Tag Archives: Syria

VIDEO: “How does this end?” questions military intervention

from Brave New Films

Since 1980, we have militarily intervened at least 35 times in more than 27 countries. We keep bombing, we continue spending trillions of dollars, but we’re no safer as a result…

VIDEO: The Church and war, a look at the “humanitarian intervention” norm

The following video is from Rome Reports.

IRAQ-SYRIA: The U.S. and ISIS

by Stephen Zunes
in The Huffington Post

n-US-AIRSTRIKE-large570

At the start of classes one year ago, I was having to explain to my students why the United States appeared to be on the verge of going to war against the Syrian government. At the beginning of this semester, exactly one year later, I’m having to explain to my students why the United States may be on the verge of going to war against Syrian rebels.

It is not surprising, therefore, that while the horrors unleashed by forces of the so-called Islamic State are all-too-real, there is skepticism regarding the use of military force.

Already U.S. planes and missiles have been attacking ISIS forces in northern Iraq. Given the real threat of a heightened genocidal campaign against Yazidis and other minorities and the risks of ISIS control expanding into the Kurdish region, even some of those normally averse to unilateral U.S. military intervention abroad were willing to acknowledge it may have been the least bad option.

Within days, however, there were already indications of “mission creep,” as what had been officially declared an exclusively defensive mission turned offensive when the United States provided air support for Kurdish and Iraqi forces, which seized the Mosul Dam from ISIS forces.

Even if one can make a convincing strategic case for such a military operation, the failure of President Obama to go before Congress for authorization of this renewed military intervention in Iraq is extremely disturbing…

Read the rest of this article by clicking here.

9/11: A call to prayer and peacemaking

Jim Hugby Jim Hug S.J.

A flurry of conflicting realities converged on me this morning in a way I found challenging:

 

sept_11_web

  • The Gospel at liturgy happened to be Luke 6:27-38: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you… Turn the other cheek…. Then you will be children of the Most High, for God is kind even to the ungrateful and the wicked.”
  • President Obama addressed our Christian nation last evening promising to “degrade and destroy” ISIS in Iraq and Syria and anywhere they go.
  • This military effort is in part to protect the vulnerable Iraqis that we pray for every day here at Mass since the Adrian Dominican community where I worship has Iraqi sisters who have had to flee Mosul and are with their families among the displaced and desperate. They wrote to us just a few days ago complaining that “our cries are ignored, and the world turns a blind eye to our sufferings.”
  • Some argue that bombing ISIS and other such groups only helps their recruitment. Others insist Obama has shown weakness and lack of leadership by not acting militarily sooner and more forcefully – thereby encouraging terrorism.  Still others remind us of our responsibility to protect the vulnerable.
  • On this 13th anniversary of 9-11-2001, NPR aired two short segments from Story Corps in which individuals who lost loved ones in the Twin Towers in NY remembered their loved ones with heartrending words.
  • On this day, 9-11, in 1941, ground was broken in Northern Virginia for the building of the Pentagon.
  • Someone left me a quotation in the Missal today that leapt off the page: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.  This world in arms is not spending money alone.  It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children…. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense.  Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” ~President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953
  • Pax Christi regions across the U.S. are launching a campaign soon with an ad in NCR declaring that “it’s time for the Catholic Church to reject ‘just war’ as inconsistent with the teaching and example of Jesus and to become a Just Peace Church.”
  • A committed intentional Eucharistic community that I have been associated with for decades has had a long debate about whether it could sign on to that ad – and could not reach consensus.

We as a Church community and as a national community are deeply divided over how to respond to violence and injustice and how best to work for peace. Respectful and probing public discussion could certainly help us move forward a little.  The path will inevitably be long and difficult.

I hope, though – and believe – that at this time we should all be able to agree on the importance of investing more of our resources and energies in new and creative approaches to large-scale peacemaking.  And join in prayer for peace for all peoples, bringing resurrection from our global cross of iron.

IRAQ: Needed – An international strategy in Iraq

by David Cortwright, God’s Politics Blog

IraqCrisis-smallThe crisis in Iraq poses two challenges — a humanitarian effort to rescue persecuted minorities, and a security mission to suppress the extremist threat posed by the forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The U.S. is right to play a leading role in aiding the Yazidis, Christians, and other threatened minorities in Iraq. The immediate threat against the Yazidis has eased, but minority groups in the region remain endangered by violent extremism. The Obama administration should work through the United Nations to turn this into a genuine international rescue effort. The greater the degree of international participation and support for the aid mission, the more beneficial and legitimate it will be for the recipients.

The U.S. is also right to call attention to the threat posed by ISIS, but we need to do more to mobilize international pressure against the group. The Islamic State is in many respects more dangerous than al Qaeda. It has conquered Mosul and other major cities, taken control of dams and oil facilities, and is steadily expanding its sphere of influence in Syria and Iraq. It has formed a terrorist army with an estimated 10,000 fighters and is now armed with tanks and advanced U.S. weapons stolen from the Iraqi army. The group poses a significant threat to the security of the region and the world.

