Monday, August 18, 2014

Here's one tweet that doesn't explain anything

At Vox, Max Fisher is excited --

News from 1096 AD: Pope endorses military force to destroy Middle Eastern caliphate ... Pope Francis, normally quite a peacenik, has endorsed the use of military force against Islamic State (ISIS), the terrorist group and self-declared caliphate that has seized large chunks of Syria and Iraq and is terrorizing civilians, especially Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities.

There follows a supercilious comparison of the alleged papal endorsement of the northern Iraq intervention with the Crusades against actual Caliphates.

The claimed endorsement is based on a Ken Thomas (AP) tweet which claims Pope Francis endorsed the use of force to protect minorities in Iraq. To leap from that to say that the normally "peacenik" Pope is suddenly endorsing wars is not consistent with a fuller account of the conversation occurring on the papal plane returning from Korea, as reported by Vatican news service --

Answering questions regarding the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities by fundamentalists of the Islamic State (IS), the Pope said that “it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor”. And he underlined the word “halt” pointing out that does not mean to “bomb”. He said the methods used to halt the aggressor are to be evaluated. The Pope also pointed out that in these cases we must not forget “how many times with the excuse of halting the unjust aggressor (…) have powerful nations taken possession of peoples and waged a war of conquest!” A single nation, he said, cannot judge how to stop an unjust aggressor, and he pointed to the United Nations as the right venue to discuss the issue. Pope Francis also pointed out that persecuted Christians are close to his heart but he underlined the fact that there are also other minorities suffering persecution, and they all have the same rights.

But that's all too subtle in the quest for click-bait.

UPDATE: A day later, a different Vox writer returns to the issue with a more considered approach.