Skip to comments.What the war revealed (the vatican and the Iraq war)
Posted on 10/04/2003 8:02:25 AM PDT by LadyDoc
October 1, 2003
What the War Revealed By David Quinn
In the run-up to the recent Gulf War, I received a letter from a reader of the Irish Catholic, for which I was at that point still editor, declaring that if I kept up my support for the United Statess position with regard to Iraq, I would find myself automatically excommunicated from the Church. I had previously heard of Catholics who supported the war being described as dissidents, but to say that such people could consider themselves excommunicated was to take things to a new level entirely. My readers reasoning was that because so many Vatican-based bishops and cardinalsas well as other prelates from around the worldhad come out against the war, their opposition amounted to a teaching of the Magisterium. To go against such a teaching was to take oneself automatically outside the Catholic Church.
My readers attitude, even if it was highly unusual, gives a pretty good idea of the depth of feeling against the war among many Catholics. On February 15, an estimated 100,000 people thronged Dublins city center to protest the war. Millions of others did so in other European cities. Many were practicing Catholics belonging to such groups as the Catholic Workers Movement. Priests and nuns also took part in the march. The Irish demonstration was addressed by Bishop John Kirby from the West Ireland diocese of Clonfert.
A noticeable feature of Catholic opposition to the war was that, outside America at least, it crossed the usual liberal/conservative divide. I had arguments with thoroughly orthodox pro-life priests who were bitterly opposed to the war and who even trotted out the linefamiliar in left-wing circlesabout America being the great despoiler of the world. In addition, and to the chagrin and embarrassment of pro-war Catholics, it seemed that those in opposition really could count the pope, and many other senior bishops as well, as being on their side.
Indeed, an honest observer would have to admit that it was very hard to distinguish between the popes position on Iraq and that of France. Neither absolutely opposed attacking Iraq under certain circumstances, and both believed the option of war might be considered once all other possibilities had been exhausted. Its just that neither the pope nor France thought that this point had been reached.
Doubtless some readers will balk at the idea of comparing the popes position with that of Jacques Chirac. Frances opposition to the war was based mostly on cynical opportunism, not on principle. Nonetheless, the declared positions of both France and the pope were more or less the same.
Even after hostilities officially ended, Vatican officials continued to make their feelings known about the war. Achille Cardinal Silvestrini, who advises the Vatican on international affairs, accused the United States of running the risk of falling into moral isolationism in its conduct of foreign policy. Then he attacked American hawk Richard Perle by name. Perle had said the UN should be replaced by a coalition of the willing as the new instrument of international problem-solving. Silvestrini responded, saying, These are far-fetched, if not infantile proposals. In Vaticanese, this was about as savage an attack as they come. The Vatican and its officials usually speak only in general principles. They almost never attack people by name, least of all in these terms. As much as anything, this gives a good indication of the depth of Vatican opposition to the war.
So, what explains the hostility?
Anti-Americanism Abounds First of all, a distinction needs to be made between those Catholics who were against this war because they thought it was imprudent and/or unjust and those who opposed it simply because they oppose anything America does. Into the first category falls the pope. Although there are aspects of American society that he would sharply criticize (as would most Catholics in the United States), nothing he has ever said could lead anyone reasonably to conclude that he dislikes America itself or what it stands for in the world.
Unfortunately many of those Catholics who opposed the warespecially in Europecannot be so exonerated. This Catholic anti-Americanism has a number of sources. Firstand certainly it is a big factor in my own countryis anti-imperialism. Because Ireland existed for centuries as a British colony, and for more than a century was absorbed altogether into a political union with Britain, theres a strong residue of anti-imperialism in Ireland. This makes Irish people identify with the underdog against whoever is the imperial power of the day. Since America is now identified by many as the great contemporary imperialist, theres an instinctive reaction against it when it appears to be acting in a heavy-handed way overseas.
This anti-imperialism also partly explains why opposition to the war crossed the left/right divide. Anti-imperialists are usually strongly nationalistic, and nationalists come in left- and right-wing varieties in my country.
In the rest of Europe, right-wing opposition was also nationalist in character, although of a different sort to Irish nationalism. In a country like France, the right is reflexively anti-American because it feels that the United States has usurped Frances rightful place in the world. (We should never underestimate the extent of hurt French pride and what France will do to remedy that hurt.)
The second source of anti-Americanism is, of course, leftist ideology. Not only is America the great imperialist, its also the capitalist Great Satan, the exploiter of the worlds poor, the destroyer of the environment, etc. Priests and religious appear even more likely than lay Catholics to have this ideological outlook. In Ireland, for example, large numbers of missionary priests and nuns were radicalized through time in Latin America. Indeed, many worked in that part of the world in the 1970s and 1980s when the Sandinistas were in power in Nicaragua and Marxist guerillas were threatening to take over El Salvador. This was the era of Ronald Reagan, the Contras, and right-wing death squads.
Priests and nuns who had lost sight of the old missionary imperative to save souls had turned their attention instead to the struggle for social justice (as they defined it). They were drawn to liberation theology, and they identified the United States as Public Enemy No. 1the main obstacle to the achievement of social justice in South America and elsewhere. This is one reason why so many priests and religious were to be found in antiwar (read anti-American) marches across Europe and the United States. After all, it wasnt only Irish priests and nuns who turned left in Latin Americaa lot of American priests and nuns did as well.
