Centuries ago Saint Augustine held out the ideal that faith should always be seeking understanding. War should be obliged to do the same. Like a lot of Christians, I’m trying to understand our President and his decision to attack Syria. Some random thoughts . . .
- What’s happening in Syria is awful, and I fully recognize it, but it’s been going on for a long time. Why now? Are we trying to change governments in Syria? Are we supporting the Syrian rebels? What is the outcome we’re trying to achieve? According to most theologians, a “just” war must include a clearly articulated criterion for victory. Why are we preparing a military strike now and not three months ago or six months ago?
- The use of chemical weapons is reprehensible, and I don’t think anyone would argue otherwise, but why are chemical weapons worse than air strikes, or the use of drones or the launching of cruise missles? Death is death. A casualty is a casualty. And we’re kidding ourselves if we think civilian casualties only happen with the use of chemical weapons.
- Is it the President’s intention to punish Syria? If so, are we now in the “global punishing” business? Isn’t that about as futile as being in the “spreading democracy” business? Or is the President going to make sure that the Assad regime will no longer be able to use chemical weapons again, or for that matter, enact any violence upon the people of Syria?
- Is it true that the President won’t make a decision to initiate a military strike on Syria until Congress returns from vacation? Really? We’re now engaging in war when it can be scheduled around Congressional vacations?
- Why hasn’t anyone said anything about the fact that our nation squandered the good will of the American people during the war in Iraq? Iraq was a war of choice and not necessity, and the reasons for going to war in Iraq were eventually proven to be fallacious. The problem with going to war for the wrong reason is that when the “right” reason comes along, America has no will to engage it.
- Is it futile to pray for peace or to factor faith into the equation of international relations? I don’t think so. My faith is moving me to pray for peace every day. How is it that the most religiously diverse country on the face of the planet finds itself in a perpetual state of war? Is war the new normal? If so, God have mercy on us all.
Take a Breath today. And pray that our President might Take a Breath, too. Faith should always be seeking understanding, and a nation considering going to war, or even engaging in a modest military action, should be required to do the same.