The Obama administration does not appear to have a coherent strategy for countering the Islamic State and has made no effort to organize effective international cooperation in this effort through the United Nations…

Click here to read this entire article.

REFLECTION: Making bad situations worse in the Middle East

Tony Maglianoby Tony Magliano

The heart wrenching tragedies throughout the Middle East are not the United States’ fault, that is, at least not entirely.

The fact that many Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims distrust each other, that the Allies established artificial national boundaries to suite their interests after World War I, and that ruthless dictators past and present have often oppressed their people are major reasons why much of the Middle East is broken and bleeding.  

But the U.S. has made several bad situations in the Middle East far worse.

Iraqi sisters look over the damage at a church in northern Iraq.

Iraqi sisters look over the damage at a church in northern Iraq.

In Egypt, according to the Congressional Research Service, since 1987 the U.S. has given that nation $1.3 billion per year in military aid despite the fact that it was long ruled by the dictator Hosni Mubarak.  

Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, its refusal to allow subjugated Palestinians to form an independent nation, and the strangling blockade and brutal invasion of Gaza would not be possible without the approximate $3 billion in annual American aid and the United States’ refusal to demand that Israel reverse course here.

While it is a sad truth that under the dictator Saddam Hussein many Iraqis suffered, it is an even sadder truth that the 2003 U.S. led invasion of Iraq, caused even greater suffering to countless Iraqis.

After nearly nine years of war, hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi children, women and men are dead, over 4,480 American troops were killed, and Iraq overall is in a far worse state.

Furthermore, the U.S. war with Iraq unleashed deadly Islamist attacks upon thousands of Iraqi Christians.

In a CBS 60 Minutes segment, Rev. Andrew White, an Anglican priest who has a long history of ministry in Iraq, said the situation there was clearly worse for Christians than under the Saddam Hussein regime.

And according to a Fox News report earlier this year, Fr. White said that in the past five years 1,096 of his own parishioners were killed.

He said that out of the 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq in 2003, only around 200,000 remain.

And now with the Islamic State controlling a large part of Iraq, the remaining Christian population is suffering even worse.

There can be no doubt that the U.S. invasion of Iraq made a bad situation far worse. 

Please help our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ by giving a generous donation to Catholic Near East Welfare Association (www.cnewa.org).  

And urge your congressional delegation and President Obama (www.whitehouse.gov) to grant emergency asylum to at least 300,000 Christians and other minorities fleeing the barbarism of the Islamic State. Yes, this would be a major undertaking, but the U.S. is capable of doing it. It’s mostly just a matter of will – good will.

To its credit, tiny Lebanon, with a population of approximately 6 million people, has according the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, taken in well over 1 million mostly Syrian and Iraqi refugees and asylum-seekers – with over 500,000 more expected by year’s end. That would be equivalent to the U.S. taking in over 50 million refugees and asylum-seekers.

Three years ago, the U.S. led an aerial attack against the regime of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi leaving that nation awash in weapons which continue to help fuel the warring militias that have since been unleashed.

While U.S. bombing helped end Gaddafi’s brutal reign, it didn’t stop the suffering of the Libyan people.

Bombs kill. They do not address the root-causes of conflict. Rather, they perpetuate the cycle of violence. Knowing that full well, and in response to President Barack Obama’s threats to bomb Syria last year, Pope Francis called on people of faith to observe Sept. 7, 2013 as a day of prayer and fasting.

On that day the Holy Father said to over 100,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, and to all of us, “Forgiveness, dialogue, reconciliation – these are the words of peace, in beloved Syria, in the Middle East, in all the world!”

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. Please contact your diocesan newspaper and request that they carry Tony’s column. Tony is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings about Catholic social teaching. His keynote address, “Advancing the Kingdom of God in the 21st Century,” has been well received by diocesan gatherings from Salt Lake City to Baltimore. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.

SYRIA: Pax Christi International calls for action to stop arms deliveries to Syria

pcilogonewfrom Pax Christi International

The tragedy of war and the horrendous suffering of the Syrian people continue without respite. In a recent statement, Pax Christi International expressed its belief that this armed confrontation – which continues to destabilize the region affecting mostly civilians – can be stopped if the international community focuses on promoting serious political negotiations and discourages violence in all its forms.

International actors – including governments – are fuelling the armed conflict by supplying or financing weapons and ammunitions, training combatants and even sending military contingents to one or more sides. Some think-tanks have made efforts to document arms transfers but, in general, there is a serious lack of accountability in this regard. The European Union imposed an arms embargo on the Syrian government that lasted for only a few months. Arms transfers have continued throughout the war with levels of international involvement that suggest a “proxy war” in Syria. This international involvement has also created frequent deadlocks in UN Security Council debates on issues regarding Syria.

Pax Christi International does not believe that there is a military solution to the Syrian conflict – on the contrary, its ramifications are becoming more and more deadly for the region. The international community, especially state actors directly or indirectly providing military support to the parties in conflict, should redirect their efforts and launch immediately a bold diplomatic initiative to facilitate a negotiated solution. The international engagement that led to the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons was a positive effort and shows that effective collaborative action is possible…

Click here to read the call for action.