Of course others were radicalized even earlier, especially during the Vietnam War. (Think the Berrigan brothers.) Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, himself an opponent of that war, identified two different kinds of attitudes found among protestors. The first viewed America as a basically good country that had taken a wrong turn in Vietnam. The second, more radical view thought that the Vietnam War had revealed Americas true and evil nature once and for all. Too many clerics felland fallinto this second category.
In Ireland only one priest came out publicly in favor of the war, Rev. Seamus Murphy. Father Murphy is an Irish Jesuit whos very familiar with Catholic anti-Americanism; he has seen it up-close in his own order. A moral philosopher, he neatly inverted some of the arguments made against the war by clerics and did so by usingwait for itliberation theology.
In an article in the March 27 Irish Catholic, Father Murphy wrote that the main justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein was that it would end his reign of terror over his own people. Since liberation theology maintained the right of a people to overthrow a brutal oppressor, and since Iraqis had no hope of doing this unaided, they needed outside help:
To wonder whether there is sufficient justification for war is not unreasonable. But to claim, as have some senior clerics, that there is no justification at all is to close ones eyes to the historical record and ones ears to the victims. Liberation theology would say: God is with the victims, and failure to stand with them is a betrayal of the Gospel.
Father Murphys article met with a deafening silence.
Multilateralists in the Vatican If anti-Americanism was one source of Catholic opposition to the war, and doubts about its justness another, there was a third that was overlooked by most observers: Vatican foreign policy. In the diplomatic battle that has raged ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall between multilateralists and unilateralists, the Vatican has placed itself firmly on the side of the multilateralists.
The extent to which the Church has done this was well demonstrated by the popes latest annual message for World Peace Day. In his message, the pope commented on John XXIIIs encyclical Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth), which had been released 40 years before.
He noted that since then, the world has become more free, structures of dialogue and cooperation between nations have been strengthened, and the threat of a global nuclear warwhich weighed so heavily on Pope John XXIIIhas been effectively contained.
Then he turned his attention to the negative side of the ledger. There remains a serious disorder in world affairs, and we must face the question: What kind of order can replace this disorder so that men and women can live in freedom, justice, and security?
Part of the answer, he suggested, lay in nothing less than a new constitutional organization in the human family. The pope didnt explain what he meant by this seemingly radical proposal, but he made clear that he didnt have in mind some kind of global superstate. Rather, his constitutional organization would strengthen processes already in place to meet the almost universal demand for participatory ways of exercising political authority and for transparency and accountability at every level of public life. At face value, this call seems unobjectionable enough like the spread of democratic forms of governance throughout the world. This, of course, is exactly what the United States is working toward.
But the popes reference to an international political authority is telling.
He doesnt mention the UN by name here but does give his backing to efforts to tie nations into international treaties and obligations:
Political summits on the regional and international levels serve the cause of peace only if joint commitments are then honored by each party. Otherwise they risk becoming irrelevant and useless, with the result that people believe less and less in dialogue and trust more in the use of force as a way of resolving issues.
Frankly, its hard to see how the pope had any country other than the United States in mind here. The message was issued at a time when world affairs were completely dominated by the looming war in Iraq. Also, in 2001 America caused a storm of protest by withdrawing from the Kyoto Accord on the environment and further angered the international community by refusing to ratify the International Criminal Court (ICC). Is this what he had in mind when he insisted that countries honor their joint commitments? In fact, the upcoming World Peace Day message will drive home this point. It is about the need to uphold international law.
Placed in the context of this firm commitment to multilateralism with its tools of international treaties, summits, and organizations, its no wonder so many prominent Vatican figures opposed the attack on Iraq. Quite apart from the justness or otherwise of the war, it dealt a hammer-blow to the painstaking efforts of the UN and the European Union in particular to tie the nations of the world into a network of obligations that would fetter their ability to act unilaterally. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger confirmed the Churchs commitment to multilateralism by noting, Decisions like this [whether to go to war or not] should be made by the community of nations, by the UN, and not by an individual power.
Why this attitude? Surely it cannot be for moral reasons. Theres nothing in the doctrinal or moral teachings of the Church that requires faithful Catholics to sign up for the multilateralist agenda. Therefore, its reasons must be prudential. Evidently, the Vatican believes that it will better promote international peace and order if nations take actions that affect the world at large only after first seeking the permission of organizations like the UN.
The Substitute Church However, this judgment is based on the shakiest of premises. To begin with, why should we place such faith in the judgment of the UN? What exactly has it done to demonstrate that its judgment of what is best for the world ought to be heeded?
For some people, the UN acts as a sort of substitute, secular Church. Multilateralists also tend to be liberal and left-wing in their ideological orientation. They distrust the nation-state. They believe that universal human rightsas they define themare best guaranteed by supposedly impartial international bodies such as the UN and the ICC.
But what multilateralists never seem to appreciate fully is that many of the rights they consider universal in character are not, nor are some of them rights at all (the right to abortion, for example).
Secondly the UN is not impartial, and its highly doubtful the ICC will turn out to be so either. The UN is made up of nations that act according to what they judge to be in their national interest. None acts impartially, and many of the countries that make up the UN are not even accountable to their own citizens. Why should their judgment in anything be trusted?
Also, when people suggest that the approval of the international community must be sought for actions like the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, what they mean in practice is the approval of the UN Security Council. This in turn means the approval of those countries that wield a veto on the council, namely the United States, Britain, China, Russia, and France.
