Wednesday, March 26
The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Baghdad has vowed that the city's churches will remain open to allow Christians and Muslims to take refuge there during the US-led war, according to a newspaper article published Tuesday in Switzerland. "This people (the Iraqis) has had to suffer awful things over the past two decades," Archbishop Jean Benjamin Steiman wrote in an article published in the mass-circulation Blick daily. "We will not leave them alone at this time," he wrote. "I will do what is needed to keep the (Catholic) churches of Baghdad open for both Christian and Muslim civilians to take refuge there during the war," he wrote.
He also said he would be staying in the city in case Christians there were attacked as a result of the war, but stressed that he saw no sign of that for the moment. "As Christians, we are in a minority, and we could be used as scapegoats for this war," he wrote. "Order still reigns for the moment, but there could be attacks on Christians. And that is why we will not leave," he wrote. "Whether we like it or not, the West is assimilated here to Christianity. We want to show that that is false, and that we Christians are not like Western politicians, who talk about war as if it was a simplei ssue." Only an estimated 800,000 of Iraq's total population of 25 million areC hristians, who are divided among several churches.
Before the war in Iraq started, teacher Gary Tankard let his students at Bergen Catholic High School know where he stood, wearing a button that read, ''War is not the answer.'' Several of his colleagues did the same. Although Pope John Paul II was preaching a similar message, school authorities objected and said the red, white and blue buttons had to go. The other teachers relented, but Tankard resigned. ''This was a matter of conscience,'' Tankard, 63, told The Record of Bergen County for Wednesday's editions.
I would be very interested if anyone runs across any current news related to these monasteries.
With American soldiers facing more danger than they have in years, the Army's chief chaplain is asking bishops and cardinals across the country to help fill a critical need for Roman Catholic chaplains.About 25 percent of the Army is composed of Roman Catholics, with only about 107 priests on active duty, Chaplain Maj. Gen.G aylord Gunhus said during a visit Monday with Chicago's Cardinal FrancisG eorge. "Some of the Roman Catholic soldiers are being deployed without the opportunity for confession or thes acrament [of communion]," Gunhus said.The Army is not the only military branch that doesn't have enough priests, but the need in the other branches is not as acute, in part because of the difference in the size of the forces and the hardship of the service, officials with the Army and Navy said."We're kind of holding our own. ... They are really, really hurting," said Rev. Michael Dory, a chaplain commander assigned to the Marines. All sea services, including the Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine, draw chaplains from one pool. Roman Catholics comprise 28 percent of thoses ervices, and there are 170 priests to serve them, Dory said.
On the one hand, stories of battlefield excitement could be illustrated as never before; on the other, televised images more often than not revealed that war was a terrifying, dangerous and often psychologically shattering experience. The power of the camera made most modern military commanders shun war correspondents even more assiduously than had General Sherman, and not simply to conceal their own sins: Three centuries of hard experience taught that a little information carefully distributed could encourage public support for an army, while too much information liberally distributed-remember Vietnam-could help frustrate a nation's (or at least a Presidential administration's) interests. The relationship between television and the military became singularly ambiguous-an unresolved situation seemingly beyond resolution. But for their new war in Iraq, Mr. Bush and his advisers jettisoned all the old qualms about allowing cameras to show too much. Convinced of the absolute moral rectitude of his struggle against Saddam, Mr. Bush apparently believed that embedded correspondents would only add to the campaign's glory by allowing the public to see the two undertakings-military and journalistic-as one great and just national mission. Instead, before the first week was out, the administration's new media policy became the factor most likely to complicate, frustrate and perhaps endanger the success of a military campaign whose brilliance cannot disguise the fact that it is, after all, a military campaign, and as such loaded with death, bloodshed, blunders and acts of betrayal as well as bravery.
Like other nations, we prepare soldiers for weeks, months and sometimes years before they're exposed to the visual and emotional horrors of combat; evidently, we now expect untrained civilians to make instant sense of these sights and sounds, and to continue to support faithfully both their troops and their government, while at the same time tempering their desire for vengeance against a cruel enemy. This is an enormous amount to expect from anyone, let alone concerned families and mystified children-even when our nation's cause is just and our methods among the most ethically admirable ever displayed by any armed force.
Worse, the practice of embedding journalists provides our enemy with images that he can prostitute as he likes. Men such as those who currently control Iraq, along with other enemies elsewhere, are unlikely to let the opportunity pass. Already they have made the most, for example, of the sight of a careless Marine hoisting an American flag over Iraqi territory-an image that cannot be erased from the minds of even friendly Muslims. How much greater, then, will the effect of such an image be on a mind already filled with hate? And when an unbalanced member of the 101st Airborne Division attempts to kill his superior officers, what does it matter how we explain his motives? Whatever we say, the pendulum of psychological advantage swings back in favor of our enemy.
