That moral high ground.

603733_10200837417355233_1874374034_nI have changed my thinking since my last post, mostly because I have had many conversations with people who are smarter and more thoughtful than I am.

I’ve been reading, and talking, and watching and listening, and I have come to the conclusion that it simply makes no sense at all to kill as a punishment for killing.  I have come to realize that, once you take away the carefully crafted rhetoric about “moral imperatives” and “red lines” and “humanity”, you simply cannot justify the lobbing of missiles into a sovereign nation.

I was beginning to come to that conclusion after listening to friends who believe in peace.  I was brought even closer when I saw images of protestors marching against the upcoming attack.

But what really brought me to the realization that it would be entirely wrong for the US government to bomb Syria was the talk that I heard on the radio about the “moral high ground.”

The argument in favor of bombing went something like this: “The United States has always held the moral high ground against the slaughter of innocents. If we turn our backs on the use of chemical weapons, we will lose our right to lay claim to that high ground.”

And my reaction was something like this: “Say, WHAT?!”

My government has been using unmanned drones to drop bombs on suspected terrorists all over the Middle East.  Even when those suspects are sitting at local cafes.  Even when they are at home, surrounded by their families.  Even when they haven’t had any kind of a trial or even been arrested.

According to a study by Stanford and NY Universities,

“TBIJ reports that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562 – 3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474 – 881 were civilians, including 176 children. TBIJ reports that these strikes also injured an additional 1,228 – 1,362 individuals,” according to the Stanford/NYU study.

Based on interviews with witnesses, victims and experts, the report accuses the CIA of “double-striking” a target, moments after the initial hit, thereby killing first responders.

My government knows that it has killed nearly as many civilians than the admittedly horrifying chemical weapons attack committed by Bashar Al Assad.  And yet it tries to lay claim to the “moral high ground” in order to justify the use of Tomahawk Missiles in retaliation for the killing of civilians.

An attack in which there is no doubt at all that more civilians will be killed.

So I have come off the fence, and I have landed squarely on the side of peace.

I have written to my state Senators and Representatives as well as the White House.  I have expressed my opinion.

Next I think I need to get myself out onto those streets to protest what I see as an act that can absolutely lay claim to the moral low ground.


17 thoughts on “That moral high ground.

  1. Sigh. I read your last post on Syria and have been so tied up in my head that I couldn’t even comment. I’m also slowly coming to the same opinion, I think. Still, no option feels good, and that weighs on my heart.


    • I know.
      but I keep thinking about kids, and what we want them to decide and to do. We tell them that you can’t hit someone because he hit you. We tell them that it doesn’t matter who starts the fighting, it is the act of fighting that is inherently wrong.


  2. I was in a meeting today about child poverty. As we were wrapping up, a friend said that she ran into our local Congresswoman, Capito, who said her office has been inundated with calls about Syria. My friend noted how much better the world would be if people were calling Congress expressing the same passion about cuts to Head Start since so many children will be hurt by those. I love my friends,.


  3. Plus, evidence is mounting that the CW attacks in Syria were done (a) with chemicals we provided, and (b) by the “rebels” we’re supporting (in an attempt to get us to do exactly what we’re planning on doing). If that turns out to be true, it’s definitely Iraq all over again…


  4. For Syria I only see a grim outlook: at least ten more years of this, and maybe 20-30. If it happens, the ‘peace’ that follows will be fragile. Reconciliation–not even on the horizon just yet. And closer to home, things are not good. Consider Detroit, a city so close to us here in Canada it almost feels like a part of us. We can feel the pain even way out here in NL. But you are doing the right thing. We all need to join you.


    • I am not all sure that we are doing “the right thing”. What will be accomplished? What is the point? Chemical weapons are bad; but killing the first 100,000 civilians was bad, too.
      There is nothing to be gained in this endeavor. So damned sad.


      • My answer to the question is that the opposite of love is ‘absence of love’; apathy–the enabler of most evil. The US, which has a history of being a world leader in terms of coming to the aid of oppressed people is therefore left in a very difficult position now.
        Everyone, including me and the people in my country, Canada, has more-or-less stood by while Al-Assad, taking a cue from his dear old dad, has slaughtered his own people–probably 100,000 or more. Clearly something has to be done.
        But what and how?
        The US has tried hard to do this through the UN security council; to invoke a UN-led police action that may help to stabillize the area somewhat. Russia, whose involvement in the eras is very complex (it supplies the weapons and very much needs the money) has steadfastly blocked the US attempts at the UN. Sp now what.
        The US has decided then that what it may do is to take measires that will punish Al Assad’s regeime for going beyond what we loosely consider to be rules of war (And, no, the irony of the term is not lost on me). He is to be punished in such a way that he will think twice before sanctioning chemical weaapos attacks again.
        What an awful mess for everyone to be in. The people of the US, it’s government (I am sure) and indeed most of the people of the world do not want more war.
        But neither can we stand by. That is to be without love.
        Lord what a total mess we are all in.
        I know this. I am with you. I am totally onside with your position and will also do my little part to try and promote peace. Let’s hope others listen too.
        But as for the people in Syria, I am afraid the future is bleak. Very bleak. History will remember Al Assad as one of the bad ones and there will be many years of bad times ahead for the poor people of that country.


      • Thank you! Once again, by listening to smart, informed friends and acquaintances, I keep learning. The older I get, the more clear it is to me that there is almost never a simple “right” or “wrong”.
        Its so interesting to hear the point of view of a Canadian, as so many of my countrymen are simply jaded, tired and confused.
        As a teacher, I will continue to do my small part to simply teach peace.


      • But still the situation in Syria is so very unjust. The people in Syria had their own version of the “Arab Spring” last year and Al-Assed responded with a brutal massacre–he leveled an entire community just because people were calling for better, more open and transparent government. This was a lesson he learned from his father, who often did the same.

        The civil war there now will rage for a long time, regardless of what anyone does. Hatred is hatred and there are only several outcomes: (1) give them all guns and let them all kill one another. This just need to be said. It’s stupid and evil. I just wanted to get it off the table. (2) send over an armed force, what Obama calls “Boots on the ground.” This will NOT work either as both sides will see the ‘invaders’ as the enemy. (3) wait until the people decide they are tired of the killing–this will take years–and then put in place a peacekeeping force to contain the violence. This might work–it did in Northern Ireland. Here’s the rub: the peacekeepers have to stay there until the people who hate grow too old and tired to be effective. At that point the new generation might not feel the same hatred.Yes–this will take a whole generation but it is the price we have to pay for peace.

        I have often thought this:
        Right now, as I mentioned Russia is blocking the US attempts at establishing a peacekeeping force. I wonder if it would be best for all if some way could be found to convince both superpowers to excuse themselves from the UN security council for this matter only and let the remaining members decide. It is a very long shot but I believe that (1) the remaining members might find a way to establish an peacekeeping force and (2) that force might just have credibility with the Syrian people and lead to an early establishment of that uneasy peace we need.


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