In the case of the Iraq war, this involved seeking the approval of the last three of the above five nations. China, Russia, and France all had their own decidedly self-serving reasons for vetoing the proposed Anglo-American action. Its hard to believe that anyone, least of all the Vatican, could seriously believe that America would ever let these three countries veto an action that it sincerely believed to be in its best interests. And, for that matter, would the Vatican ever let the international community veto its freedom of action? The Vatican has alwaysand rightlybeen extremely protective of its prerogatives.
In addition, what would the attitude of the Vatican be if the international community refused to sanction action in a situation where it was absolutely required? Suppose another Rwanda arose and the United States was willing to send in forces to prevent genocide. And suppose one or other of the permanent members of the UN Security Council decided to use its veto for reasons of its own. Should the United States in such an eventuality refrain from intervening? Should it stand back and let a slaughter ensue?
The Vatican seems to overlook the very real possibility that sometimes the international community might be unable to arrive at a consensus where one is manifestly called for, and that in other circumstances it might arrive at one thats simply immoral.
In such situations, its just as well that theres a country with the military power to take unilateral action in parts of the world and that this countrythe United Statesis a democracy. Surely the Vatican above all organizations must know that sometimes unilateral action is morally required and that its occasionally necessary to stand against the consensus. The attitude of the Vatican is doubly bewildering when one considers how often it has found itself at loggerheads with various UN agencies over issues like abortion.
Surely it would be more sensible for the Vatican to support neither multilateralism nor unilateralism as a matter of policy. Instead it should judge international situations on a case-by-case basis and support unilateral or multilateral actions when called for. In the case of the Iraq war, it would probably have been best for the Vatican to stay out of it and simply to limit itself to supporting a peaceful resolution of the crisis. Prudentially, such an approach would have been justifiable. (Can you imagine the effect on Muslim opinion if the pope endorsed what they saw as a Christian Crusade?)
But the Vatican went much further than this. Some officials said the war was unjust, and all called for America to work through the UN. This iron commitment to multilateralism is neither morally nor prudentially wise.
The Vatican should not place itself in the American camp. But why it has moved so completely into the UNs corner defies reason.
David Quinn is the religious and social affairs correspondent of the Irish Independent.
Copyright Crisis Magazine © 2001 Washington DC, USA
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That lack of acknowlegement is truly sad, as are recent reports that the Vatican wants to join the U.N.
My mom was born in Ireland, but she was an atypical conservative Republican from the minute her feet touched US soil. I miss her, but in a sense I'm glad she isn't around to see her beloved church, and Pope, on a such a downward spiral.
The article skates close to the obvious reason for it but doesn't take the last step. Yes the attitude of many toward multilaterialism is a sort of substitute church. Yes that church lacks any track record of moral wisdom or leadership to justify affording it authority in such matters. But the church wants the sentiments behind that attitude to exist. It wants them strengthened. It just also wants them directly toward itself, rather than toward the UN or the EU.
The Vatican is jealous of the respect and deferrence the left is according to the UN in such matters. It wants the same position of moral leadership of an ideological consensus it sees operating on the secular left. Instead of a stern lecture about misplacement of such loyalty where it is not deserved, it has said "me too" because it longs for the same respect towards itself.
Prudentially, some Vatican officials may think it better to foster such attitudes with the distance hope they can eventually be redirected toward the church. They do not want to undermine the principle behind the sentiment because they expect to need it themselves. Personally, I do not approve of this. I think it would be much clearer to side with the Iraqi oppressed and praise the US for defying public opinion in favor of obvious justice. But defying public opinion is not what they are about, just at present.
There have been times when the church has understood the need for that, morally, but this isn't one of them. It is not itself oppressed, and under this pope it is relatively popular or respected among outsiders, than in much of the recent past. It aspires to a position it sees others (the left) constructing out of their collective will. It is hardly surprising that it winds up flattering them, unduly, as a result.
Basically, these guys have the same financial ideal as the UN - let North Americans pay for everything while simultaneously blaming them for everything on earth.
I'm not holding my breath.
Lots of anti-Americanism in the Vatican, and there has been, for a very long time. In fact, "Americanism"--a desire to bring some of America's democratic principles into the Church--was decried as a heresy by Pius IX and Leo XIII in the last century.
Look at how slow to act the Vatican was in response to the child abuse crisis.
Lots of old men in red silk who don't like us. And, they can make it personal when they want to.
You're out of line. Why would I be smearing every Catholic when I am a Catholic and the Grandpa of little Catholics?
Why don't you address the gist of my post and comment on why the Vatican has remained silent on the mass graves in Iraq.
It's not a French institution either, but it's very hard to tell that it's not, these days.
OK, I'll assume you have no good answer.
And, yes, I have my opinions about the Vatican stance on the Iraq war, and they have nothing to do with the "just war" theory.
The Vatican takes shots at Western countries because it knows it can, with no repercussions.
It takes no such shots at Arab countries because rabid Muslims might take it out on Christians.
Nonetheless, the Pope might at least express gratitude that the Iraqi Christians are no longer living under the thumb of Hussein. Instead, silence.
I agree. It seems very bassackwards to me.
Never thought of myself, being on the brink of being booted from the Catholic Church because I support the war...
So, then can I attend this guy's church?? :)
While I have no interest in reviving last Spring's debates, I feel obliged to point out that "prudential judgment", while frequently interpreted as a license by those in search of one, is better understood as a solemn duty.
