An American Disgrace

As Sojourners goes to press, the pictures of Kurdish refugees by the hundreds of thousands, trapped in the cold, wet highlands of northern Iraq, continue to haunt us. Dying children clinging to each other, mothers and grandmothers carrying dead infants to makeshift burial grounds, swarms of desperately hungry men attacking each other for meager rations, relief packages thrown from airplanes and helicopters as if to herds of cattle below -- all of it brings to mind Paul's classic dictum: "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).

For it is sin that has brought on this Kurdish deathtrap. It is the sin of George Bush's war -- precipitously entered, murderously carried out, and then vicariously continued at the urging of Bush, who through Radio Free Iraq called upon these same Kurdish people, among others, to oust Saddam Hussein. The sin has continued as an indifferent U.S. administration piously refrained from offering humanitarian assistance to those dying in the mountains, under the pretext of not interfering in Iraq's internal affairs. As if our tens of thousands of bombing missions between mid-January and mid-February were not intervention.

It gives us no satisfaction at all to note that we predicted in these pages the possibility of such a disaster from that August day when the president turned toward a military rather than diplomatic path. Our editorial comment, written at the end of August, said, in part: "Either we take the new and difficult road of multilateral and non-military solutions to the inevitable conflicts between nations; or we continue the old cycle of unilateral intervention and retaliation, leading only to political dead ends and endless human suffering" (see "What Price Oil?," October 1990).

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