BY JOE JENKINS
IN THE WEEK that the United Nations attempted to find a last-ditch diplomatic solution to avert war with Saddam Hussein, Cardinal Basil Hume has written to Tony Blair to urge him to help to bring about a peaceful settlement of the mounting crisis in the Gulf.
In the letter, the Cardinal echoed the words of many Anglican bishops and other religious leaders and organi,,ations in Britain who have called for Mr Blair and President Clinton to try to avoid the military option in ensuring that Iraq allows UN weapons inspectors to carry out their duties.
Also this week, diocesan Justice and Peace groups in England and Wales joined Pax Christi, the National Peace Council, the United Nations Association and others in a statement saying: "We categorically oppose a military attack on both ethical and practical grounds." The groups argue that "ordinary people" will be the victims °fatly attack and point to UN figures claiming half a million Iraqi children have died as a result of economic sanctions.
"While condemning Iraq's non-compliance with UN resolutions we hope humanitarian thinking will prevail," said Charlie Borchelt, Chairman of the National Justice and Peace Liaison Committee.
US Defence Secretary William Cohen recently told reporters: "I don't think anyone believes the military option is the best option. But it may be the only option." The master attack plan for the strikes is likely initially to involve deployment of precision munitions such as Tomahawk cruise missiles, air-toground missiles and bombs dropped from F-117 Stealth aircraft.