I have little love for the UN, and am willing to admit my wariness of the Holy See's frequently excessive readiness to endorse its legitimate interest in this or that affair. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that the Vatican was right to call for an authentically communal response to Saddam's lawlessness. Entirely apart from pragmatic considerations (which obtain nevertheless) the Vatican was quite right in opposing any appeal to a principal of unilateral right to wage war in the absence of a plausible and present threat.
The Holy See's preference that the matter be referred to the UN should not be seen as an endorsement of world government (ths Catechism's teaching on subsidiarity being quite clear in that respect) but as a useful check on popular passions and political the mischief-makers who manipulate them.
The Chaldean Church is out of the al-Tikriti frying pan and into the islamic fire. Their present situation, staring down the now-unrestrained islamic fundies as a religious and ethnic minority, is just one of the dire consequences that our genius planners in the DOD considered unworthy of their Olympian interest.
I guess that's worse than being put in a shredder by Saddam Hussein.
Are the islamic fundies killing Chaldean Christians? I hadn't heard that.
So, in your view, Hussein was just dandy, I suppose.
FEBRUARY 8, 1981 : (NIGER SHIPS YELLOWCAKE TO IRAQ) Niger ships yellowcake to Iraq in two batches. Batch one, which consists of 432 drums and 137,435kg of yellowcake, is received. Fourth Consolidated Report of the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency under paragraph 16 of Security Council resolution 1051 (1996), S/1997/779, 8 October 1997, pp. 25-26, ; Fact Sheet: Iraq's Nuclear Weapon Programme, IAEA Action Team, .
NOVEMBER 12, 1981 : (IRAQ WINS VOTE IN UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONDEMNING ISRAEL'S DESTRUCTION OF IRAQ'S OSIREK NUCLEAR REACTOR; IRAQI OFFICIAL WISSAM ZAHAWIE aka ZAHAWI IS QUOTED SAYING ISRAEL'S ACTIONS WERE ALSO AN ATTACK ON THE IAEA) But Zahawie won attention in the United Nations, and the IAEA, long before Saddam's invasion of Kuwait sparked conflict between Iraq and the United States. On November 12, 1981, in a surprise maneuver, Iraq won a vote in the General Assembly inserting an amendment condemning Israel's destruction of Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor into a routine declaration on the IAEA. The Associated Press quoted Zahawie as saying, "The Zionist act of aggression is also an attack against the IAEA."- "Iraqi Nuke Hawk Went to Niger," by Terence P. Jeffrey, Human Events , 8/1/03
1982 : (IRAQ GETS YELLOWCAKE FROM NIGER & PORTUGAL) Iraq obtains 426 drums containing 139,409kg of yellowcake from Niger and 487 drums containing 148,348kg yellowcake from Portugal. Fact Sheet: Iraq's Nuclear Weapon Programme, IAEA Action Team
MARCH 18, 1982 : (IRAQ GETS YELLOWCAKE FROM NIGER) Iraq receives is second shipment of yellowcake from Niger. It consists of 426 drums containing 139,409kg yellowcake. Fourth Consolidated Report of the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency under paragraph 16 of Security Council resolution 1051 (1996), S/1997/779, 8 October 1997, pp. 25-26.
1984 : (IRAQI OFFICIAL WISSAM ZAHAWIE aka ZAHAWI TRIES TO BLOCK ISRAELI PRESIDENT HERZOG FROM SPEAKING TO THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY) In 1984, he tried to block Israeli President Chaim Herzog from speaking to the General Assembly. "Wissam Zahawie of Iraq objected on the ground that, according to United Nations resolutions, Israel's claim that Jerusalem was its capital was 'null and void,'" reported The New York Times. - "Iraqi Nuke Hawk Went to Niger," by Terence P. Jeffrey, Human Events , 8/1/03
APRIL 24, 1995 : (IRAQI OFFICIAL WISSAM AL ZAHAWIE aka ZAHAWI ATTENDS UN CONFERENCE ON THE NONPROLIFERATION TREATY AND RAILS AGAINST ISRAEL) At a 1995 UN conference on extending the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Zahawie (sometimes spelled "Zahawi") argued that unless Israel was stripped of nuclear weapons, other states would need to engage in "a secret or public" arms race to "restore a certain balance."
In an official UN summary of the April 24, 1995, session of this conferenceprovided to me by the United Nations LibraryZahawie sometimes referred to Israel as the "entity." "In that entity," the summary cites him as saying, "there was a powerful opposition party which was expected to win the forthcoming elections and which was urging that not a single inch of the occupied territories should be surrendered, and was ready, in its fanaticism, to go to any lengths, whatever the cost. It was not hard to see what that party would do with its nuclear bomb."
"[B]y exempting one State [Israel] from applying the provisions of the Treaty while expecting others to respect it forever," the UN summary cites Zahawie as saying, "there would inevitably be attempts to restore a certain balance. That meant an arms race, whether secret or public."
"Efforts must therefore be made either to establish equity and equilibrium," the UN summary reports Zahawie as saying, "orpreferablyto attain the ultimate goal sought by all mankind, namely the complete and permanent elimination of the nuclear threat."
Citing what he characterized as belligerent statements by various U.S. leaders of the Cold War era, Zahawie argued that the U.S. refrained from using nuclear weapons only out of fear of Soviet retaliation.
