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Posted by on Sep 8, 2013 in At TMV | 3 comments

Putin Should Be Humble in Face of Pope’s Appeal for Peace (La Croix, France)


Can Russian President Vladimir Putin consider calls for peace by Pope Francis a ‘triumph’ of his opposition to a U.S. strike on Syria? For France’s La Croix, columnist Guillaume Goubert, recalling Pope John Paul II’s epic confrontation with the Kremlin, warns Putin that trifling with a pope’s words can be a risky business, especially for a Russian head of state.

For La Croix, Guillaume Goubert writes in part:

“War never again! Never again war!” The call of Pope Francis, launched last Sunday from St. Peter’s Square and repeated on Twitter, may seem like particularly naive idealism.

Pope Francis refuses to allow humanity to surrender in the face of violence. He has invited all believers and people of good will to share tomorrow [Saturday] a day of fasting and prayer for peace. In an unprecedented gesture, Frances himself will lead an evening-long prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Square. Whatever the symbolic power of this gesture, the head of the Catholic Church isn’t stopping there. In a series of actions not seen at the Vatican in ten years, he has mobilized all of the diplomatic strength of the Holy See to achieve a negotiated end to the Syrian crisis and denounce the “futile pursuit of a military solution.”

These words are from a letter written by the pope addressed to Vladimir Putin, as host of the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg. The Russian president might be tempted to exploit these words – he who opposes any armed action against the Damascus regime. But if his memory still functions, he will take care not to linger too long in triumph. The former KGB agent stationed in Germany at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall will recall that the word of a pope – it was then John Paul II – can be a very disarming “naiveté.”

READ ON IN ENGLISH OR RUSSIAN, OR READ MORE TRANSLATED and English-language foreign press coverage on the Syria crisis, the NSA scandal, and the G20 Summit at Worldmeets.US, your most trusted translator and aggregator of foreign news and views about our nation.

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  • EwenAllisonEsq

    The doctrine of humanitarian intervention holds that one state has the right to intervene militarily to protect population in another state. A United States military court recognized as much at Nuremberg. p. 981-982. The doctrine does not require action. But it would legitimize punishment for use of chemical weapons.

    The doctrine of reprisals allows the taking of otherwise unlawful action to punish and deter violations of the law of war. In World War II, for example, Germany put Canadian POWs in chains, and the Canadians retaliated by doing the same to German POWs. Reprisals are not allowed against civilians and civilian objects, but that leaves a wealth of legitimate military targets. This doctrine, too, would legitimize strikes in response to use of chemical weapons.

    Neither of these doctrines amounts to an obligation, however. They are permissive, that is, they legitimate an attack on Syria, facts permitting, but do not require it. I say “facts permitting,” because there has to be strong and valid evidence in order to invoke them. They aren’t a carte-blanche.

    The use of poison gas has been against international law since 1900, if not earlier. That was entry-into-force date of treaties banning use of “poison or poisoned arms” and missiles delivering “asphyxiating or deleterious gases” in international armed conflict. (Art. 22) and . A 1907 treaty banned nearly identical to one of those earlier ones, use of “poison and poisoned weapons” (Art. 23). Key parts of the two major treaties are known loosely as the “Hague Regulations,” not “The Geneva Convention.” Turkey and France ratified all three agreements. Turkey and later France controlled the territory that became Syria. Therefore, Syria, too, is bound by those conventions.

    Many allude to a chemical weapons treaty of 1925, calling it the Geneva Convention. Actually, it’s the Geneva Protocol of 1925, and the “Geneva Conventions” are separate treaties entirely. The Protocol didn’t actually ban chemical weapons, but it confirmed earlier treaty provisions that did (see above) and extended the ban to “bacteriological” weapons.

    In any event, the International Committee of the Red Cross found that there is now a rule at customary international law which prohibits use of chemical weapons, even in non-international armed conflict. The customary-law status of this rule makes it binding on Syria.

  • sheknows

    Thank you EA Esq. for your very thorough research. It appears there is both precedence and legal recourse than to take military action in Syria, which only leaves the minor consideration of… repercussions.

  • ordinarysparrow

    Pope Francis continues to touch a tenderness with his actions since becoming Pope. He really acts like a true servant of the Servant of God, the one called the Christ. I am happy for the Catholics, whether one agrees with him or not, they have a representative that lives and expresses as a holy man.

    As far as Putin what he thinks of the Pope and him being on the same page is very insignificant…

    EA Esq i add to sheknows acknowledgment and thanks… Informative…

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