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NCC welcomes Iraq Study Group report
and agrees with many of its recommendations

New York, December 6, 2006 – The National Council of Churches USA said the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group "generally resonate" with church leaders' recommendations, and urged President Bush and the Congress "to understand the opportunity presented by this report."

Last month, the General Assembly of the NCC and Church World Service issued "A Pastoral Message on the Iraq War" that called for a withdrawal of U.S. troops and the rebuilding of a secure Iraqi society.

The NCC commended the Iraq Study Group Report for its encouragement of multilateral engagement in addressing the situation in Iraq, a move also called for by the NCC’s “Pastoral Message.” 

The Report’s recommendation that such engagement would include diplomatic initiatives with Iran and Syria, as well as involving the United Nations and other international partners, is consistent with other statements made by the NCC in recent months and years, the statement said.

The full text of the NCC statement follows:

The Iraq Study Group Report:
A Response by the National Council of Churches USA

The National Council of Churches USA urges President George W. Bush to heed the recommendations in the Iraq Study Group Report.  While no set of recommendations can right all of the wrongs evolving from the Iraq war, this report does lay groundwork for an end to the war that all sides can find acceptable.  The president, as well as the newly-elected Congress, needs to understand the opportunity presented by this report. 

The recommendations in the Iraq Study Group Report generally resonate with recommendations made by church leaders through the NCC.  In “A Pastoral Message on the Iraq War” issued at its November general assembly, the NCC called for a withdrawal of US troops, benchmarks for rebuilding Iraqi society, and steps to meet the security concerns of all Iraqis, including the more vulnerable, smaller ethnic and religious communities. 

The Iraq Study Group Report likewise calls for a draw-down of US forces, as well as milestones for Iraqi national reconciliation, security, and governance.  While the NCC would have liked to have seen more specificity with regard to a timetable for withdrawal, the fact that the Report redefines the mission of US troops in such a way that makes room for their withdrawal by early 2008 is a step in the right direction.  Indeed, the Report’s suggestion of such a withdrawal, even coupled with an increase in the number of troops assigned to the training of Iraqi forces, is a realization that the occupation of Iraq is an ever-deteriorating situation and therefore must end.   

The NCC commends the Iraq Study Group Report for its encouragement of multilateral engagement in addressing the situation in Iraq, a move also called for by the NCC’s “Pastoral Message.”  The Report’s recommendation that such engagement would include diplomatic initiatives with Iran and Syria, as well as involving the United Nations and other international partners, is consistent with other statements made by the NCC in recent months and years.  Also consistent with the NCC’s viewpoint is the Report’s conclusion that the situation in Israel / Palestine is integrally related to the situation in Iraq, and indeed that a solution to the Israeli – Palestinian conflict is central to the solution of all problems in the Middle East. 

In its “Pastoral Message,” the NCC lamented the lapse in US moral leadership “as it pertains to our country’s justification and conduct of this war in Iraq.”  The Iraq Study Group Report enables the US to take a step in reclaiming this moral leadership, by stating:  “Because of the role and responsibility of the United States in Iraq, and the commitments our government has made, the United States has special obligations.”  The path our country takes in meeting these obligations can only be determined if we find consensus, as is hoped for in this Report.  It is the view of the NCC that this Report offers the best opportunity at this time in our nation’s history to find such consensus.  

For information, please contact Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, Associate General Secretary for International Affairs and Peace, at 212-870-3422, or tkireopoulos@ncccusa.org


NCC News contact:  Dan Webster, 212.870.2252, dwebster@ncccusa.org.


 

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