So here is an interesting test of the sincerity of the Peace and justice Catholics. Their candidate President Obama, liberal Democrat, supported by the likes of all kinds of peace-loving Catholics now wants to bomb Syria, in response to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war. Now let’s stipulate from the outset Assad is a tyrant who in a just world would be tried as a war criminal. Nonetheless the rebels fighting against him are also a vile lot, as they persecute Christians, attack Churches and execute prisoners as reported here , here , and here . It is readily apparent that there are many uncertainties involved, Will supporting the rebels lead to more peace and less death in the region? Would the rebels be less inclined to use poison gas if they get control of Assad’s stores? Will American missiles push Assad into more dangerous and reckless behavior? Is there any way in principle to know the answers to these questions? Has the administration attempted to answer them? It seems at this point they have not.
We again note that the Bishops and Pope do not have the ultimate ability to call a war certainly just or unjust, as this requires information that is not readily available to them, so the justness of the military intervention in Syria is not the central issue. The wisdom of such an intervention is certainly not obvious given the uncertainties mentioned above, and to be honest unless the administration had information to answer these questions it is not sharing with the public, attacking Syria would seem to violate at least one of the just war criteria, specifically there is no evidence that
“The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.”
Has the administration produced evidence that the use of arms would not produce evils graver than the evil to be eliminated? In fact, what precise evil is the administration aiming to eliminate anyway? Obama has said regime change is not the goal, and destroying the weapons themselves is not the goal as there are military limitations on the ability to do this, not the least of which are the risks to the civilian population, as reported by the BBC here .
Nonetheless, It is not my main point to argue for or against the intervention. If I was a congressman weighing congressional authorization for the use of force I would vote “no”, if the last 12 years have taught us anything it should be that military intervention in the Middle East is fraught with peril and unknown consequences. Still this is not the central “Catholic” issue. My specifically “Catholic” question is to how consistent and sincere are the usual concerns of the peace and justice crowd in the Catholic Church. They usually decry war, “war no more” they say, Ok I get it… So my question for the peace and justice Catholics is will you decry this militaristic action that may cause more harm than good? I mean this is your guy in power, you helped elect him, Should you bear no responsibility for what he does? Will there be the same kind of cries for peace, etc when it’s a liberal Democrat in the white house? Just wondering?
Military intervention in this situation would seem to at least be foolish, has no specific goal and may end up causing worse evils. It would seem easy to oppose, so where is the Catholic left?
In the meantime lets ask St Ephrem the Syrian for God’s mercy on that tortured land
St. Ephrem pray for us!