Will Someone Please Remind Me Why We Went To War?

Pray for the people of Baghdad

I still regularly wake up thinking about the war with Iraq and feeling sick in my stomach.

It’s been a new experience for me and for all of us in Australia. Never before have we launched an attack on a nation that hasn’t declared war on us first. Never before has an Australian Prime Minister committed the country to a course of action so diametrically opposed to the will of the majority. Never before have I had to live with the feeling of having blood on my hands. I find all of this quite hard to live with.

Personally I don’t know what has been more sickening – the way in which the politicians have tried to sell the war, or the way in which the media have packaged it. In both cases they seem to be taking us for fools. Wasn’t it an American president who said ‘you can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t make fools of all of us forever’(something like that)? Surely these tactics must eventually backfire.

I’ll restrain myself from carrying on with a general rant here, as such rants on the war are a dime a dozen at the moment. I will though make one specific observation that arises out of my friendship with Morde Vanunu.

Morde, as you’ll remember, has been imprisoned in Israel since September 1986 when he spilled the beans on Israel’s nuclear armament stockpile. Morde spent the first eleven and a half years of his eighteen-year sentence in solitary confinement, all because he made public something that should never have been kept secret – Israel’s massive stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.

Morde was due for parole this year, but amazingly enough this seems to have been completely overlooked by the authorities. The reasoning behind this apparent glitch in the judicial process is obvious enough. It is a very inexpedient time to be drawing attention to the fact that Israel has more weapons of mass destruction than all the rest of the Middle East put together.

This is where the moralistic rhetoric of the pro-war politicians really sticks in my gullet. Those who have been preaching so passionately about the need to rid the Middle East of these abominable weapons are fully aware of what is going on in neighbouring Israel and are happily turning a blind eye to it. It does fill me with shame to have been part of the team that waged war on the basis of this sort of hypocrisy.

So where do we go from here? This is the question we are all facing now. Personally I cannot see any way forward. As far as forming a new Iraq goes, it seems to me that the Americans have two choices. Either they install a pro-American puppet or they allow the people of Iraq to install a leader of their own choice. If they sincerely do the latter they will surely get another Islamic fundamentalist anti-American government. If they install a puppet, the people of Iraq will hate the new government and anti-American sentiment will continue to grow and fester throughout the Muslim world. It appears to be a no-win situation. Am I missing something?

Rev. David B. Smith

Parish priest, community worker,
martial arts master, pro boxer,
author, father of four.


About Father Dave

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four
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