I normally don’t post on political questions, not because I don’t have political ideas (I do; though admittedly less than when I was a political junkie living in DC) but rather because, once admitted, the political can easily swamp everything else, especially among academics, in a phenomenon which may be called la trahison des clercs.
However, basically because I am tired of each morning opening up the WSJ and reading its opinion pieces beating the drums for war, I wish to state my dissent.
My reasoning, not-original, in a nutshell is this. To attack Syria would be an act of war. War is justified only in self-defense, broadly construed, and only if the other usual criteria for just war are satisfied, and an attack on Syria cannot be justified on those grounds. (It is not enough that a war protect or advance some “national interest.” Neither is there a good argument involving retribution in relation to international law. I also think it is correct not to “trust” our leaders in government at least in the sense that the burden of proof is on them to establish a causa belli)
The moralism which underlies so much of the pro-attack rhetoric cannot be sustained if one considers that we need to attend to violence in our own society. Thus Pope Francis on Sunday: each of us needs to make “a strong and courageous decision to renounce evil and its seductions and to choose the good, ready to pay the price … what good is it to wage war, so much war, if you don’t have the capacity to wage this more profound war against evil?”