"Apparently, the military and civilian leaders of the United States were very attached to the idea of atomic bombing designed to destroy a city or an entire country, since their experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki," the UN summary reports him saying. "If there had been any equilibrium at the beginning," it cites him as saying, "the world would not have experienced the atrocities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki." Zahawie's belligerence did not go unnoticed at the time. "Iraq's delegate at the conference, Wissam Al-Zahawi," reported Agence France Presse, "warned that if the international community allowed Israel to remain outside the NPT it would lead to 'inevitable attempts' to reestablish 'some kind of equilibrium' in the region, followed by a 'secret or open' arms race."- "Iraqi Nuke Hawk Went to Niger," by Terence P. Jeffrey, Human Events , 8/1/03
NOVEMBER 12, 1997 : (IRAQ'S AMBASSADOR TO THE VATICAN WISSAM AL ZAHAWIE aka ZAHAWI'S LETTER TO THE PRESS IS PUBLISHED, RAILS AGAINST ISRAEL AND US) In a letter published on Nov. 12, 1997, in the International Herald Tribune, Zahawie, identified as Iraq's ambassador to the Vatican, was more direct. "Iraq has shown that there are Arabs who refuse to bow to American bullying," he wrote. "It has challenged a Zionist-American diktat by trying to achieve the forbidden strategic balance that would enable Arabs to resist Israeli aggression."- "Iraqi Nuke Hawk Went to Niger," by Terence P. Jeffrey, Human Events , 8/1/03
EBRUARY 10, 1998 : (IRAQ'S AMBASSADOR TO THE VATICAN WISSAM AL ZAHAWIE aka ZAHAWI'S HAS ANOTHER LETTER PUBLISHED IN THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE ; THIS LETTER COMPAINS ABOUT COLUMNIST WILLIAM SAFIRE & THOMAS FRIEDMAN WHO ADVOCATE THAT HUSSEIN SHOULD BE DISARMED BY FORCE) In a letter published in the International Herald Tribune on Feb. 10, 1998, he objected to columns by William Safire and Thomas Friedman that advocated the use of force to disarm Saddam. "The present rabid braying and warmongering will surely serve to stiffen Iraqis' resolve, to increase their hatred of their American tormentors and to rally people around their president," he wrote.- "Iraqi Nuke Hawk Went to Niger," by Terence P. Jeffrey, Human Events , 8/1/03
JUNE 25, 1998 : (FATHER BENJAMIN'S DOCUMENTARY "IRAQ SOLIDARITY ACTION" WILL BE SCREENED TOMORROW; IRAQI AMBASSADOR TO THE VATICAN AL ZAHAWIE WILL ATTEND THE SCREENING) VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- A new 20-minute documentary film, produced in Iraq by Father Jean-Marie Benjamin, describes the damages brought upon that country's people by the 7-year-old embargo. The film will be screened for the press in Rome tomorrow. Father Benjamin and his film crew traveled extensively across Iraq-- visiting Mosul, Basra, Samra, Baghdad, and Babylon-- to gather footage for their documentary, which is entitled "Iraq solidarity action."
The film denounces the "atrocity of these inhuman sanctions which, each month, cause the death of more than 6,000 children," according to a press release from the producers. Father Benjamin, a French-born priest now serving in the Rome diocese, has previously overseen the production of films on Padre Pio and St. Francis of Assisi. He also accompanied the late Cardinal Agostino Casaroli on many of his diplomatic missions Send reply to: ADC Iraq Task Force email@example.com - "DOCUMENTARY FILM RIPS EMBARGO ON IRAQ," 25 June 1998, http://www.iacenter.org/film625.htm
JUNE 26, 1998 : (IRAQI ENVOY TO THE HOLY SEE, AL ZAHAWIE, ATTENDS SCREENING OF LEFTWING PRIEST BENJAMIN'S DOCUMENTARY; MEANWHILE, THE VATICAN'S ENVOY IN BAGHDAD, ARCHBISHOP LAZZAROTTO, ISSUES A STATEMENT TO BE PLAYED AT THE SCREENING CONDEMNING THE EMBARGO ON IRAQ; THE ARCHBISHOP ENCOURAGES CHRISTIANS TO BREAK THE INTERNATIONAL EMBARGO) VATICAN (CWNews.com - Catholic World News) -- The Vatican's envoy in Baghdad has once again lashed out against the international embargo on Iraq. In a video message, played at the screening of a new documentary on the effects of that embargo, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto called upon Christian to show their solidarity with the people of Iraq. The documentary film, "Iraq Solidarity Action," was produced by Father Jean-Marie Benjamin, a French-born priest serving the diocese of Rome. It was screened today in the presence of the Iraqi ambassador to the Holy See, Wissam Chawket al-Zahawie.
In his video message to the film audience, Archbishop Lazzarotto urged all Christians to "multiple their gestures of solidarity," in order to break through "the isolation created by the embargo." Those who travel to Iraq, he said, would find their a rich culture which deserves understanding and preservation.
