Outside View: Repeating the past

By FRANCIS JOHN HOGAN, UPI Outside View Commentator  |  Jan. 24, 2014 at 12:04 AM
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BOSTON, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- As we look ahead to the New Year, work and strive to keep resolutions and to meet promises, we might take a moment to offer contemplative thanks for the many gifts that we have received within our daily lives: a loving family, good health and, of course, our freedom.

As a topic for consideration, there are two Christian bishops who were kidnapped last April and are being held captive as a result of the war in Syria. They are Metropolitan Paul Yazigi and Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim.

It would appear that the world has abrogated outrage within this matter; of the crime of a church deacon named Fathallah Kabud being killed and two Christian bishops being kidnapped and held against their will for months on end. All in deference to a new world order and a desire for a brokered, bureaucratic renaissance in the Middle East.

When leaders of a chosen faith are killed, kidnapped and then held for "political ransom" -- what are the consequences to our own valued Western ideals and to our character as a country?

Presently, the world appears to be unwilling, or unable to effect the bishops' release and safe return; to simply send these two bishops home to their families, to their parishioners, to their church.

Indeed, in a truly dazzling display of flagging Western intellectual and cultural dynamism -- consistent inaction, within this kidnapping affair, has only prompted the increase of reprisals against innocent Christians in Syria, as a Catholic priest and an order of nuns have also been abducted and remain missing.

What originally began as peaceful, non-violent demonstrations for greater freedom for the people, and for a regime change in Syria, has morphed and descended into a theater of brutal absurdity: a protracted contest of wills, a war of attrition and a very great moral and humanitarian crisis within our time.

Presently, the collective wisdom of bureaucrats, diplomats and by representative governments around the world convening in Switzerland appears to be along the following lines: That the release and safe return of these two bishops is a complicated affair. That a reasoned and an immediate solution, within this hostage-taking matter, is almost impossible to arrive at. That regional security and geopolitical considerations outweigh the injustices that have been visited upon these men of faith and by the Christian community living and dying in Syria.

Constructive dialogue and bringing together warring peoples of divergent world views is a noble endeavor and is always welcome however, one shouldn't be so easily placated into accepting a presentation of form over substance, nor process over solution, especially when the stakes are so high.

Though a political dialogue may be at hand, I hold the opinion that the fate of these two Christian bishops shouldn't be solely linked to the Geneva II negotiations and to the larger regional, geopolitical security considerations being discussed in Montreux, Switzerland.

I am of the further opinion that a very great effort should be made to secure the immediate release and safe return of Metropolitan Paul Yazigi and Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim.

Let me explain.

Just as state-sponsored terrorism became a reality, as well as an accepted tactic of conflict used by militant groups in the later part of the last century -- so, too, has the abduction and killing of Christians, as well as people of other faiths, become a common tactic of modern day warfare.

These tactics will be proven as being useful and further legitimized if left on the table as part of an undeclared corollary agenda to formal peace negotiations, as a part of Geneva II.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Viewed through the kaleidoscope of divergent ideologies converging within countries across the globe -- if this "stain of conduct" remains and is left unacknowledged in its present form and incarnation -- this problem, hidden in the shadows of indifference, fear and violence, will only continue to increase, worsen and evolve into something far more tragic.

Whether one is a Christian, Jewish, a Muslim, or an atheist -- one can still stand, in this matter, for a universal standard of acceptability and of human decency.

These bishops are men of faith, peace and humanity; individuals who presently find themselves in harm's way. Certainly, we can take some form of action to insure that Metropolitan Paul Yazigi and Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim arrive home safely.


Francis John Hogan operates a consulting business Constantissimus XIVIXVI. He said a family of one of the missing bishops asked him to help in working toward the men's release.)


(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

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