Bishop of St Andrews

Should we be involved in the bombing of Syria?

December 1, 2015

The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church says:

“The decision which the House of Commons will make tomorrow is one which tests to the utmost the question of how a society which has democratic accountability responds to terrorism and barbarity. Recent events in Paris were appalling in their random cruelty and complete disregard for the rights and freedoms of a civilian population. Our instinctive sense of justice demands the satisfaction of an appropriate response. Such a response, it is argued, will degrade the ability of Isis to carry out further attacks and will therefore make us safer.

“But in matters of peace and war, Christians are always mindful of the question of what makes a war just. The desire for revenge is not enough. Nor is the feeling that ‘we must do something rather than nothing.’ Instead we think about questions such as whether a bombing campaign is likely to achieve the desired outcome and whether the means to be deployed are proportionate. Violence mirrors violence. It is likely that a bombing campaign will simply further escalate the violence and fail to challenge the heart of the dreadful ideology which makes attacks like those in Paris and other places possible.

“The urge to do ‘something rather than nothing’ is understandable. But the view that involvement in a bombing campaign is unlikely to achieve the desired outcome – and may indeed make our world yet more dangerous – is equally if not more compelling.”