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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Count the Cost in Syria

Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace.  Luke 14: 31 – 32

I know that Jesus gave this illustration as a parabolic teaching about the cost of discipleship, but I think there is much to learn from its surface level meaning – especially considering current events.

Our nation is poised at the brink of yet another war.  President Obama believes that the United States must use its military to intervene in the Syrian crisis, but he has called for Congress to give approval for this intervention.  Before we launch any missile strikes and before we put any boots on the ground (because the one will lead inevitably to the other…) we must count the cost.

Fiscally this will be expensive.  Can we afford it?  We’re only just now beginning to claw our way out of the hole we dug with two costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our economy is fragile, some would say already broken. Can we afford another war?  I do not think we can.  Not while there are so many other pressing concerns.  How is that we always seem to find money for war and killing people but there’s never enough money for health care or education? 

But there are other costs besides the fiscal.  Morally this will be costly as well. 

I am a pacifist.  I do not believe that war is ever justified.  But even if one holds to the “just war” theory – there is no justification for military intervention.  Going to war should be the last and final option.  Not the first and only. 

We have a long history of thinking that we can solve these sorts of crisis by dropping bombs or firing missiles.  We also have a long history of not learning that this has never solved the problems – only exacerbated them.  We bomb the crap out of it, and then spend years afterward trying to deal with the “unexpected” consequences. 

Before we do this we must count the cost.  Can we afford it?  We may have the world’s largest (I will not use the word “greatest”) military.  We may have high-tech weaponry.  We may have numerical and tactical advantage – but can we afford it?

Much of the world already sees the United States as a military thug, constantly invading country after country.  Do we want to continue to perpetuate that impression?

Is it worth it?

Even if we “win” against Bashar Assad, we still lose… 

We must count the cost.

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