Friday, March 4, 2022

Just war theory and the Russo-Ukrainian war

One of the striking features of the catastrophe in Ukraine is how unambiguously the principles of just war doctrine seem to apply.  On the one hand, Russia’s invasion cannot be justified given the criteria of just war theory.  On the other hand, NATO military action against Russia cannot be justified either.  Here are the criteria for just military action as set out in section 2309 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

At one and the same time:

- the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

- all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

- there must be serious prospects of success;

- the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.  The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

End quote.  I submit that Russia’s invasion clearly fails to meet the first, second, and fourth criteria, and NATO military action against Russia would clearly fail to meet the second, third, and fourth criteria.

The injustice of the invasion is obvious even given the most generous interpretation of Putin’s motives.  Hence, suppose we conceded for the sake of argument that Russia has a legitimate interest in keeping Ukraine out of NATO.  Suppose that, as some have argued, the United States and her allies have long been needlessly poking the bear, and that Russia would have been far less likely to invade Ukraine had they not done so.  Even given those premises, it simply doesn’t follow that Ukraine is an “aggressor,” that Russia has suffered any “lasting, grave, and certain” damage from Ukraine, or that “all other means” of remedying Russia’s concerns “have been shown to be impractical or ineffective.”  Nor is the extreme harm inflicted on innocent Ukrainians by war proportionate to whatever grievances Russia has.  Hence Russia’s invasion of Ukraine cannot be said to meet the first, second, and fourth criteria for a just war, and therefore is manifestly gravely unjust.

For that reason, military action to repel Russia’s invasion clearly is legitimate, and justice requires favoring the Ukrainian side in the war.  In the abstract, support for Ukraine could include military action against Russia by any nation friendly to Ukraine.  However, the justice of the cause of defending Ukraine fulfills only the first of the four criteria set out by the Catechism.  What about the other three?

Putin has not-so-subtly threatened to use nuclear weapons if the United States or other NATO countries intervene militarily in the conflict.  The realistic prospect of such extreme escalation makes it impossible for such intervention to meet the Catechism’s fourth criterion, which emphasizes that “the power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.”  The use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine, to which Russia might resort if NATO intervenes, would surely “produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.”  Graver still would be a situation where Ukraine, other nearby NATO states, and Russia (as a result of NATO nuclear retaliation) were all attacked with nuclear weapons.  And worst of all would be a scenario where what started out as a local war in Ukraine spiraled into an all-out global nuclear exchange between Russia and the United States.

Even a localized nuclear exchange would also render unlikely the fulfillment of the third condition for just war, viz. the “serious prospects of success.”  If Russia uses nuclear weapons against Ukraine or NATO itself, would NATO countries really retaliate in kind?  If they did not, it seems that Russian victory would be assured.  But if they did retaliate in kind, it is very far from clear that this would not spiral into a conflict that no one could win.  Nor can it be said that all the less extreme alternatives to NATO intervention have been exhausted, as the second criterion for just war requires.

It is therefore irresponsible in the extreme to suggest, as some have, that NATO impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which would entail direct military confrontation between NATO and Russia.  The problem is not just that this is foolish and reckless.  The problem is that such escalation cannot be justified by just war criteria, and would therefore itself be gravely unjust.  Any public authorities who take action that risks nuclear war – and thus the deaths of millions of innocent people – would be no less guilty of violating the moral principles governing war than Putin is.

Just war doctrine’s counsel to the United States and her NATO allies thus seems clear: Cheer Ukraine on and provide whatever assistance is possible consistent with avoiding the risk of a nuclear escalation.  Otherwise, stay the hell out of it.  Damon Linker seems to me to have the right idea: Putin’s actions must be unequivocally condemned and Ukraine supported, but Western policy should emphasize diplomacy, and work to create for Putin some feasible “off-ramp” from the path he has taken – rather than ratcheting up the rhetoric and entertaining reckless military scenarios and that can only make a nuclear confrontation more likely.

Now, you don’t need to be a Catholic or a natural law theorist to see all this.  Indeed, I think that probably most people have arrived at more or less the same view of the crisis that I have been arguing for here.  Yet there are some commentators who have rejected this view in favor of one extreme alternative or another – some downplaying the gravity of Putin’s evildoing, others reacting instead with excessive bellicosity and animus against all things Russian.  What accounts for this?

