Another Case for Fruitless Action

Count me as singularly unimpressed with John Kerry’s pitch for military action. Nine points do not trump eight beatitudes.

The British pacifist Muriel Lester denounced the outbreak of that singularly hideous and immoral adventure known as the Great War. Her points are far more convincing:

“… cannibalism, chattel slavery, blood-feuds, and dueling … a daily crucifixion of Christ.”

Flag_of_SyriaMr Kerry wrings his hands over 1,429 Syrians killed without bullet wounds, shrapnel, or such. As if murder is any less dishonorable and cowardly if it happens by means of projectiles and propulsion technology. Arms dealers might have the same lament: why couldn’t Mr Assad have bought guns from us instead? And those non-combatants affected? Since when have the forces of war ever cared about medical assistance? The days of honorable warfare were certainly dead a century ago in Europe, and they were probably on life support for decades before that, if not centuries.

More than a thousand dead this week. What about the past few years? Mr Kerry needs to convince us all that this isn’t just more emotional manipulation disguised as moral outrage. It seems to me that there’s been a lot of cause for outrage. Why now? Get the airstrikes in well in advance of the 2014 elections?

Certainly, the tragedy in Syria demands action from the world. I wish there were a non-violent way to empty the country of every soul except the perpetrators. Let Mr Assad and his supporters try to create a self-enriching nation and culture without women, children, farmers, workers, tourists, or really anything human. Let the remnant wither, fade, starve, or repent. Let it be a Mordor without its slaves. For once, I would love to see criminals limp out of a fortress begging the world for mercy.

I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think we’re going to see the modern equivalent of blood-feuding and its inevitable face-saving spin to recruit yet more generations of Muslim activists and Western warmongers. A weird dance marathon with partners more alike than they would guess.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to Another Case for Fruitless Action

  1. John Mack says:

    Kerry proved himself not a diplomat with his screed. A diplomat is supposed to be able to condemn and express indignation without precluding negotiation and diplomatic solutions. Kerry’s statement left no room for Obama to back off.

    A pledge from Assad to not use these weapons, along with a denial of responsibility (whoever was responsible it was not Assad himself), a mutual condemnation of al Queda and jihadism, a pledge of Syrian cooperation (should Assad win the civil war) in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, and a condemnation of outside influence in Syria (meaning Qatar and its support of the jihadists) would have been a nice solution, probably amenable to the pope and Jordan, who want a diplomatic solution. I might throw in autonomy for the anti-jihadist Sunni Muslim Kurdish region similar to the autonomy the Kurds have in Iraq. Christians would be safe in the Kurdish region.

    When you have something on a bad guy you aim to get concessions from him. Punishment is non-productive except as a threat that can go unused if the concessions are worth it.

    A just war is not sufficient based solely on punishing a wrong done. You must first exhaust every other means besides retaliation. And you must consider the consequences, reaching a reasonable and evidenced certainty that the situation following your military action will be better than the current situation. Helping the jihadist rebels to succeed is not a better situation. They fully intend to slaughter Alawites, Christians and Kurds. Yes, I know that there are sincerely non-jihadists rebels, but the jihadist are the most ruthless, the best fighters, the best armed, and the best funded (from Qatar and Saudi Arabia) and they will prevail over the others (except in the Kurdish region).

    Extreme imprudence, Kerry and Obama.

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