Pope John Paul on Wednesday made a fresh appeal for peace in Iraq and said his heart was "oppressed" by the news of battles. Speaking to thousands of pilgrims and tourists in St Peter's Square, the pope asked Catholics around the world to continue praying for peace. The 82-year-old pope, who headed the Vatican's diplomatic campaign to avert war, said that when he prayed he did so "with a heart that is oppressed by news that reaches us from an Iraq in war." The pope, who appeared in relatively good health, said the world should not forget the other conflicts "that are bloodying the Earth." He prayed that the Madonna "obtain justice and peace for the whole world."
Geez. What a crazy old peacenik. He really should stick to topics he knows something about,don't you think?
....Chatterbox guesses that Powell told the Turks some sort of Turkish presence might be all right if the troops were under U.S. command, but that he'd rather they stay out altogether. President Bush has been firmer in stating that "we're making it very clear to the Turks that we expect them not to come into Northern Iraq." But even Bush's statement allowed for a possible Turkish invasion later on ("we're working with the Kurds to make sure there's not an incident that would cause there to be an excuse [for the Turks] to go into Northern Iraq"). And Bush has yet to utter in this context his favorite I-ain't-foolin' word, "consequences." Bush's new proposed war budget, out of hiding now that his massive tax cut has cleared the House and Senate, includes a $1 billion grant to Turkey and allows for an additional $8.5 billion in loans and loan guarantees. That'll show 'em!
Bush could use a lesson in toughness from weak-kneed "Old Europe." The Germans told Turkey that Turkish entry into northern Iraq "would lead to the withdrawal of the German soldiers from NATO AWACS aircraft." And plucky little Belgium said, "It is unthinkable Turkey should join [the European Union] if it goes into Kurdistan," though the Turkish daily Zaman reports that the Belgians backed off somewhat today.
The planners of this war considered a range of scenarios. At the most optimistic, they hoped that the imminent threat of invasion would trigger the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime. At the next rosiest level, they thought a regime collapse would follow an invasion in a matter of days. On the next rung was the idea that the American advance would be met by little armed resistance, which would allow for a swift advance and a possibly hard but brief battle with the Republican Guard's Medina Division south of Baghdad.
What actually happened in the first five days was a surprise and made the American advance significantly more difficult and dangerous. In large terms the plan has worked and the attack to date is an overwhelming success. The 3rd Infantry, which leads the assault, advanced more than 185 miles into Iraq in three days. It defeated the Iraqi 11th Division in one day with no American casualties. It established a supply line over forbidding terrain back into Kuwait that is supplying a fast-moving force of more than 20,000 soldiers and 10,000 vehicles.
But something else transpired. While Hussein's regular army has scarcely fought at all, an irregular force controlled by the Baath Party of militia, elements of special units and Fedayeen guerrilla fighters has conducted a campaign of small-arms hit-and-run warfare. These forces have essentially taken control of the southern cities of Samawah and Najaf, where they have established themselves in schools and hospitals and where they are reportedly forcing local men to arm and fight by executing the unwilling.
To Mohammed, the relentless sandstorm was foreboding, a portent of divine will.
"The storm is from God," he said, looking out his trembling window. "Until the aggression started, never in my life did I see a storm like this. We all believe in God, we all have faith in God. And God is setting obstacles against the Americans."
During six days of war, Baghdadis looking to the heavens for omens have had much to contemplate. A terrifying cascade of U.S. bombs has been followed by the apocalyptic smoke of oil fires lit by Iraqi forces, so dense that cars almost collided. The smoke was joined by today's storm, which abruptly ended Baghdad's struggle to reclaim ordinary life. Shops again were shuttered and streets were deserted as a sickly yellow cloaked the sun.
Weary residents spoke of divine intervention, and in the storm they saw God's determination to aid Iraq. But beneath the surface were churning impulses -- of fear and flight, of fatalism and bravado, of grief and dread. With few exceptions, Iraqis still consider political discussions taboo, especially with a foreign journalist shadowed by an official escort. But the storm seemed to draw out anxieties about a future that no one seems willing to predict.
Michael comments on this here, and has an excellent, wise passage from the Bruderhof community posted as well.
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- Josh Marshall has interesteing stuff today.
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- Don't forget the BBC Reporters' Log
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- From MEMRI:Iran's complex views about the war
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