An Open Letter To Presidents Bill Clinton and Saddam Hussein

by J. Daryl Byler

Novemeber 22, 1997

WASHINGTON -- Here we go again. It's deja vu in the Persian Gulf. Warships steam into place. Troops are placed on high alert. The rhetoric ratchets up. Enemies are defined. Fears are fed. Even the welcomed diplomatic olive branches are laced with threats and words of war.

What are you teaching our children about the proper role of government? Are neither of you concerned about violating the God- ordained purpose for governing authorities?

Instead of preserving order (Romans 13:1-7), your policies seem to promote disorder.

Instead of sustaining life (Genesis 41:46-57), your policies seem to be snuffing out life.

Instead of protecting the most vulnerable people (Matthew 25:31-46), you seem ready to expend them to achieve your political objectives.

What God has intended as an instrument for good, you are turning into an implement of greed.

President Clinton, before you bomb Baghdad, please reflect on the moral inconsistencies in the U.S. Gulf policy:

* Is it really more important to protect American oil interests than to protect the interests of inno Iraqi children? According to UNICEF reports, more than 100 Iraqi children continue to die daily from hunger and diseases spawned by seven years' worth of suffocating economic sanctions -- sanctions strongly supported by the United States.

* You call on Iraq to cooperate with the United Nations, yet the United States refuses to pay its U.N. dues. And when it is convenient, the United States seems quite ready to act alone in the international community to impose its will on others.

* You have rightly called for President Hussein to relinquish weapons of mass destruction. How then can you refuse to sign a treaty in Ottawa to ban the mass destruction caused by anti-personnel land mines?

And President Hussein, before you sacrifice more Iraqi people on the altar of your ambitions, please take inventory:

* How can you build spacious palaces even while you allow little children to starve?

* On what authority do you act so aggressively toward neighboring countries? And why do you continue to make blustering threats?

* How do you justify your apparent obsession with weapons of mass destruction even while most nations have signed a Chemical Weapons Convention?

As political leaders, you are certainly students of history. Have you learned nothing from 1991? What good came out of the massive military maneuvers then? Thousands were killed. Children and the elderly continue to die. Relationships in the Gulf are more strained than ever. Violence di not make the Gulf more secure back then and it will not, indeed cannot, now.

What might happen if you chose to talk face-to-face instead of lobbing rhetorical missiles through the media? What might happen if you chose to think more about saving children than about saving face? What might happen if you chose to rule out military options and, instead, began to consider ways of working cooperatively to create security for all people in the Gulf region?

Certainly, the God to whom you are both accountable would be pleased. And perhaps then our children would catch a glimpse of the positive role government can play in our fragile world.

I implore you to think about these things -- before you bomb Baghdad, President Clinton ... before you sacrifice more Iraqi people, President Hussein.

-30- J. Daryl Byler directs the MCC U.S. Washington Office. esw21november1997


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