As a pacifist, I don’t want to see a military intervention in Syria. And, as a pacifist, I’m accustomed to having my opinions on these matters dismissed. So I file away my personal beliefs, and consider the situation from those that are so-called “realistic.”
So here’s what’s happening in the real world. There has been a civil war in Syria for several years now, and hundreds of thousands of people have been killed. As if this is not enough of a tragedy, the ruling dictator, Bashar al-Assad, poisoned thousands of his own people with sarin gas, killing hundreds of children in the process.
I’m not in favor of this. Nothing I say at any point should be interpreted as me thinking the deaths of thousands of people is a good thing. I am especially creeped out by the prospect of poison gas (not that getting shot is so much fun, either).
Just because Assad is bad doesn’t mean that the people fighting against him are good. In fact, many of them have ties to Al Qaeda. According to The New York Times, there are a whole mess of different factions. Here’s what I think is the key quote: “Mr. Kerry said that there were 70,000 to 100,000 ‘oppositionists.’ Of these, he said, some 15 percent to 20 percent were ‘bad guys’ or extremists.”
Maybe that doesn’t sound like a large percentage to you. It is, however, a larger proportional piece of the pie than will vote in the New York City primary on Tuesday. Fifteen to twenty percent is enough to distort democracy, especially when there is shooting.
So it’s not in our interests to support Assad. It’s not necessarily in our interests to support the rebels. What do we do?
The arguments being made before Congress by the Obama administration stress that it is not their intent to topple Assad, just weaken him. I’m not sure that’s a good solution, and I think the problem is that they are thinking about how to use the military to fix things. When you have a hammer, every problem is a nail. When you have the largest military force on the planet, every problem requires a military solution.
Is there another way to destroy the chemical weapons without sending in armed forces? I, for one, think we should send in James Bond. He could blow up the stuff and still find the hippest bar in Damascus.
(And I don’t literally mean “blowing up.” That would probably be a bad idea, even if it looks great in the movie version. He should find a way to destroy stuff without endangering everyone in the vicinity.)
This is not a solution that I expect other pacifists to support. If pressed, I would probably agree that relying on fictional characters to solve our problems doesn’t really work. However, my point stands that there are other ways to approach the problem, and considering those ways may suggest opportunities that don’t involve bombings.
For once, I find myself on the same side of an issue as the Pope. And I’m okay with that, because this Pope seems more open to those with whom the Catholic Church has traditionally disagreed than many of his predecessors.
I eagerly await the support of those Catholic elected officials, who claim they must oppose abortion and birth control and marriage equality because it is what their faith requires and they are men (and women) of faith. Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio — I’m looking at you.
Media Goddess Martha Thomases thinks maybe Harry Potter would be a better fictional character to get rid of sarin gas.