Colonel Collins' attack on Kember misplaced, say Christian peacemakers

By staff writers
May 9, 2006

Colonel Collins' attack on Kember misplaced, say Christian peacemakers

-09/05/06

Colonel Tim Collins, who came to fame for an ëinspirationalí speech on the eve of the 2003 Iraq war, has been told by Christian peacemakers that his savage attack on kidnapped Iraq activist Norman Kember is inappropriate, misplaced and ill-informed.

Described by media pundits as a ìcigar-chomping ex-soldier with the Hollywood-style good looksî, Colonel Collins, who is promoting his new book, today launched an unprovoked assault on the 74-year-old former medical professor.

Collins said that Dr Kember, freed on 23 March with two other Christian peacemakers, was ìbloody naÔveî, went ìhobnobbing with the Sunni extremistsî, ìshould have stuck to helping Christian groups forced undergroundî and ìgot what he deservedî.

But supporters of Kember, including the religious think-tank Ekklesia and the UK branch of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), have described Colonel Collinsí tirade as ìdishonourableî. They say he is demonstrably wrong about the facts and appears naÔve himself about what is involved in making peace rather than war.

Tim Nafziger of Christian Peacemaker Teams declared: ìIt deeply saddens me that Colonel Collins claims people like my deceased colleague Tom Fox ëgot what he deservedí. CPT has been in Iraq since October 2002, five months before British and American troops arrived. During that time they have worked tirelessly to support Sunni and Shiite peacemakers who are working against sectarian violence.î

He continued: ìWe agree with Colonel Collins that the mission to bring peace in Iraq through violence has failed. Its now time to take a serious look at how we can best support Iraqi peacemakers who are working at the grassroots to build a safe future for Iraq.î

Jonathan Bartley, director of Ekklesia, which has followed events closely since the CPT volunteers were kidnapped in November 2005, said: ìChristian peacemakers arenít naÔve. They took known risks to break down the cycle of violence in Iraq. By contrast, Tim Collins said in his speech before the war that he intended to bring everyone out alive and that the invasion would leave Iraq a better place. Thatís real naivete for you.î

Bartley continued: ìLike other CPT critics, Colonel Collins also appears woefully ill-informed. Far from ëhob-nobbing with extremistsí, CPT is actively involved in seeking to bring Sunni and Shia factions together. In fact Dr Kember was meeting with a senior Sunni cleric after talking with a Shia equivalent when he was kidnapped.î

In suggesting that Christian Peacemakers should have been helping church groups forced underground in other areas of the country, Colonel Collins seems unaware that that CPT does indeed work closely with local Christians, says Ekklesia ñ adding that the plight of churches in Iraq has worsened notably since the invasion.

The think-tank also says that through its biblical allusions, the invocation of virtue, and its ëGod and countryí rhetoric, Colonel Collins Iraq oration may have contributed to the notion of the war as some kind of Christian act ñ an idea that perpetuates the conflict in the eyes of many Muslims.

Commented Jonathan Bartley: ìIn living unarmed among the Iraqi people, exposing working detainee abuse and opposing occupation, it is Christian Peacemakers who have helped combat the idea that the Western invasion was a Christian crusade. This is something Colonel Collins might learn from.î

In spite of his humanitarian sentiments about ìtreading gentlyî, according to the Daily Telegraph Colonel Collins says he trained his soldiers in Iraq to use white phosphorus, which burns through flesh to the bone, in combat against enemy troops.

The admission by the former Special Air Service officer, revealed in his autobiography Rules of Engagement, contradicts claims by the Ministry of Defence that the chemical was only ever used to create a smokescreen.

Said Ekklesiaís Jonathan Bartley. ìThe contrasting records of the two men are there for all to see. It is a shame that Dr Kember has to put up with yet more misinformed vitriol after the hate mail his family received following untrue media reports that he and CPT had not expressed thanks to the soldiers who set them free ñ without the use of force.î

[Also on Ekklesia: Peace workers hold a key to Iraq solution, says think tank 17/04/06; Clarification sought from army chief on false Kember snub allegation 16/04/06; Critics of Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq accused of being ill-informed 16/04/06; Army chief spoke without knowledge on alleged Kember ingratitude -28/03/06; What Norman said - from Iraq captive Kember's BBC interview 15/04/06; Entombed Iraq captive Jim Loney talks of Easter Hope 15/04/06; Kember notes irony of non-violent release by soldiers 15/04/06; Kember still evaluating Christian peacemaker's role in Iraq 15/04/06; Christian peacemaker Norman Kember to give first major interview tomorrow 14/04/06; CPT in Iraq: What now? 04/04/06 - Peggy Gish reflects on the future of Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq. Briefing on media accusations against Christian Peacemaker Teams - detailed background; Contending the logic of violence - Ekklesia's Simon Barrow says that true Christian peacemaking cannot afford naivete]

Colonel Collins' attack on Kember misplaced, say Christian peacemakers

-09/05/06

Colonel Tim Collins, who came to fame for an ëinspirationalí speech on the eve of the 2003 Iraq war, has been told by Christian peacemakers that his savage attack on kidnapped Iraq activist Norman Kember is inappropriate, misplaced and ill-informed.

