We claim that President Bashar Assad’s regime is responsible for killing more than 1,429 Syrian civilians and military rebel personnel and that requires us to unleash an attack on the Syrian regime that’s bound to provoke a similar amount of casualties of innocent Syrian civilians as well as military personnel.
My concern is that we seem to be repeating the mistakes of recent years if we respond in such a hawkish way to the so-called “intelligence reports.” They just remind us of similar intelligence reports of weapons of mass destruction that led us to the death of thousands of Americans and many more innocent Iraqi civilians in recent years.
We refer to President Assad as being a thug and a murderer, but we may end up backing equally or probably worse thugs and murderers as the extremist Islamic faction of the Free Syrian Army that has been the real bulk of that rebel force.
We also have completely ignored a recent, well-documented Russian report accusing the rebels of firing a missile containing the nerve agent sarin at the town of Khan Al-Assal by an al Qaida-linked group called the Bashair al-Nasr Brigade, which caused the death and injury of over 100 innocent civilians and military personnel.
The most worrisome fact is that even if we give our so-called intelligence reports the benefit of the doubt and say, “well go ahead and unleash a precision missile attack,” then we have to take in consideration that our precision attacks in the past haven’t been as precise as we wanted. Point in fact is May 7, 1999, when we unleashed a similar precision attack that blew up the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, destroying their building and killing three non-belligerent civilian reporters who had taken refuge in their embassy thinking they were going to be safe.
I thank our president, who regardless of his personal opinion is willing to consult with our Congress. But it still doesn’t make any sense to give the people of Syria this bitter medicine as punishment for the killing of over 1,400 rebels and innocent civilians. Our medicine is bound to kill just as many or more military and innocent civilians.
I call upon the clergy and laity of Southeast Florida regardless of their position on this matter to pray for peace and to encourage our government to continue finding a peaceful alternative to assure that chemical weapons will not be used by either side in the Syrian conflict. I also encourage our members to contact their senators and representatives to do their upmost to make sure that our actions may serve to preserve peace and not exacerbate the drums of war that seem to have been sounding louder in our country.
The Right Reverend Leo Frade, Bishop of Southeast Florida,
The Episcopal Church, Miami