There is something chillingly on-target about the words of 2 Samuel 11:1 ("In the spring of the year, when kings go forth to war"). But that pattern is hardly a prescription for action today. Some experts are suggesting weather-related strategies that would get a U.S.-led coalition in and out of Iraq before the end of April. Moral prescriptions for military action are harder to come by than climatological ones.

In a previous editorial ("Bully Culprit," Oct. 7, 2002), we argued that the high probability of an imminent and serious attack could meet the "just cause" criterion of just-war thinking. And if strong evidence of such an attack came into American hands, a pre-emptive attack could be an act of Christian love. We did not argue that it was time to go to war with Iraq (although some correspondents thought we did).

At this writing, we are waiting for the Secretary of State to deliver the intelligence that would make a compelling case for a coalition to disarm Iraq by force. By the time you read this, you will have had the chance to judge for yourself whether Colin Powell has made a persuasive case. (At press time, our unscientific online poll showed that 61 percent said an attack was already justified, while 36 percent believed that an attack was not yet justified.)

Dangerous encouragement

Regardless of our views on this particular conflict, the Christian community has plenty to motivate it into action.

The witness of humanitarian service should be near the top of our agenda. At the end of January, a group of key relief agencies (many of whose names appear regularly in our pages) convened in the Middle East to prepare for a flood of refugees from Iraq. The head of one of the most Middle East-savvy of these agencies told Christianity ...

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