More violence should not be our response to atrocities in Syria

A man walks with a pair of children in hand hand through the rubble in Eastern Ghouta, Syria, in 2015 (Save the Children via AP, File)

On April 4, a chemical attack in Syria killed an estimated 100 individuals—including at least 10 children—and injured over 400 people. President Donald J. Trump, who previously argued against direct involvement in Syria, condemned these actions. On April 6, in what many are calling a surprising and confusing shift in foreign policy, he launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase. This marks the first direct U.S. attack against President Bashar al-Assad.

In defense of these strikes, President Trump argued that “it is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.” Many, however, are wondering if direct involvement in the Syrian maelstrom is the best response.

Piling violence on violence is not a strategy toward peace; it is a dangerous reflex that opens new vectors of chaos in Syria that could just prolong the suffering.

While images of the dead and injured in this part of the world may be disturbing, they should not always move policymakers to immediate action. Discernment is necessary to discover what compassion requires. Sometimes it requires attention to suffering while admitting our own powerlessness rather than a response that is not practically or morally defensible. Piling violence on violence is not a strategy toward peace; it is a dangerous reflex that opens new vectors of chaos in Syria that could just prolong and broaden the suffering.

There is no clear solution in Syria. In a joint statement released a day after the chemical attack, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo and Bishop Oscar Cantú condemned these attacks and suggested a starting point. They urged “the United States to work tirelessly with other governments to obtain a ceasefire, initiate serious negotiations, provide impartial humanitarian assistance, and encourage efforts to build an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities.” The bishops reiterated the words of Pope Francis, reminding us that while there is no easy solution in this part of the world, it is our duty as Christians to focus on “a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people.”
J Cosgrove
47 min 14 sec ago

Trump's missle raid on Syria was token. It was made on one military air base and only after warning that it was coming. This is hardly a minor let alone a major military intervention. It was more of a warning than anything.

Maybe the editors should be interested in the fake story on Russian intervention into the 2016 election which may have prevented a dialogue with Russia. Before this "fake news" story took off it looked like there could be a detente with Russia. Since then Russia has been the number one enemy in the News.

Sometimes violence is the only answer to violence. Weakness is often the encourager of violence at the beginning so that even more violence later on is needed. Look at Mosul. Look at what passivity or weaknesses brought there.

The lesson learned is that we should not ever repeat the foreign policy principles of the Obama administration.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

At Rome's Basilica of St. Bartholomew, a shrine to modern martyrs, Pope Francis presided over an evening prayer service April 22, honoring Christians killed under Nazism, communism, dictatorships and terrorism.
The conference brought together six lay people from different countries “to reflect on the post-synod apostolic exhortation that has aroused grave perplexities and widespread unease in numerous components of the Catholic world.”
Gerard O'ConnellApril 22, 2017
These photos, patches of uniforms and drawings create a piecemeal account of life at Dachau during and after the war.
Teresa DonnellanApril 21, 2017
Demonstrators march during a Feb. 25 rally organized by Catholics Against the Death Penalty in Southern California (CNS photo/Andrew Cullen, Reuters).
Christianity is not a relic laid in a museum; it is not a book entombed in an archive. It lives in the living people of God.
John T. Noonan, Jr.April 21, 2017