Confronting Iraq: Might doesn't make right
By Desmond Tutu and Ian Urbina
(IHT) - Friday, March 14, 2003
People of faith belong on the side of peace. But it is
more than just those of all religions who stand against an
attack on Iraq. It is also those who put their trust in
The current moment confronts the world with a terrible
decision: will we stand by reason and law or act in force
and aggression? There has never been a more important test
of the values of average people around the globe. At stake
is whether might makes right.
The United States is indeed a mighty country. But its real
strength resides in its proud history of standing for what
is just. In figures such as Martin Luther King, the world
draws moral fortitude and an example of the effectiveness
of non-violent struggle. With the grassroots boycotting
efforts of everyday Americans, and the eventual diplomatic
pressure of their government, South African apartheid was
ended. The prison doors would still be shut around Nelson
Mandela were it not for the help of the United States.
These traditions have spoken recently on the streets.
Never has there been such a popular and peaceful
outpouring of opposition, even before the act war has
taken place. This is truly the moral meaning of
There is no dishonor in the willingness to slow things
down for the inspections to run their course. Few doubt
that the United States has established a credible threat
of force. Now the United Nations must be permitted to do
its job. Disarmament is an absolute necessity. Nothing
will undermine it more than a brazen disregard for the one
institution which can actually achieve it.
It is not a vote against the war which threatens the
United Nations with irrelevance. It is the unilateral
cajoling by the sole remaining superpower which risks
corrupting this otherwise democratic and international
It is the inconsistent application of its resolutions,
whereby some violators operate above the law, while others
lack due process. It is the threat that money will dictate
votes where only law and evidence should hold sway.
The question is not whether the United States has the
ability to change the current heinous regime in Baghdad.
It does. The question is whether it is worth the cost not
just in terms of the fate of diplomacy and law, but also
in terms of the thousands of innocent victims which will
result now and down the road in the repercussions to come.
President George W. Bush is a man of faith. We can only
hope that he believes in law as well.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.
Ian Urbina is associate editor at the Middle East Research
and Information Project.