Virtually every non-political organization in the Middle East is pleading against military intervention. The Orthodox Patriarch of Damascus, the Jesuits in Syria, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Melkite Patriarch in Syria, the Copts (who are facing extermination in Egypt from US-supported regime change), and the Armenians are all saying to President Obama “do not send attack missiles into our country.” In a magazine interview, Trappist nuns in Aleppo describe the real situation in their country: “All has been destroyed: a nation destroyed, generations of young people exterminated, children growing up wielding weapons, women winding up alone and targeted by various types of violence. The people are straining their eyes and ears in front of the television: all they’re waiting for is a word from Obama! … Will they make us breathe the toxic gases of the depots they hit, tomorrow, so as to punish us for the gases we have already breathed in? …It has become too easy to pass lies off as noble gestures, to pass ruthless self-interest off as a search for justice, to pass the need to appear [strong] and to wield power off as a “moral responsibility not to look away…”
Has our military intervention in the Middle East ever yielded any measure of peace proportionate to the chaos and destruction, and the long-term political instability, of war? I was talking to a group of US Marines on Sunday, who shook their heads when I asked what they thought of a military attack on Syria. “Let’s just hope Congress persuades him against it,” one said.
Few understand the local people and politics better than non-governmental aid agencies, and few have as much experience and credibility as Caritas International. “Scaling up military intervention by foreign powers will simply widen the war and increase the suffering,” Caritas Secretary General Michel Roy recently said. “The last decade bears witness to the tragic consequences of military intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. Caritas believes that the only humanitarian solution is a negotiated one.”
Pope Francis agrees, and himself is pleading with President Obama to negotiate with rather than to bomb Syria. He has asked us all to fast on Saturday, with heartfelt prayers to God, that our government does the right thing. The American Bishops’ Conference (on their website) has given more specific guidance on Saturday’s day of prayer for peace in Syria.
Must we attack in order to preserve our “credibility?” President Obama said we must attack Syria in response to the Sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of Syrian children. If he were truly concerned about the lives of children, he would sign an executive order tomorrow banning abortion in this country. Then, perhaps, America would begin to regain some of the credibility we once had before God and men.