Five weeks ago, we began a series of posts on the cost of the war in Iraq. We have focused primarily on the human costs -- the death and suffering of Americans and Iraqis after five years of war. There have been moving posts from soldiers, veterans, their parents, Iraqis, peacemakers, and theologians. We launched a statement -- "A Call to Lament and Repent" -- which more than 26,000 of you have now signed -- and publicized it with ads in the online editions of Christianity Today, Relevant, and The Christian Century.
While that series is formally ending, the war and the suffering go on. On Easter Sunday, four U.S. soldiers were killed in Baghdad, bringing the total to 4,000. Around the country of Iraq, more than 60 people were killed in attacks. The Iraq Body Count database has now documented 90,000 civilian deaths - other estimates go into the hundreds of thousands. And this week, new fighting is raging in several Iraqi cities, causing additional casualties.
More than ever, as our statement says, "The American occupation must end, a transition to an international solution to Iraq must be found, a peaceful resolution is possible and must be pursued. Our country should end this war; not try to "win" it; and we must help the Iraqi people build a safer and more peaceful country."
While the media pundits continue to debate levels of violence, "surge" successes and failures, and the lack of political progress in Iraq, we must continue to raise the larger and deeper issue of how fundamentally wrong it was to launch a pre-emptive and primarily unilateral war against Iraq. There were far better ways to deal with the evil of Saddam Hussein and the threats of terrorism - which this war has only made worse. Repentance means a fundamental change in direction and that is what we must now call for in U.S. foreign policy.
On Easter we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the new life he brings. Where is Easter, that new life, for Iraq? How long will the suffering and killing go on? The need to lament, to repent, and to continue praying and acting to end this war is more important than ever.