The answer, I would suggest, has largely to do with the extreme partisanship that has in recent years led too many people to drag irrelevant preexisting grievances into every new controversy.  When a crisis occurs, partisans succumb to the temptation to fit it into some general background narrative that explains “what is really going on” in terms of the machinations of evil forces on the opposite political extreme from the one they favor.  The Manichean ideologies that have gained influence on both sides of the political spectrum in recent years exacerbate this “narrative thinking,” as does the strong propensity of social media to foster irrational habits of thought. 

Hence, consider the strange new belligerence to be found today in some liberal circles.  When I was a teenager in the 1980s, it was still routine to fling against conservatives the longstanding accusations that they were prone to demonize Russia, were paranoid about Russian influence within American institutions, were eager to get into armed conflict with the “Russkies,” were frighteningly glib about the survivability of limited nuclear war, and were inclined to resort to McCarthyite tactics and charges of treason against anyone who objected to all of this.  These accusations were made despite the fact that Russia had recently invaded Afghanistan – not to mention the earlier invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, or all the proxy wars Russia was engaged in throughout the Cold War.  None of this, in liberal eyes, justified right-wing anti-Russian bellicosity or paranoia.

Yet now it is liberals who are most prone to exhibit exactly these traits they once attributed to conservatives.  What accounts for this bizarre reversal?  I would submit that it has to do, in part, with Putin’s predilection for traditionalist Christian and anti-LGBT rhetoric (as Richard Hanania has pointed out), and in part with persistent left-wing attachment to fantasies about Russian interference with American elections.  These factors had already transformed Putin into a bogeyman in the liberal imagination, so that his immoral invasion of Ukraine has made it seem justifiable to some to risk even nuclear war in order to destroy him.

And it is, I would suggest, overreaction to these liberal excesses that has led some on the opposite extreme end of the political spectrum to refuse to face up to the full gravity of the evil that Putin has done.  They have been tempted by the thought that if liberals hate Putin with such intensity, he can’t be that bad, and that opposition to his invasion must therefore have something essentially to do with the Great Reset, the woke agenda, the Covid healthcare dictatorship, etc. etc.

This is all bonkers.  The key facts to keep firmly before one’s mind are (a) that Putin’s invasion is unjustifiable, has caused the deaths of hundreds of innocent people so far and will almost certainly result in thousands more, and maybe worse, and (b) that NATO military engagement with Russia would entail a serious risk of nuclear war and therefore cannot be justified.  Longstanding political obsessions cannot alter these facts, but only blind us to them.

209 comments:

  1. Ed,
    Are the Ukrainians justified in fighting Russia, according to this theory? Condition 3 (there must be serious prospects of success) does not seem to be satisfied.

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    1. They have prospects of success. Every defense war has, it's just a matter of asking how much you are willing to sacrifice. The Afgans freed themselves from American occupation, so can the Ukranians from Russian occupation.
      And certain things, such as one's people's continued existence is more valuable than many particular lives lost in the battles. If it were not so, almost no defensive war would be just.

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    2. I would disagree with that from the purely military point of view. Further Ukrainian resistance would probably achieve nothing of real military consequence besides prolonged bloodshed. Their army as a coherent force capable of coordinated action that could achieve
      results on the political strategic level ended on day one. Russian missile strikes pretty much destroyed the necessary infrastructure to do that. Military intervention by NATO is unlikely for obvious reasons. Economic sanctions will take a long time to take effect if at all, even if they don't backfire and unite the Russian public behind their government.

      If you are arguing that prolonged bloodshed itself could achieve some desired outcome that would classify as a serious prospect of success under the third condition of a just war I would counter that this would violate the fourth condition. Unless you are confronted with an enemy that has clearly genocidal intents. But I don't think that applies in this case.

      I would actually agree with your statement that many defensive wars are unjust. Or become unjust relatively soon due to the nature of modern weapons and warfare. Surrendering to spare the lives of your men, your people and the enemy would very often be the only Christian thing to do I believe.

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    3. Obviously a lot of this is a judgement call, but sufficient defensive resistance might well result in better terms of a ceasefire, even if it is not thoroughgoing victory. This is to say, "success" can take different forms.

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    4. Condition 3, there must be serious prospects of success is a condition that carries considerable room for nuance: the definition of "success". It depends, for example, on what you believe the outcome of not fighting will be, ranging from:
      1. immediate murder of every resident
      2. forcible conversion (at sword point) to a false religion.
      3. murder of the men, rape of the women, enslavement of children, theft of all movable goods, and destruction of the rest
      3
      4
      5 signature on a treaty agreeing that X region is now independent.

