Christian Peacemaker Teams Respond to Presidential Address

12-20-05, 8:47 am

Press Statement, Monday, December 19, 2005

Baghdad, Iraq, and Amman, Jordan - Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) members working in Iraq and Jordan reacted early Monday to President Bush's address on the war in Iraq. Reached by telephone in the Team's apartment in a Baghdad neighbourhood, Maxine Nash reflected on the impacts of the war on the services on which ordinary Iraqis rely: 'I tried to watch President Bush's speech,' she said, 'but I couldn't - there was no electricity.'

From the failure to rebuild basic civilian infrastucture to the thousands of Iraqi detainees in US Detention Centres to the tens of thousands of civilian casualties and injuries, CPT believes that the United States and Coalition Forces war has failed to bring peace and true democracy to Iraq. Yet, in his address, the president insisted that the way to defeat what he calls terrorism and make way for democracy is to continue to go 'on the offensive.'

To this, full-time Iraq team member Peggy Gish, 63, commented in Amman, 'based on my three years of listening to Iraqis who have suffered the pain of war, US and Iraqi forces 'on the offensive' means continued mass arrests, house raids and bombing of civilians, continued illegal detentions, torture, and abuse.'

Sheila Provencher, 33, who left Baghdad for Amman just three weeks ago, added, 'Where are these seven out of ten Iraqis that he quotes as saying that their lives are going well? I wonder if the poll he quoted is like another I read about recently, which omitted the entire Anbar province because of security concerns.'

'I noticed that the president framed his argument for the war almost entirely in terms of what he called the 'global terrorist movement' that will 'attack America wherever they can',' Provencher continued. 'Ironically, he does admit that the desire to attack Americans 'has attracted Al Qaeda into Iraq.''

'But,' she added, 'he does not seem to realize that there are thousands of members of a nationalist Iraqi insurgency who will use force to end the American occupation of their country, without using suicide bombers or civilian attacks. If he fails to understand the true nature and grievances of the nationalist insurgency - namely, that they perceive themselves as fighting for the freedom of their country - he will never understand that the very presence of US troops exacerbates the violence.'

CPT has worked in Iraq for more than three years, focusing since the US invasion on the plight of Iraqi detainees and their families, the effects of US and Iraqi offensives in civilian areas, and the development of Iraqi peace and human rights groups.

Instead of further offensives, which only increase the violence and chaos, members of CPT currently living in Iraq with ordinary Iraqis recommend stating an intention to withdraw all US troops immediately, beginning with urban areas; stopping US bombing; and providing sufficient funds to the Iraqi people to rebuild basic infrastructure.

Further, CPT urges an end to illegal detentions and torture in US detention facilities and a fair and speedy judicial process for detainees. Additional diplomatic means are urged to pressure the Iraqi government to take corresponding actions regarding detainees held in Iraqi detention facilities. 

          --Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical violence-reduction program with roots in the historic peace churches. Teams of trained peace workers live in areas of lethal conflict around the world. CPT has been present in Iraq since October, 2002. To learn more about CPT, please visit . Photos of our projects may be viewed at