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Houston had a major problem with mosquitoes in the 1950s. The city's mosquito control district told the public that repellent sprays could not control the mosquito population. Instead, the office said Houston's only recourse was to drain its low-lying areas of water that were serving as mosquito breeding grounds.

"I was in Houston last week and didn't see one solitary mosquito, which is amazing if you knew how Houston was," says Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. "Like mosquitoes, if you're going to deal with terrorists you can't just swat them or use insect repellent. You have to drain the swamp. Saddam Hussein is one of the major swamps. The U.S. would be doing the world a favor and acting in the best interest of future citizens of the U.S. by removing Saddam from power."

But would it be ethical?

Inside Washington, D.C., and around the world, a pre-emptive strike on Iraq has been hotly debated. Saying that Hussein poses a threat to U.S. national security and peace in the region, some members of the Bush administration believe that attacking Iraq is necessary to force a "regime change." This week, both Pakistan and Russia have condemned the U.S. plans. The World Council of Churches last week urged the Bush administration to halt its "rush to war" in favor of diplomatic measures.

Christianity Today contacted several Christian leaders to ask what circumstances would make a pre-emptive strike on Iraq the moral option. Most of those interviewed applied just-war theory to determine the situation's morality. However, two sources who do not subscribe to the theory said any preemptive attack ...

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September 2002

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