The practical effects of the embargo, the papal nuncio continued, have not been changes in government policy, but rather the death of the society's most vulnerable people. As a result, he reported, people are losing their confidence in the future. The best hope for the Iraqi people, he said, would lie in a return to the normal life they enjoyed before the Persian Gulf War. - "Vatican envoy in Iraq denounces embargo again,"
FEBRUARY 1999 : (IRAQI OFFICIAL ZAHAWIE aka ZAHAWI TRAVELS TO NIGER; IAEA WOULD LATER IN 2003 SAY THAT HE WAS ON A "TRADE MISSION" TO AFRICA ) In this column last week  , I reported that IAEA Senior Information Officer Melissa Fleming, in response to written questions from me, did state that Zahawie was the Iraqi official who went to Niger in 1999. He went, she said , as "a part of a trade mission and also he was accredited to Niger as Ambassador." IAEA, she said, had interviewed him in Baghdad in the presence of Iraqi monitors.- "Iraqi Nuke Hawk Went to Niger," by Terence P. Jeffrey, Human Events , 8/1/03
APRIL 9, 1999 : (NIGER : PRESIDENT MAINASSARA IS ASSASSINATED) Niger's president, Ibrahim Bare Mainassara, was ambushed and killed by dissident soldiers at the airport in the capital, Niamey, on April 9, 1999 - "1999 year in review," CNN
APRIL 1999 : (NIGER : MILITARY JUNTA LED BY MAJOR DAOUDA WANKE TAKES POWER) A few days after the assassination of Ibrahim Bare Mainassara, a military junta headed by Major Daouda Wanke took power. They pledged to hold civilian elections by the end of the year. - "On this Day 9 April 1999: President of Niger 'killed in ambush,' BBC News
1999 : (ITALY : NIGER'S AMBASSADOR TO ROME IS ADAMOU SEKOU) Adamou Sekou was Niger's ambassador in Rome - "A look at the U.S.-British claims that Iraq tried to acquire uranium in Africa," AP, SEPT 21, 2003
JUNE 1999 : (NIGER : BUSINESSMAN APPROACHES A FORMER NIGERIEN OFFICIAL AND ASKS FOR A MEETING, THE OFFICIAL INTERPRETED IT AS AN ATTEMPT TO DISCUSS URANIUM SALES, ACCORDING TO TENET IN 2003, CITING A REPORT BY AN OUTSIDE INVESTIGATOR THE CIA SENT TO NIGER IN 2002- FORMER AMBASSADOR WILSON WOULD LATER CLAIM TO BE THIS OUTSIDE INVESTIGATOR) An outside investigator whom the CIA sent to Niger [in 2002] reported that a former Niger official he spoke with "said that in June 1999 a businessman approached him and insisted that the former official meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss 'expanding commercial relations' between Iraq and Niger. The former official interpreted the overture as an attempt to discuss uranium sales." This alleged June overture, trying to set up a subsequent Iraq-Niger "commercial relations" meeting, would have taken place four months after what the IAEA described as Zahawi's February 1999 "trade mission."According to a July 11 statement by CIA Director George Tenet )- "Iraqi Nuke Hawk Went to Niger," by Terence P. Jeffrey, Human Events , 8/1/03
(* My note : Note that this report has absolutely NOTHING to do with forged documents, or any documents, but is an interview of real live witnesses.
OCTOBER 1999 : (INTEL ON INDIA INTERCEPTION OF N KOREAN MISSILE COMPONENT SHIPMENT TO PAKISTAN, MISSILE STEEL TO EGYPT, IRAN & LIBYA , EVEN CONGO, POSSIBLY INVOLVED FOR URANIUM) " .. Other recent activities by the North Koreans outlined in classified intelligence reports include: North Korea last summer tried to ship missile components to Pakistan but the ship was intercepted during a stop in India. In July, North Korea sent specialty steel with missile applications through a Chinese company in Hong Kong to Egypt, which is secretly cooperating with Pyongyang in building Scud missiles. Iranian officials recently traveled to North Korea to discuss missile cooperation. Iran is building two types of medium-range missiles, mostly with Russian and Chinese assistance. There are some signs that North Korea is assisting Libya with its efforts to develop missiles. North Koreans are helping train the Congo military and may be paid for the training with uranium ore from the African nation's Shinkolobwe mine -- where fuel for the first U.S. nuclear weapons originated .." - The Washington Times 10/28/99 Bill Gertz (* My Note: Wonder if this has anything to do with the attempt to get Uranium from Africa by both al Qaeda and Iraq revealed in Bush's speech in late 2002?)
