My open letter to the Hon. Julie Bishop MHR

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.

Yours sincerely

(The Rev’d) Ted Witham

Episcopal theologian Frank Kirkpatrick has a similar take on Huffington Post.

Author: Ted Witham

Husband and father, Grandfather.Franciscan, writer and Anglican priest.

4 thoughts on “My open letter to the Hon. Julie Bishop MHR”

  1. Well said Ted, although I am hoping that you are ‘presumptuously early in congratulating’ Julie Bishop. Some of us ‘true believers’ have not given up hope as the polls have not closed yet!

    1. I know, I know. I would be very happy if the ALP were returned, and you’re right – it’s still possible. But there just don’t seem to be enough numbers to go around!

  2. I think Ms Bishop is already doing Australia proud…

    And on another point, you wrote:
    “I am appalled by the use by the Assad regime of chemical weapons.”….


    1. The UN Report did NOT apportion responsibility on the Assad Regime

    2. The US government has NOT produced any incontrovertIble evidence to date to prove its strident “claims” and need to start a bombing campaign (please recall Colin Powell, as Kerry is doing now, made exactly the same claims about Saddam Hussain BUT no WMD’s were found…hmm)

    3. Allies of the US (Saudi Arabia & Qatar) are financing and arming (with US military hardware) the so called Syrian rebels – why ISN’T the US, Britain and France pressuring these countries and the rebels into a cease fire and negotiations?…

    I could mention many other problems with the US and its claims of being “exceptional” and proposing to act against International Law, the UN Charter, the Rule of Law while mainstream media makes Hitler’s propaganda machine look like amateurs, but for now that may be enough for us to question “certain” assumptions.

    1. I agree that whether or not the Assad regime used the chemical weapons, there is no justification for the US to make a military strike (bombing or other) against Syria.

      AS the days have passed, I have become less sure about who used the chemical weapons. I think it is highly likely that someone in the Assad regime authorised their use, but – you are exactly right – no-one has claimed responsibility and there appears to be no proof. There is no question that the Sarin gas originated from the Assad regime, so the regime does bear some responsibilty for its deployment.

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