Marking the 5th Anniversary of the Iraq War on 19 March

Anthea Cox, Methodist Co-ordinating Secretary for PublicLife and Social Justice: "The war in Iraq has been far more costlyin terms of lives lost than anyone could have imagined. We areacutely aware of the appalling death toll of Iraqi civilians as thecountry struggles to contain the violence. We are mindful ofBritish troops currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and theChaplains who serve alongside them. We are aware of the costlyservice that they undertake. Our hearts go out to all families whohave lost loved ones in the past five years.

"The kidnapping and tragic death of Archbishop Rahho illustratesthe extreme danger faced by Christians and other minorities in Iraqtoday. We are enormously concerned for the Iraqi Christiancommunity and will continue to uphold them in our prayers.

"Following the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraqmany more people now question whether the invasion was justifiedand whether this was the only course open to us. It is right thatsuch questions should still be asked today. Iraq has shown us thata military response that seeks to exert control can easily bringfurther chaos. We need to learn lessons regarding the role ofdiplomacy, the relationship between the intelligence services andgovernment policy-making and the importance of regional alliancesin addressing conflict and post-conflict reconstruction.

"The UK must continue to work with the people of Iraq and offersupport. We would ask those with influence to consider how regionalpowers might be brought together to work on solutions and how toprovide security for minorities. We also need to consider howexternal powers can best help to foster national reconciliation andstrengthen political institutions in Iraq."

1) The report, Peacemaking: A Christian Vocation, was commended by the 2006Methodist Conference.