day, innocent men, women, and children were the victims? In addition, this was perpetrated on the mainland of America. Other attacks had been planned but were foiled by the immediate grounding of all aircraft and by alert governmental security personnel.

We know that Hussein is willing and capable of using his chemical and biological weapons; he has used them on his own people, fellow Muslims like himself. Why should he hesitate to use it on us, not only Christians but also the country who defeated him in warfare eleven years earlier? He wouldn't? We must not kid ourselves.

I speak not only from having studied, lived, and worked in international relations for over forty years, but also from having experience in the Iraqi theater of operations itself. I am a retired Army officer (and served in both enlisted and officer ranks, and in elite airborne units), having been involved in military actions from Vietnam through Operation Desert Storm (in addition to others). I can say with no hesitation that those of us who were on the ground in Southwest Asia knew of Hussein's capabilities and ruthlessness. During the military action, those of us on the ground fully expected to completely resolve the problem by dealing with Hussein. When we were told "cease fire in six hours" some of us were incredulous; we knew that if we did not deal with the Iraqi problem we would face it - and worse - later. These fears have proven correct.

May I ask each of you to fully support President Bush in whatever action he decides to take? Our denominational employees do not have a good record of credibility when it comes to dealing with international relations; they are not trained in that area. In actuality, they cannot even resolve leadership problems in our own denomination [witness the numerical decline for the past 34 consecutive years, and their inability to discipline Bishop Joe Sprague when he denies essential beliefs of our faith); how can they presume to advise the president on how to best run the country? In considering just the public information available, our leaders have not taken a credible stand; Saddam Hussein is judged as a potential threat for our future. Yet, President Bush has more information of a classified ("Secret" "Top Secret" etc.) nature that is not available to the general public and can provide a more detailed, accurate picture of the threat; we must understand and respect that reality.

I have more confidence in President Bush's decision-making capability in this area than I do in our denominational employees.

Finally, I would ask you to pray for President Bush - for protection against unwise influences, clearness of mind, and physical protection; and to pray a hedge of protection around all of our servicemen overseas.

Allen 0. Morris, Executive Director
Concerned Methodists
United States Army, Retired


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