What I would do about Syria? What would you do about Syria? What constitutes the basis for a "just" war? Is there such a thing? I went to three sources for advice. The first source is the admonition of Jesus Christ according to St. Matthew:
King James Version
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Being only humans and most of the time unable to act coherently as an entire group we need to find some common ground on how to counter unjust aggression that would affect not only ourselves but that of our elders and our progeny. Enlightened God fearing people of all persuasions and especially Christians have been arguing about where the "red line" should be drawn for thousands of years.
The following list is a combined summary of what St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in regard to the limits of a "just war" as I understand them to be:
(1) Just cause. The war must confront an unquestioned danger. The damage inflicted by the aggressor or the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave and certain. Syria has not been an aggressor towards the United States or its allies to the extent that war would be justified.
(2) Proper authority. The legitimate authority must declare the war and must be acting on behalf of the people. The majority of the American people according to current polls do not want war. As far as the injustice occurring within the borders of Syria is concerned I think we should first seek remedies for the injustices occurring within the borders of our own country.
(3) Right Intentions. The reasons for declaring the war must actually be the objectives, not a masking of ulterior motives. A contractual arrangement like Poland had with England before World War II or that the U.S. currently has with Israel would be considered legitimate reasons but the U.S. has no other such contractual arrangements in the Middle East that I know of except with Turkey through NATO. It is the "ulterior motives" that I worry about a la the Military Industrial Complex.
(4) Last resort. All reasonable peaceful alternatives must have been exhausted or have been deemed impractical or ineffective. The contentious parties must strive to resolve their differences peacefully before engaging in war, e.g. through diplomacy, negotiation, mediation, embargoes and yes, even bribes perhaps as a temporary measure if it would save lives and protect the innocent from further harm.
(5) Proportionality. The good that is achieved by waging war must not be outweighed by the harm. What good is it to wage war if it leaves the country in total devastation with no one really being the winner? Look at Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Egypt. WHAT good was there in that?
(6) Probability of success — The achievement of the war's purpose must have a reasonable chance of success. Look at what happened in Iraq after one trillion dollars were spent and so many lives were lost. Is George Bush's phallus any bigger? Was the mission really accomplished?
(7) Discrimination — Armed forces ought to fight armed forces, and should strive not to harm non-combatants purposefully. Moreover, armed forces should not wantonly destroy the enemy's countryside, cities, or economy simply for the sake of punishment, retaliation or vengeance.
(8) Due proportion — Combatants must use only those means necessary to achieve their objectives. For example, no one needs to use guided missiles to settle a territorial fishing dispute or water rights. Due proportion also involves mercy towards civilians in general, towards combatants when the resistance stops (as in the case of surrender and prisoners of war), and towards all parties when the war is finished. Remember Abu Ghraib?
In my opinion (pragmatically and rationally speaking, not emotionally) self determination issues and human rights struggles are an internal issues and not a legitimate reason to attack another nation.
Conclusion. The United States should not bomb, invade, or declare war on Syria at this time. This thing will come to a natural end by itself, God willing. Having said that I think we should follow the lead of the minutemen of 1776 and keep our destroyers close, gassed up and ready to toss a few tomahawks at either Syria or Iran if they step any further out of line towards Israel or Turkey. I also believe we should urge Benjamin Netanyahu to cooperate because if Israel puts anymore settlements on the West Bank right now, I believe Israel will have broken the spirit of the contract. He must fight the temptation to provoke an attack on Israel that might draw the U.S. and its allies into an unending maelstrom. I believe that President Obama is fully aware of all of the above and I also believe that so far he has been doing the right thing. I pray every day for him, his family, and all of the intelligent and well meaning members of congress that God's will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Amen.
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