Described by media pundits as a ìcigar-chomping ex-soldier with the Hollywood-style good looksî, Colonel Collins, who is promoting his new book, today launched an unprovoked assault on the 74-year-old former medical professor.

Collins said that Dr Kember, freed on 23 March with two other Christian peacemakers, was ìbloody naÔveî, went ìhobnobbing with the Sunni extremistsî, ìshould have stuck to helping Christian groups forced undergroundî and ìgot what he deservedî.

But supporters of Kember, including the religious think-tank Ekklesia and the UK branch of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), have described Colonel Collinsí tirade as ìdishonourableî. They say he is demonstrably wrong about the facts and appears naÔve himself about what is involved in making peace rather than war.

Tim Nafziger of Christian Peacemaker Teams declared: ìIt deeply saddens me that Colonel Collins claims people like my deceased colleague Tom Fox ëgot what he deservedí. CPT has been in Iraq since October 2002, five months before British and American troops arrived. During that time they have worked tirelessly to support Sunni and Shiite peacemakers who are working against sectarian violence.î

He continued: ìWe agree with Colonel Collins that the mission to bring peace in Iraq through violence has failed. Its now time to take a serious look at how we can best support Iraqi peacemakers who are working at the grassroots to build a safe future for Iraq.î

Jonathan Bartley, director of Ekklesia, which has followed events closely since the CPT volunteers were kidnapped in November 2005, said: ìChristian peacemakers arenít naÔve. They took known risks to break down the cycle of violence in Iraq. By contrast, Tim Collins said in his speech before the war that he intended to bring everyone out alive and that the invasion would leave Iraq a better place. Thatís real naivete for you.î

Bartley continued: ìLike other CPT critics, Colonel Collins also appears woefully ill-informed. Far from ëhob-nobbing with extremistsí, CPT is actively involved in seeking to bring Sunni and Shia factions together. In fact Dr Kember was meeting with a senior Sunni cleric after talking with a Shia equivalent when he was kidnapped.î

In suggesting that Christian Peacemakers should have been helping church groups forced underground in other areas of the country, Colonel Collins seems unaware that that CPT does indeed work closely with local Christians, says Ekklesia ñ adding that the plight of churches in Iraq has worsened notably since the invasion.

The think-tank also says that through its biblical allusions, the invocation of virtue, and its ëGod and countryí rhetoric, Colonel Collins Iraq oration may have contributed to the notion of the war as some kind of Christian act ñ an idea that perpetuates the conflict in the eyes of many Muslims.

Commented Jonathan Bartley: ìIn living unarmed among the Iraqi people, exposing working detainee abuse and opposing occupation, it is Christian Peacemakers who have helped combat the idea that the Western invasion was a Christian crusade. This is something Colonel Collins might learn from.î

In spite of his humanitarian sentiments about ìtreading gentlyî, according to the Daily Telegraph Colonel Collins says he trained his soldiers in Iraq to use white phosphorus, which burns through flesh to the bone, in combat against enemy troops.

The admission by the former Special Air Service officer, revealed in his autobiography Rules of Engagement, contradicts claims by the Ministry of Defence that the chemical was only ever used to create a smokescreen.

Said Ekklesiaís Jonathan Bartley. ìThe contrasting records of the two men are there for all to see. It is a shame that Dr Kember has to put up with yet more misinformed vitriol after the hate mail his family received following untrue media reports that he and CPT had not expressed thanks to the soldiers who set them free ñ without the use of force.î

[Also on Ekklesia: Peace workers hold a key to Iraq solution, says think tank 17/04/06; Clarification sought from army chief on false Kember snub allegation 16/04/06; Critics of Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq accused of being ill-informed 16/04/06; Army chief spoke without knowledge on alleged Kember ingratitude -28/03/06; What Norman said - from Iraq captive Kember's BBC interview 15/04/06; Entombed Iraq captive Jim Loney talks of Easter Hope 15/04/06; Kember notes irony of non-violent release by soldiers 15/04/06; Kember still evaluating Christian peacemaker's role in Iraq 15/04/06; Christian peacemaker Norman Kember to give first major interview tomorrow 14/04/06; CPT in Iraq: What now? 04/04/06 - Peggy Gish reflects on the future of Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq. Briefing on media accusations against Christian Peacemaker Teams - detailed background; Contending the logic of violence - Ekklesia's Simon Barrow says that true Christian peacemaking cannot afford naivete]

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