--Linda K. Williams, Church of the Brethren
War is morally wrong.
There it is: why I oppose the
States going to war against . Syria
I suppose I could bury that declaration somewhere several lines down in this essay, maybe after a list of grim statistics about the real cost of going to war these days. Something about the thousands of civilian deaths which always result from war. A 2011 report from
University’s Watson Institute for
International Studies estimates at least 132,000 civilians have died in the Iraq and wars alone. That’s a
powerful anti-war argument. Afghanistan
Or perhaps I could talk about just how much the
has spent on these two wars since 2001: $1.49 trillion dollars, according to
the latest figures from Congress and the budget office of the President.
Imagine what those funds could have been used for by Uncle Sam: education, health
care, housing, help for the poor, infrastructure. That’s a convincing anti-war stance. United States
I could attempt to refute the hawks who push for war, the earnest, breathless cases for attack made by President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, Speaker John Boehner and Senator John McCain. That bombing
will be “limited” to air strikes. That it won’t involve Syria boots on
the ground. That we must wage war as a nation to ensure the use of chemicals
weapons is swiftly punished by the international “civilized” community. U.S.
Has there ever really been any limited war? Is war somehow “cleaner”, “better” if it only kills and injures non-Americans? Is chemical warfare any more heinous than say, genocide or unmanned drone strikes or folks killed in the “collateral” damages of war—women, children, civilians in the wrong place when the bombs start dropping? That’s a compelling way to mute the drums of war now beating across
Or how about arguing against war by just naming out loud that term itself, “war”. Notice that all of the folks pushing for us to start hostilities don’t use the “war” word. Obama and company’s mantra is “military action”. They know Americans are exhausted from twelve years of continuous war making. That Americans are very skeptical about the efficacy of any war actually “working”. That Americans are burnt out from being the sole policeman on the world stage.
So have no doubt. If we and other nations attack
it will be an act of war, regardless of any euphemisms used to justify it. War is war is war. That’s a powerful denial
of going to war. Syria
But here’s my argument against this war, a case no one speaks of anymore, at least not our elected officials or the media. War itself is inherently immoral as a human act, always has been, always will be. We may think we are waging a “good war” and argue we do so to protect the innocent, prevent further attacks or topple some “evil” regime or person.
Yet war by its nature is always messy, bloody, violent, filled with death and suffering and unintended consequences. War takes down all who live in its path, the “guilty” and the innocent, the combatant and the bystander. War changes forever those who make war and those who experience war. Ask any veteran about war: they’ll tell you the truth about its chaos, how it forces women and men to do things they’d never think they could do. War represents the last desperate act of humanity. War denies God’s vision and hope for Creation: peace on earth, goodwill to all.
We may keep on returning to war as a species to solve our conflicts, but longevity and familiarity does not equal morality. War was wrong. War is wrong. War will always be wrong.
So let’s debate, yes. But this time, God help us to name the immorality of combat before once again unleashing the dogs of war.