OCTOBER 31, 1999 : (EGYPT AIR FLIGHT SENT PLUMMETING INTO THE OCEAN OFF US COAST BY SUICIDAL EGYPTIAN PILOT) A suspected suicidal Muslim pilot was believed to have purposely crashed an Egypt Air Flight into the sea shortly after takeoff from New York on October 31, 1999 killing all 217 on board - "A Short History of World War IIIA Lesson of the Future.," by Sal Rosken, The Partial Observer , 2 March 2003
NOVEMBER 1999 : (NIGER : MAMADOU ELECTED PRESIDENT IN CLOSE ELECTION) a former army officer, Tandja Mamadou, was elected president after a close-run election. - "On this Day 9 April 1999: President of Niger 'killed in ambush,' BBC News
DECEMBER 29, 1999 : ( IRAQ'S AMBASSADOR TO THE VATICAN WISSAM AL ZAHAWIE aka ZAHAWI HAS ANOTHER LETTER PUBLISHED IN THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE ; IN IT HE SAYS THE UN IS TRYING TO GIVE THE US AND UK AN EXCUSE TO KEEP BOMBING) - Zenit
DECEMBER 30, 1999 : (IRAQ'S AMBASSADOR TO THE VATICAN WISSAM AL ZAHAWIE aka ZAHAWI HAS ANOTHER LETTER PUBLISHED IN THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE ; THIS ONE OBJECTS TO RESUMPTION OF UN INSPECTIONS) On December 30, 1999, 10 months after his trade mission to Niger, the International Herald Tribune published a letter from Zahawie objecting to resumption of UN weapons inspections. "It should come as no surprise that Iraq should resist the return of the so-called inspectors who were relaying to the United States and Britain the information they need to choose the targets for their systematic bombing of Iraq," Zahawie wrote.- "Iraqi Nuke Hawk Went to Niger," by Terence P. Jeffrey, Human Events , 8/1/03
1999 : (AFRICA : GABON QUITS EXPORTING URANIUM)
SEPTEMBER 2000 : (SANCTIONS-BREAKERS : FATHER JEAN-MARIE BENJAMIN, FRENCH CITIZENS TRIP TO IRAQ) A diplomatic row has blown up at the United Nations over a direct flight between Paris and Baghdad. [The flight is to] to fight against an intolerable situation which condemns an innocent population to a slow agony. Flight organiser Father Jean-Marie Benjamin
About 80 French doctors, artists and sports personalities are planning to leave for Baghdad at 0800 (0600 GMT) on Friday to provide medical assistance and take part in a cultural festival.
Britain and the United States say that the French are violating UN sanctions against Iraq by not giving enough notice of the flight. However, France maintains that it is not trying to erode sanctions, but merely interpreting UN resolutions in a more liberal way than Washington and London.
The flight has been arranged by a private French group opposed to the international sanctions imposed after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. A second French group has announced plans for another flight on 29 September. Its organiser, Father Jean-Marie Benjamin, said it was "to fight against an intolerable situation which condemns an innocent population to a slow agony".
Last week Russia flew a passenger flight to Iraq carrying humanitarian aid and a number of oil executives. But it gave the UN sanctions committee a few day's notice, enabling other countries to decide whether they wanted to raise any objections. Objections
However, this time, France gave the committee only a few hours' notice, arguing that it did not need the UN's approval as the flight is not commercial. Britain has formally objected to the flight, saying that it breaks the sanctions. "We objected. We don't think it is humanitarian," a British diplomat said.
US officials said they were still reviewing the situation, although they had raised similar concerns earlier in the day.
The Netherlands, which chairs the committee on the Iraqi sanctions, has asked France to delay the flight's departure.
Both France and Russia, close trading partners of Iraq before the invasion of Kuwait, want the sanctions eased and lifted.
The BBC's United Nations correspondent says the row over flights raises questions about the future of the sanctions now that such prominent countries appear increasingly willing to test the embargo's limits.
Iraq re-opened its international airport last month to enable it to receive international flights against, despite the sanctions.
In a separate development, Russia, France and Tunisia have proposed a reduction of the amount of compensation Iraq pays to Gulf war victims from 30% to 20% in order to allow more funds for humanitarian goods. The proposal comes as the UN Security Council discusses the latest UN report on the oil-for-food programme that allows Iraq to buy humanitarian goods to counter the effect of sanctions. - " French defiant on flight to Iraq," BBC, Friday, 22 September, 2000, 02:12 GMT 03:12 UK
SEPTEMBER 29- OCTOBER 1, 2000 : (SANCTIONS BUSTING : FRENCH PRIEST BENJAMIN : "AN AIRCRAFT FOR IRAQ CAMPAIGN") More than 150 religious, political, and cultural, non-governmental and humanitarian organization leaders launched a campaign to highlight the plight of the Iraqi people and call for an end to the decade-long UN embargo of Outside groups call for lifting of sanctions. The delegation, lead by Father Jean Marie Benjamin, visited Baghdad from September 29 to October 1. During their stay in Iraq, members of the delegation met with representatives of UNICEF and diplomatic staff, and visited hospitals and social centers.
Organizers of the An Aircraft for Iraq campaign are drawing attention to the 135,000 tons of bombs and more than 1 million depleted uranium bullets that have strafed the country over the last decade since the devastating Gulf War. The Iraqi population runs a serious risk of contamination from such weapons, including increased leukemia and cancer rates and immune system disorders, the campaign organizers say. However, since the weapons are made of depleted uranium, they are non-radioactive and cannot cause the mutations that create cancers and other illnesses, according to US government reports. US military personnel have handled the weapons every day for decades without special protective equipment.
According to a UNICEF report published in 1999, one child under five years old dies every 8 minutes in Iraq from disease and malnutrition. The death toll amounts to more than 5,000 children every month and 1.5 million civilians annually. An entire population is shut up in a real extermination camp, Father Benjamin said. The people afflicted by the embargo are on their knees, psychologically and as a society. Islamic fundamentalism, which previously barely existed in the country, has spread to 60 percent of the population, he added.
Of the 10,000 schools in the country, more than 8,000 are out of action. An entire generation is facing a hopeless future with a ten-year gap in its schooling, said Father Gian Maria Polidoro, OFM, a Franciscan from Assisi Pax International. The organization, whose mission is global peace, is a member of the delegation that visited Baghdad. The social and economic fabric of Iraq has been totally destroyed, he said.
In the southern part of the country, cholera and other infectious diseases are spreading. Hans Von Sponeck and Denis Halliday, former UN humanitarian aid coordinators in Iraq, resigned from their positions, saying they did not want to be accomplices to genocide.
