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Thursday, September 5, 2013

"You have heard it said, 'A WMD for a WMD,' but I say..."

New York Daily News photo
"Who came up with the logic that cruise missiles are more 'moral' than sarin gas, and that the perpetrators of one deserve regime change and the others medals of honor?"

-David Kreider, facebook

What's happening in Syria is horrifying beyond belief. An untold number of innocent men, women and children have been brutally killed by bombs, bullets and more recently by poisonous gas. The world is desperate to see something done.

But is punishing the Assad regime for its use of WMD's (in the form of canisters of sarin gas) by retaliating with the use of our own weapons of massive destruction (in the form bomb-laden missiles) really a viable and moral solution? In either case, the death and destruction are unimaginably hellish and horrific.

Can't we come up with a better response?

What if whole nations, along with religious groups and health and relief agencies around the world, were to rise up say, "Stop this barbaric bloodshed. Now. And wherever and whenever you implement a cease fire, we will respond with massive and immediate aid to rebuild your cities, provide aid for your wounded, and bring back refugees to their homeland. We will provide gainful employment for your people as you assist in this massive rebuilding effort. And we will support an all-out diplomatic effort to find a way to provide for the security and stability necessary to transition to a fairly elected government in which all Syrians can be a part."

In short, instead of bringing more destroyers and aircraft carriers to the Mediterranean, we could send cargo ships laden with food and building supplies to the region. On one condition. That all sides lay down their arms and stop their senseless slaughter now.

I can already hear people reacting to anything like the above as pitifully naive. But any attempt to throw more mortar at this problem is doomed to fail, and will make an already desperate crisis even worse. So if all else fails, which it already has, why not apply some of Jesus' wisdom about being Good Samaritans to our enemies rather than inflicting ever more punishment on them?

My friend Daryl Byler, newly appointed director of EMU's Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and recently returned from six years in Jordan as regional director for Mennonite Central Committee, told me this morning that he had an op-ed piece published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch today on this subject today. It's well worth reading.

And here's a link to an interesting blog piece on "What Would Elisha Do? #MennoNerds on Syria"

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