New stories on the website

Three new items, now featured on the website.

First, the editors on unanswered questions about achievable goals and authorization of military force against ISIS in Syria:

Without the backing of Congress or the United Nations, is the United States legitimately authorized to use force? And does Obama’s proposed strategy stand a reasonable chance of achieving its aims? “Degrade” and “ultimately destroy” are two very different goals. Thanks to the capabilities of the U.S. military, degrading ISIS is well within reach. But it seems unlikely that the group can be destroyed without deploying U.S. troops. While growing international support for confronting ISIS lends welcome legitimacy, other factors complicate the picture. Qatar and Saudi Arabia participated in the most recent air strikes in Syria, yet both have been sources for the financing of Islamist extremists. Turkey, fearful of empowering the Kurds, is noncommittal. Iran, while supporting the fight against ISIS, is also an ally of Syria’s Assad regime.

Read all of "Muddled?" here. Also, Adrian Bonenberger explains why striking ISIS is the worst thing to do:

American interventions can make a potential ISIS recruit out of someone whose uncle's house was destroyed by a drone, or help ISIS demagogues blame the United States for the plight of refugees stuck in camps. To someone who has suffered loss or displacement, religious extremism may seem attractive in comparison. When an extremist mullah cuts off the hand of a thief, the act may be barbaric, but it has a measure of logic behind it—unlike, say, a drone strike that wipes out a family celebrating a wedding. Having America as a military enemy helps miscreants like Al Qaeda and ISIS galvanize constituent populations in ways that they cannot if they are seen as merely waging a battle for supremacy with rival believers or ethnic groups. What ISIS relies on is a kind of bait-and-switch. They need us as their enemy.

Read all of "The Case Against Intervention" here.

Finally, Rita Ferrone wonders why the Vatican is so worried about "abuses" of the sign of peace:

[O]ne might imagine that the sign of peace is floundering in the church today. In fact, it’s one of the most successful rites we have. This is shown by how thoroughly it has been inculturated: with hand clasps and smiling exchanges in North America; with lively songs in the Caribbean; with bowing in Thailand; with monastic practices such as those of the Jerusalem community, whose members rush forth from their contemplative position in choir to share the peace joyfully with as many as they can; and more. Those are hardly abuses. Rather, they are ways of inculturating the sign of peace, of enabling its rich and meaningful use.

Read all of "Easy Does It" here. 

Dominic Preziosi is Commonweal’s editor. Follow him on Twitter.

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