The Methodist Church in Britain has said that on the fifth anniversary of the US and UK-led invasion of Iraq, governments must learn that a military response that seeks to exert control can easily bring further chaos.
Anthea Cox, Methodist Co-ordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice declared: “The war in Iraq has been far more costly in terms of lives lost than anyone could have imagined. We are acutely aware of the appalling death toll of Iraqi civilians as the country struggles to contain the violence."
She continued: "We are mindful of British troops currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Chaplains who serve alongside them. We are aware of the costly service that they undertake. Our hearts go out to all families who have lost loved ones in the past five years."
“The kidnapping and tragic death of Archbishop Rahho illustrates the extreme danger faced by Christians and other minorities in Iraq today. We are enormously concerned for the Iraqi Christian community and will continue to uphold them in our prayers," Ms Cox said.
“Following the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq many more people now question whether the invasion was justified and whether this was the only course open to us. It is right that such questions should still be asked today."
"Iraq has shown us that a military response that seeks to exert control can easily bring further chaos. We need to learn lessons regarding the role of diplomacy, the relationship between the intelligence services and government policy-making and the importance of regional alliances in addressing conflict and post-conflict reconstruction."
Concluded Ms Cox: “The UK must continue to work with the people of Iraq and offer support. We would ask those with influence to consider how regional powers might be brought together to work on solutions and how to provide security for minorities. We also need to consider how external powers can best help to foster national reconciliation and strengthen political institutions in Iraq.”
Deep questions are also being raised within the churches about the UK's detention policy in the wake of the Iraq war, with accusations and court cases in train abut serious abuses.
These concerns are likely to be put to Gordon Brown for consideration after Easter.