Action Alert
Catholic Relief Services
The Use of Force Against Iraq 

ACTION REQUESTED: Urge the President (202-456-1414) and your members of Congress (202-224-3121) to step back from the brink of war and to work with other nations and the UN to pursue actively effective alternatives to war to address Iraq's threats.

THE ISSUE:  Both the Senate and the House of Representatives are expected to debate resolutions authorizing the use of military force against Iraq as early as the week of September 30.  President Bush sent Congress an expansively worded draft resolution that would authorize him to use all means that he determines to be appropriate, including force, in order to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolutions, defend the national security interests of the United States against the threat posed by Iraq, and restore international peace and security in the region.  House and Senate leadership are currently negotiating with the Administration to develop compromise language that would authorize the use of force against Iraq.  Negotiations could be completed in days and debate could then begin. 

USCCB RESPONSE:   In a September 13th letter ( to President Bush, Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said: “We conclude, based on the facts that are known to us, that a preemptive, unilateral use of force [to overthrow the government of Iraq] is difficult to justify at this time.”  Bishop Gregory welcomed, however, the President's efforts to focus the world's attention on the need to address Iraq's repression and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction in defiance of the United Nations.

RATIONALE:   The United States and the international community have two grave moral obligations: to protect the common good against Iraqi threats to peace and to do so in a way that conforms to traditional moral norms. The USCCB fears that resort to force, under these circumstances, would not meet the strict conditions necessary to override the strong presumption against the use of military force.

THE IRAQI THREAT: One should have no illusions about the behavior or intentions of the Iraqi government.  The international community must mobilize to ensure that the Iraqi leadership ceases its internal repression, ends its threats to its neighbors, stops any support for terrorism, abandons its efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, and complies with UN resolutions.  


ALTERNATIVES TO WAR:  There are no easy answers to the threat posed by the Iraqi government, but we must pursue actively alternatives to war, including:    

Ø      Continued diplomatic efforts aimed, in part, at resuming rigorous, meaningful inspections;

Ø      Effective enforcement of the military embargo, and other legitimate ways to contain and deter aggressive Iraqi actions;

Ø      Maintenance of political sanctions and much more carefully-focused economic sanctions which do not threaten the lives of innocent Iraqis;

Ø      Non-military support for Iraqis who offer democratic alternatives. 

ACTION REQUESTED:  Urge the President (202-456-1414) and your Members of Congress (Capitol switchboard – 202-224-3121) to step back from the brink of war and to work with other nations and the UN to pursue actively effective alternatives to war to address Iraq’s threats.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:  Gerard Powers, USCCB, 202-541-3160 (ph); 541-3339 (f) ; Kathy Brown Catholic Relief Services, 800-235-2772, ext. 7232,