      You can see how not having reasonable chance of success where not fighting means 5 represents a vastly different measure than not having a reasonable chance of success where not fighting means 1. Arguably, if the prospect from not fighting is 1, then fighting "to the last man" is wholly justified, and surrender is pointless. And when the failure implies loss of your children's religion (being forced to raise them in a false religion), arguably there is no room for a "chance of success" limit to your willingness to fight: in certain cases, lost causes (for this life) are fine, if the alternative is the loss of eternal life.

      So, one cannot deploy the "prospect of success" criterion without reference to what is to be lost by not fighting.

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    5. I agree with Tony's argument that the enemy's intent and the likely consequences of enemy victory form part of the basis of making the call whether or not further resistance is justified.

      Looking at Russian intent as stated by Putin himself. They are out to 'demilitarize','de-nazify' and 'truly de-communize' Ukraine. All the while sparing civilians and Ukrainian regular forces as much as possible.

      Basically the Russians want to cripple the Ukrainian state by destroying it's military infrastructure and maybe taking some territory as well. Also they are out to decapitate the Ukrainian nationalist movement by killing or capturing it's leadership and armed militants.

      I think ccmnxc is correct as well. What success means is a judgement call. But outside of stalling Russian troops through delaying actions while negotiating for the lives of the nationalist militiamen I don't think there is much likely Ukrainian success to be achieved.

      Any competent and dispassionate military professional who knows warfare on the operational level can tell you that Ukraine is done. Their units are stuck to hiding in urban areas where they have cover. They can only hold and defend these areas, but can not concentrate troops out in the open to push the Russians out. They'll get blown to bits by Russian air power and heavy weapons. That means Grozny-style urban warfare is the only option left to them. Even a soldier with a utilitarian philosophy should come to the conclusion that further resistance at that point is immoral.

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    6. I agree with "Tony" here above: "one cannot deploy the "prospect of success" criterion without reference to what is to be lost by not fighting"

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    7. Can Ukraine trust Putin? Heck, Russian verchuska even criminalize own citizens if they call this war a war, not a "military operation" or if they demonstrate for peace. In this situation, de-nacification can be seen as a proposal to force citizens to denounce own nationality. Putin does not believe that Ukrainians are a separate nation. Also, Ukrainians have a grave historical experience with Russia/Soviet Union where their food was forcefully confiscated which resulted in about 3 million of Ukrainian deaths (However, Stalin called it a war of communists vs the peasants). Stalin was a tyrant, Putin is a tyrant - from the Ukrainian side of view, who knows what could be the consequences of defeat?

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    8. Tony, Jacob E, and others,
      You have a very good point concerning the "prospect of success" being evaluated in context of what is to be lost if there is no fight. Thank you; this helps.

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    9. Dear Foxie,

      From your comment, I understand that you blame the Russians for the famine that occurred during the Stalin era?
      It's ridiculous, I think.

      Stalin was Georgian, Khrushchev was Ukrainian. Not only Ukraine suffered from the famine of 1932-1933, but also Russia, Moldova, and Kazakhstan.

      Let's see what historians R.W.Davies and S.Wheatcroft write.
      They estimate the losses of the entire population (and Russians too, they inhabited Northern Kazakhstan) in Kazakhstan at 1.3-1.5 million people.
      Ukraine's losses are 3.08 million people.
      North Caucasus -0.62 million.
      Russia - 2.18 million.

      https://www.rulit.me/data/programs/resources/pdf/Stiven_Uitkroft_Godyi_goloda_Selskoe_hozyaystvo_SSSR_1931-1933_RuLit_Net_298310.pdf

      Page 422.

      What does the "bloodthirstiness" of the Russians and the evil Putin have to do with it? These are the fruits of the Bolshevik policy, which brought great suffering to the peoples of the USSR, worse than which was only the invasion of Europeans under the leadership of Hitler.

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    10. Our sources differ in their conclusions:
      https://www.tcd.ie/Economics/assets/pdf/Seminars/20202021/The_Soviet_Great_Famine_Nancy_Qian_29Sept20.pdf Note one of the authors studies in Russia.
      This paper investigates the causes of the Soviet Great Famine, 1932–33, and documents
      several new empirical facts. First, excess mortality was much higher in regions with a higher
      share of ethnic Ukrainians, even outside of the Soviet Republic of Ukraine. Second, this
      cannot be explained by differences in natural conditions, grain productivity, demographic
      structure or urbanization. Third, in regions with a higher share of ethnic Ukrainians, Soviet
      economic policies were implemented more zealously, which resulted in higher food procurement and famine mortality. Fourth, there is suggestive evidence that mortality was exacerbated by the presence of non-ethnic Ukrainian Communist Party bureaucrats. These and
      other results in the paper provide novel evidence for the presence of ethnic bias in famine-era
      Soviet policies and the contribution of ethnic bias to famine mortality.

