To Repent, to Restore, to Rebuild, and to Reconcile – A Study Paper on Costly Lessons of the Iraq War (2008)

The purpose of this study paper is to state more fully the Christian basis for the “costly lessons” affirmed in the resolution (now in Appendix A) and for the directions signaled in its title, “to repent, to restore, to rebuild and to reconcile.” In practical terms, repentance can simply mean changing the direction of our policy, but it means here changing assumptions about how international relations are done. Similarly, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group (Baker?Hamilton Commission) speaks frequently of the need for “national reconciliation” in Iraq, building on dialogue, equitable sharing of oil and other resources, and even?controversial “amnesty” for those who participated in the horrific violence of the past five years. Beyond this emphasis on retaining national coherence through hard compromise and international support – goals we support and see no need to duplicate in many cases – this paper sees the response to Iraq as a major test for how the international role of the U.S. may be revised.