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Catholic justice council questions Iraq 'pre-deployment'

The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council has questioned the so-called "pre-deployment' of Australian forces to the Middle East.

Bishop William Morris, Chairman of the ACSJC said the decision to join the US military buildup in the Gulf "seems to contradict strong community sentiment" and "runs the risk of undermining United Nations processes which provide the best means of resolving tensions in the Middle East without recourse to war".

Acting Prime Minister John Anderson forshadowed the deployment on 9 January. The first departures took place last week.

Bishop Morris said the Government is sending the forces while he "has not argued a persuasive case before Parliament or the Australian people" and has not honoured his promise of "a full Parliamentary debate on a possible military commitment to war in Iraq".

"The Government maintains it has not yet made a decision to go to war," he said. "However, this deployment reveals how Australia's preparations for war have been allowed to run far in advance of any informed public debate on the matter."

Meanwhile the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes (ACLRI) added its voice to the rising number of protest voices by speaking out against the deployment.

A statement issued by ACLRI President Sr Bernadette Keating (pictured) criticised the US-led buildup, pointing out that "the new doctrine of pre-emptive war is so radical that it has no precedent in International law".

"Diplomacy and persuasion is called for, not threats to Iraq through a show of military strength," she said. "Our Just War tradition insists that peaceful and diplomatic alternatives, such as those currently in operation by the United Nations Security Council, must first be exhausted."

Australian Catholic Social Justice Council/Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes

Australia Dispatches First Forces to Persian Gulf (New York Times)
Cardinal predicts failure for Novak's effort to sell Vatican on Iraq war (National Catholic Reporter)
Vatican criticism of war plans chills relations with U.S. (National Catholic Reporter)
Australian Catholic Social Justice Council
Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes

28 Jan 2003