The international community cannot look on silently as the Iraqi people writhe in agony. It is an act of legalized genocide being carried out by two major powers acting in the strategic and military interests of economic lobbies and multinational companies. The two no-fly-zones unilaterally imposed by Anglo-American administrations, which have never been recognized by the United Nations, are a clear violation of international law, Father Benjamin said. Our campaign is entirely in accordance with the views of the Pope, who has repeatedly declared his opposition to the embargo, he added.
According to Vatican State Secretary, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Pope John Paul II has not abandoned the idea of a pilgrimage to Ur of the Chaldeans. The Pope expressed this wish in 1999 in his letter entitled Pilgrimage to the places linked to the history of salvation. - "IRAQ : Ending the embargo : Outside groups call for lifting of sanctions," World Watch, http://www.catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Igpress/2000-11/wiraq.html
SEPTEMBER 7, 2001 : (ITALY : THIS IS THE DATE FATHER JEAN-MARIE BENJAMIN LATER CLAIMS HE WAS TOLD OF 9/11 ATTACKS NOT ONLY ON THE US BUT ALSO ON THE UK IN ADVANCE; HE ALSO CLAIMS HE TRIED TO WARN GOVERNMENT) (* So far there is no corroborating evidence he had advance knowledge, as the earliest report of it took place on Sept 16, some days AFTER the attacks.)
SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 : (9/11 ATTACKS ON THE US, WTC, PENTAGON HIT, FINAL PLANE CRASHES IN PENNSYLVANIA STRIP MINE)
SEPTEMBER 16, 2001 AFTER 9/11 : (REPORT IN VATICAN'S ONLINE NEWS AGENCY "ZENIT" SAYS FATHER JEAN-MARIE BENJAMIN SAYS HE HEARD OF 9/11 ATTACKS IN ADVANCE AND TOLD PEOPLE AT AN UPSCALE WEDDING PARTY HE WAS OFFICIATING BEFORE 911 OF IT)(* My note- there is no proof he knew in advance, have not found any corroborating witnesses at the time I copied this, and have no mention of whose wedding.)
FEBRUARY 2003 : (CARDINAL ROGER ETCHEGARAY IS IN IRAQ) Cardinal Roger Etchegaray was in Baghdad
FEBRUARY 2003 : (FATHER JEAN-MARIE BENJAMIN HELPS ORGANIZE THE VISIT OF IRAQI DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER TARIQ AZIZ TO THE VATICAN FOR TALKS WITH POPE JOHN PAUL II & SENIOR VATICAN OFFFICIALS)Meanwhile, the Iraqi Foreign Minister Tareq Aziz, a Catholic, was in Rome to meet with the Pope, and he went to Assisi, where he prayed at the tomb of St Francis, and left a message in the visitors book in the form of a prayer for peace. His visit to Italy was organised by Father Jean-Marie Benjamin who, as well as being a songwriter, has had a long involvement with the Iraqi people. Over the past ten years hes been a frequent visitor to Baghdad, in fact he was among the first to break the UN embargo by smuggling medicine into the country. And hes written several books on the impact of the UN sanctions. - "A priest for peace," Wednesday 19/2/2003 , The Religion Report, Radio National, http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/relrpt/stories/s787908.htm.
FEBRUARY 19, 2003 : (INTERVIEW OF FATHER JEAN-MARIE BENJAMIN INCLUDES BENJAMIN'S PROTEST SONG "MR. PRESIDENT")Well that protest song, Mr President, is getting lots of airplay on Italian radio at the moment. It was written by a very busy French priest living in Italy, Father Jean-Marie Benjamin. And it includes lines like Hey Mr President, weve understood it all, that were all slaves of Wall Street.
And, like the Vatican, you think the "UN" is the ultimate answer to every dispute. Now the Vatican wants to actually join that albatross of an organization.
What a friggin' joke Vatican foreign policy has become!
Father Benjamin produced a documentary aka propaganda film on Iraq... who paid for it? Who provided the equipment?
I doubt if it was funded through the sale of indulgences
(Sorry, I'm Lutheran and just had to add that in jest)
Was it funded by the Church, was it funded by Benjamin, or was it, like Scott Ritter's documentary, funded by donors with very strong ties to the Saddam Hussein regime?
What post number on this thread was all of that set forth on your part? The only post of yours that I observed was deep into process and elliptical formulae reasonably calculated to result in inaction in the fact of palpable evil. For myself, I want no part of any such moral world view. My point of view is more catholic as it were.
If I were you I'd show a bit more humility. Was it God who authored the torture, mutilation and death of millions of innocent Christians that began the moment Christianity became acknowledged in the Roman world? Or was it the vanity of human beings?
God is what God is, and mankind is what mankind is.
Evidently your eyes are rolling in your head because you have suffered a seizure of some sort. Why would I or anyone want Pope John Paul to be quaking in his boots?
No it should not, but there were some statements made by holders of shockingly high Vatican positions which came very close to crossing that line.
I'm referring specifically to the statements suggesting that in the modern world war could never be justified without U. N. approval. The only way to square that with Just War theory is to assume the nation state is no longer a sovereign authority. Dangerous stuff, especially since it was sort of dumped out there without explanation or attempt to explain it in light of the soverign authority concept within Just War principal.
Why has Rome remained silent on the mass graves in Iraq?
Not that it's an issue, but for my part, I worship God.