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My Take on The Syrian Conflict

Last week in a ghastly attack on his own people, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons
which were responsible for killing over a thousand civilians. In this total were also included over 400 children.  I, like most of the world was aghast at what occurred.  I instantly thought of the innocent victims, their families, and country which has been steeped in civil war for nearly 3 years.

Our administration as of today has indicated that it would likely attack Syria in response to this atrocity.

With all of this talk of war I am personally very weary about entering another Middle Eastern conflict in a country where there are no good sides; only degrees of evil and less evil.  As I reflected more and more on this a question began to form in my mind, "What is the just response in this situation?"  Before I share my opinion let me first list the 4 conditions of the Catholic Church's just war teaching since I believe they are relevant in this case:

  1. The damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain.
  2. All other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective.
  3. There must be serious prospects of success.
  4. The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.  (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2309)
It is the last two conditions which cause me the greatest concern. since there is no prospect of an overwhelming success and there is no guarantee that a military strike might improve the situation. Does our attacking several targets lessen the chance of another chemical attack?   Will our attack be able to expedite the end of the civil war?  Will our attack improve the situation on the ground?

The answers to these questions are doubtful at this time. Like all conflicts in this region the answers are always complicated.  Judging by the history of this volatile region there are no clear winners or losers. 

My response at this time is that we don't respond. The situation is far too fluent.  The worst thing we can do is execute some haphazard military response and ignite an even greater war. If there is anything that we have learned is that history has not been kind to us in this part of the world.  We need to learn, we need to be careful, we need to be prudent.  The stakes are too high.  Perhaps the most just response would be not to make a terrible situation even worse.


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