The Moment of Truth

President Bush, in his powerful speech Monday night, gave Saddam Hussein a final ultimatum. He and his family must leave Iraq in forty-eight hours and go into exile or face war. Saddam has already said that he will not leave, but Christians should be praying for just such a miracle --that justice and peace might yet prevail. But if war is inevitable, we should be asking God to protect our men and women who are putting themselves in harm's way. Pray for mercy for noncombatants and for wisdom for the president and our leaders. The just war doctrine, in my opinion, applies most clearly to Iraq, provided that there is a connection drawn between the terrorists and the Iraqi regime. Any question about that connection was settled this weekend by Saddam Hussein. Saddam told his commanders, "When the enemy starts a large-scale battle, he must realize that the battle between us will be open wherever there is sky, land, and water in the entire world." His threat assumes a connection to global terrorism. The terrorist threat raises questions we have never faced before. Our enemy is not interested in conquest, but rather destabilizing civilization. That is why President Bush has adopted a strategy of confronting the axis of evil, nations that are producing weapons of mass destruction and that are willing to supply terrorists. We can't find the two thousand or so terrorist cells that exist around the world, so what we have to do is go to the places where weapons of mass destruction are being made and eliminate them. Bush is right. Civilized people could not live in an environment where terrorists are armed with weapons of mass destruction. It would quickly result in either a police state or anarchy. President Bush wisely recognizes this and is forging a bold, new foreign policy. As he said in his speech, "Instead of drifting along toward tragedy, we will set a course toward safety. Before the day of horror can come, before it is too late to act, this danger will be removed." Bush's announcement Monday night marks a new era in another way. One of the useful functions of the United Nations (UN) over the years has been to give moral authority to measures restraining aggression. This was the case in Korea, Kuwait, and in the Balkans. Well, the UN has now switched sides. By its inaction, it gives a cloak of moral authority to tyrants. After twelve years of trying to discipline Iraq, the time has come to act on UN resolutions, and the UN can do nothing more than debate endlessly. This war not only spells the end of Saddam Hussein, but perhaps of the United Nations as well. New alliances will have to be forged between nations that want to preserve order and live with decency and justice. President Bush made it clear that this is our goal in Iraq. He assured the Iraqi people, "If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you." And he urged the Iraqi military "to act with honor and protect your country by permitting the peaceful entry of coalition forces to eliminate weapons of mass destruction." The doctrine of just war, we must remember, flows out of the Christian command to love your neighbor. It is an act of love to wield the sword against evil and against threats to innocent lives. A justly fought war against Saddam Hussein will be -- barring God's intervention in these forty-eight hours -- just such a war. For further information: "President Says Saddam Hussein Must Leave Iraq within 48 Hours," Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation, The Cross Hall, White House Office of the Press Secretary, 17 March 2003. BreakPoint Commentary No. 030311, "One Last Chance: Prayers for Peace." Dana Milbank and Mike Allen, "President Tells Hussein to Leave Iraq within 48 Hours or Face Invasion," Washington Post, 18 March 2003, A01. "Bush says today last diplomatic chance," Daily Oklahoman, 17 March 2003. David Brooks, "48 Hours," Weekly Standard, 17 March 2003. "48 Hours: A presidential-address scorecard," a National Review symposium, 18 March 2003. "The 12-Year War," Wall Street Journal, 18 March 2003. Read the BreakPoint Fact Sheet on Just War Theory. Read the letter to church leaders, "Middle East: A Call to Fasting and Prayer."


Chuck Colson



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