Diplomacy and action around Syria’s chemical weapons are very encouraging. But we must direct our focus onto tasks that are at least as urgent: First, urge elected officials to oppose US military action which is still a possibility. And more broadly, to advocate for the US to build international efforts to contain and end the fighting, deal with its impact on civilians, aid refugees, and tackle the roots of the conflict – tasks which are still virtually unaddressed by the US or the international community.
Despite the falloff in media and public attention, our role as citizens is at least as vital and compelling, and the issues we face at least as urgent and threatening as chemical weapons. Here are specific things we can ask of the US: a) use our diplomatic clout to get all external parties to end the shipment of arms to all sides; b) use the agreement on chemical weapons as a step toward bringing about a ceasefire; c) work on long-term solutions to the roots of the conflict and for a political agreement that is just and ends the war; d) change US budget priorities: the world spends just $1 on conflict prevention for every $1,885 it spends on military resources. As Mark Twain wrote, “when your only tool is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” (See LPF’s budget priorities activity for more on this key issue) and e) increase USA aid to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees to assist Syrian refugees.
With the International Day of Prayer for Peace (IDPP) on Sept. 21, this Sunday is a great time to offer or ask for prayers on Syria in church and share what people of faith can do (see LPF’s recent IDPP blog post).
As Christians, our advocacy flows from our commitment to active nonviolence, the Way of Jesus. It’s time to urge the US to show some imagination and not just fall into old habits of military action, but instead, take on the challenge of addressing the roots of the conflict in Syria that could lead to a genuine political solution.
Thanks to the ELCA for the excellent map.