Syria: Criteria for ‘just war’ not met, Southern Baptist ethicists say

Meredith Flynn —  September 10, 2013
President Barack Obama meets with members of Congress to discuss Syria in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Sept. 3. White House photo by Pete Souza.

President Barack Obama meets with members of Congress to discuss Syria in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Sept. 3. White House photo by Pete Souza

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

(From Baptist Press) President Barack Obama is poised to address the nation tonight about why he believes U.S. forces should intervene in Syria, currently entrenched in a civil war that has reportedly killed more than 100,000 people since 2011. The President’s appeal to the public and to U.S. lawmakers (expected to vote on military action as early as Wednesday) is primarily the result of a chemical assault on civilians that U.S. intelligence has linked to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. The gas attack August 21 killed more than 1,400 people.

“This attack is an assault on human dignity. It also presents a serious danger to our national security,” Obama said late last month.

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, agreed in a recent Religion News Service article that Assad’s regime is “lawless and tyrranical” and that there is just cause for war.

“That said, there are other principles missing here, both to justify action morally and to justify it prudentially,” Moore added. He used points from just war theory, which dates back to the fourth century, to support his position against U.S. intervention in Syria.

Read more about the just war ethic at BPNews.net.

“I do not see, from President Obama, a reasonable opportunity to prevail, or even a definition of what prevailaing would mean.

“Regime change is not the point of this action, and even if it were, we don’t yet know who the good guys are. Replacing one set of terrorists with another does not bring about justice or peace.”

Daniel Heimbach, a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, also disagrees with the President’s plan, but said the U.S. lacks a basis for intervening “in the internal affairs of a distinctly sovereign and separate state.”

He also noted, “The meaning and interpretation of a just cause for war (in a just war ethic) requires the nation being attacked (Syria) to have done, or to be doing, or to be moving toward doing some terrible wrong toward the attacking nation (United States) – not merely doing something bad within their own borders against their own people.”

The U.S. Senate may vote on Obama’s proposal for action against Syria as early as Wednesday of this week, and the House could consider it next week, according to Fox News.

Baptist aid organization helps Syrian refugees

Southern Baptist relief efforts are touching lives in significant ways as an estimated 2 million refugees have fled Syria for neighboring countries. BGR photo

Southern Baptist relief efforts are touching lives in significant ways as an estimated 2 million refugees have fled Syria for neighboring countries. BGR photo

(From Baptist Global Response) The civil war in Syria has displaced more than 5 million people either outside or inside the country, said Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response (BGR).

“The majority of Syrian refugees are women and children and a few older men,” Palmer said. “Husbands, fathers, brothers and uncles stayed behind to protect their precious resources – unfortunately, many times in vain. They were so thankful for the small amount of help we gave them. We promised we would be back the following week with more.”

For more than a year, BGR has assisted the refugees through emergency food packets, hygiene kits, basic shelter materials and some medicines.

While an estimated 2 million refugees have fled Syria for neighboring countries, the prospect of Western powers entering the conflict has dramatically increased the outflow in recent days, Palmer noted.

Americans place terrorism prevention high on list of national priorities
A new survey by Barna released just before the 12th anniversary of the September 11 attacks found a high majority of Americans believe preventing terrorism is as important or more important than healthcare, the break-up of the family, education, unemployment, and immigration.

The survey also found members of the millennial generation, who were children and teens on 9/11, “are among the most likely to prioritize preventing terrorism above other social concerns.”

For more Barna findings, including a comparison of the emotions people associate with 9/11 and the recent Boston Marathon bombings, go to Barna.org.

 

Meredith Flynn

Posts

Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.