Dear Ms Bishop
I am presumptuously early in congratulating you both on your election, the Coalition’s accession to Government and your appointment as our Foreign Minister. But I do wish you well in representing all of us in the wider world.
Like you, I am appalled by the use by the Assad regime of chemical weapons. I am appalled that they should use such inhumane weapons and I am dumbfounded that they should use them against their own people.
I agree that the rest of the world cannot sit by and by silence condone their use.
However, I cannot see the logical step by which President Obama and the Australian Government believe that the appropriate punitive response is a response of force. A military response, apart from the illegality of attacking a sovereign nation that is not attacking us, reduces us to the level of the Assad government.
Non-violent response to the use of chemical weapons makes a more powerful and far more ethical statement. The rest of the world should not bomb, strafe or murder Syrians. Rather we should
° firstly state our opposition and disgust in response to the Assad regime’s actions through diplomatic channels.
° Secondly the West should better target humanitarian aid so that the real victims of the civil war can at least survive in safety. Standing by the least powerful Syrians, whether in refugee camps or cowering in suburbs in Damascus or Aleppo is a strong condemnation of the war.
° Thirdly the world can use mass media and social media inside and beyond Syria to condemn the actions of the Assad government. Humiliating a tyrant with words is more effective than killing his cousins, which only inflames the situation.
As our future Foreign Minister, Ms Bishop, please avoid adding to blood-shed by urging the world to act ethically and non-violently.
(The Rev’d) Ted Witham
Episcopal theologian Frank Kirkpatrick has a similar take on Huffington Post.