A Lenten Call to Repentance

By Jim Wallis 2-21-2008

The Cost of War

March 19 will be the fifth anniversary of the war with Iraq. In this season of Lent, we are called to lament and repent for an ongoing war that is being waged by our country, financed by our taxes, and fought by our brothers and sisters. After five years, we all lament the suffering and violence in Iraq. We mourn the nearly 4,000 Americans who have lost their lives, the tens of thousands wounded in body and mind, and the unknown hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died.

Recent U.S. claims of modest security gains in certain sectors of Iraq do not justify extending the U.S occupation - especially when five years of occupation has not produced the political reconciliation necessary for real security and stability. The fragile security improvements are not sustainable without a political solution, which is simply not forthcoming. And without a clear path to political progress, we will simply see more of the same failed strategy and a scenario of American occupation in the midst of bloody sectarian warfare with absolutely no end in sight-and with a real prospect of compounding the tragedy by attacking Iran as well.

On this anniversary, we should all repent for America's actions. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once said about the war in Vietnam: "How can I pray when I have on my conscience the awareness that I am co-responsible for the death of innocent people in Vietnam? In a free society, some are guilty, all are responsible." It is a good lesson for those of us who oppose the war

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