Introduction to the Symposium, “What does the United States owe Iraq?”

[1] Journal of Lutheran Ethics asked persons who had written earlier in JLE on Iraq to write once again in light of current circumstances. JLE asked them to address the question: “What does the United States owe Iraq? What obligations does the U.S. have toward Iraq?”

[2] Six writers take up the challenge. They all recognize that in light of the new military strategy in Iraq (the “surge”), the growing unpopularity of the war and the call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, the question is timely and complex. They agree that the direction the United States takes now will have long-term repercussions for Iraq, the Middle East and the United States.

[3] The six contributors to the symposium approach the topic from different angles, identify different obligations that the United States has, and support different U.S. policies. These contributions from H. David Baer, Robert Benne, Stewart Herman, Paul Hinlicky, Paul Jersild and Brian Stiltner add depth to the public discussion of the Iraqi war and provide keen insights for citizens seeking for direction in this fog of war.

[4] See the portfolio “Iraq: Discussing the War” for earlier JLE articles

[5] In addition, Paul Gillis sets out the principles of the just war theory and applies them to the actual situation in Iraq. Especially important is his development of jus post bellum, which deals with the post-war stage of conflict and how to end wars completely and fairly. Giles finds that just war theory and Lutheran ethical principles provide guidance in how to address the difficult issues Iraq poses.

[6] A book soon to published by a Lutheran ethicist fits well with our theme this month. “Four Global Challenges” is excerpted from the book, War, Peace, and God: Rethinking the Just-War Tradition, by Dr. Gary Simpson, Professor of Systematic Theology at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. The book is scheduled to be released by Fortress Press in October 2007. “Four Global Challenges” copyright (c) 2007 Fortress Press, an imprint of Augsburg Fortress, Publishers. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced in any form without prior written permission from the publisher.

John R. Stumme

Dr. John R. Stumme is a retired ELCA Pastor. When he wrote this piece, he was Professor of Systematic Theology at the Instituto Superior Evangélico de Estudios Teológicos in Buenos Aires and Vice-President of the Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Unida in Argentina. After ten years in Argentina, he worked for almost two decades with the ELCA's Church in Society unit as Associate Director and Director for its Department for Studies.