Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle have issued statements in support of President Obama’s decision on Thursday to provide “limited” airstrikes on Iraq. However politically popular the decision may prove to be with the Capitol Hill crowd and conservatives in particular, does it follow that Christians should also support the bombing?
Some Christians, particularly on the left, are struggling with the strategy.
Pentagon and Army officials have indicated the “limited” approach announced by the White House is meant to serve as a deterrent and if the military advances by ISIS stop, then the bombing would also be discontinued. Early Friday U.S. fighter jets targeted and hit artillery supplies belonging to ISIS, an extremist Muslim group that has been responsible for thousands of deaths, most notably Christians.
Religious and political differences aside, it’s important to note that the last four presidents – beginning with President George H.W. Bush – have either attacked or invaded Iraq.
For me, this confirms the fact that regardless of religious convictions or pressure from religious groups, conservatives and liberal administrations alike have decided that military action in Iraq has been in the best interest of the United States. Yet some Christians on the left dispel that notion, saying such action should be avoided at all cost.
In a column that appeared in The Huffington Post in June of this year and quoting from his book The Uncommon Good, Jim Wallis of Sojourners advocated that the U.S. adopt a strategy of giving the enemy food and other necessities as opposed to dropping bombs.
“Rather than making our enemies hungrier or angrier, we should feed them. Instead of embracing policies that cause our enemies’ loved ones to die of thirst, we should give them something to drink. This is not naïve pacifism, but a shrewd way to turn the tables and change the situation.”
Most Christians may agree that Wallis’ recommendations are commendable. But they are hardly effective in dealing with terrorists who are considered “extreme” by extremist standards. ISIS has reacted to the U.S. airstrike by using women as human shields in hopes it will deter the attacks or serve as a propaganda tool if civilians are killed or wounded. But I hear little of those in oppostion to military action asking ISIS leaders to curtail their barbaric actions.
What ISIS is doing should be reason enough for Christians to support such an attack for the cause of protecting religious liberty.
Wallis, like others on the “progressive” side of Christianity, have long encouraged administrations to avoid military action at all cost. I reached out to Wallis on Friday for his reaction but was told he was traveling in South Africa and has yet to release a statement on today’s bombings.
During his weekly radio address on Sunday, Pope Francis mentioned that recent actions in Iraq have left him “in dismay and disbelief.” Although he did not specifcially express his support for the U.S. airstrikes, he seemed to demostrate his support for the action saying, “I thank those who, with courage, are bringing succour to these brothers and sisters, and I am confident that an effective political solution on both the international and the local levels may be found to stop these crimes and re-establish [the rule of] law.”
Foreign policy concerns already seem to be trumping religion on the left side of the aisle. For Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) to go against the leader of his party would be political suicide given one of his top priorities is to try and keep a Democratic controlled Senate after the November elections. In short, Reid is not going to move too far away from President Obama on military action in Iraq.
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