      Encyclopedia Britannica
      " The Ukrainian grain harvest of 1932 had resulted in below-average yields (in part because of the chaos wreaked by the collectivization campaign), but it was more than sufficient to sustain the population. Nevertheless, Soviet authorities set requisition quotas for Ukraine at an impossibly high level. Brigades of special agents were dispatched to Ukraine to assist in procurement, and homes were routinely searched and foodstuffs confiscated. At the same time, a law was passed in August 1932 making the theft of socialist property a capital crime, leading to scenes in which peasants faced the firing squad for stealing as little as a sack of wheat from state storehouses. The rural population was left with insufficient food to feed itself. The ensuing starvation grew to a massive scale by the spring of 1933, but Moscow refused to provide relief. In fact, the Soviet Union exported more than a million tons of grain to the West during this period." (https://www.britannica.com/place/Ukraine/The-famine-of-1932-33-Holodomor)

      "The Ukrainian famine—known as the Holodomor, a combination of the Ukrainian words for “starvation” and “to inflict death”—by one estimate claimed the lives of 3.9 million people, about 13 percent of the population. And, unlike other famines in history caused by blight or drought, this was caused when a dictator wanted both to replace Ukraine’s small farms with state-run collectives and punish independence-minded Ukrainians who posed a threat to his totalitarian authority.

      “The Ukrainian famine was a clear case of a man-made famine,” explains Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University and author of the 2018 book, Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine. He describes it as “a hybrid…of a famine caused by calamitous social-economic policies and one aimed at a particular population for repression or punishment.”" https://www.history.com/news/ukrainian-famine-stalin

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    11. Dear Foxie,

      I believe that the arguments about the ethnic nature of the famine allegedly created by the Russian majority are nothing more than the modern politicization of the issue of communist crimes (According to your links, only the first article explicitly states the ethnic nature of the famine). Another attempt to demonize the Russians. You will understand this very easily when you look at the history of the creation of Soviet Ukraine.

      The fact is that the Bolsheviks annexed a number of Russian territories to the traditional Ukrainian lands (Little Russia). In 1922-1928, Donbass and Novorossiya were transferred to Ukraine, the southern parts of Grayvoronsky Uyezd and Muromsky volost, part of Putivl and Kursk uyezds, Troitskaya Volost of Valuysky Uyezd of Voronezh Province, part of Urazovsky Volost, over a dozen villages of Bryansk province and Semenovskaya volost of Gomel province were transferred to Ukraine. In 1954, the Ukrainian Khrushchev handed over Crimea to Ukraine, and in violation of federal procedures.

      All these territories were inhabited either by Russians or by a mixed population.

      The Bolsheviks did not ask if Russians wanted to live in Ukraine. It didn't matter to the internationalist Communists.

      That is why it is simply ridiculous to imagine the famine of 1931-1933 as an ethnic cleansing of Ukrainians.

      The geography of the famine shows that the most fertile regions with large acreage suffered, and not only ethnic Ukrainian territories.

      This is well shown in the work I have given. The authors worked with Russian archival documents.

      The number of Russians and Kazakhs who died of hunger is not much less than Ukrainians.

      It is all the more stupid to consider this the machinations of the Russians.

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    12. Aside from the fact you are using the British encyclopedia in some attempt to persuade North Americans of some fact, do you even have a point to make? I mean aside from totalitarian regimes being completely useless and the ideological blow-hards behind them being worthy of blame and censure forever?

      I'm sorry about your so-called "Holodomor" or whatever. I'm also sorry the present leader of the Ukraine is running around asking for money and guns - and getting lots of it. I'm also sorry to tell you they will get their asses kicked.

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    13. I do not see it as famine caused by "Russian majority". It was a famine caused by a "dictator and a criminal regime in Moscow". And I am trying to argue that Ukrainians may see the just war precepts in light of this historical experience. As lon as we recognize that Holodomor is a part of Ukrainian historical consciousness (many Russians may disagree, but for the moral decisions of Ukrainians that is a moot point) that can affect their moral reasoning. BTW Americans do not consider British encyclopedia as a valid source? I am a European and I am not sure I "get" your comment.

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  2. You know, I don't know how you did this, but you just articulated what I've been thinking about this.

    I think that if one word can describe this war, it's "useless." This didn't need to happen. At any point, each actor could've decided to stop what they were doing and deescalate. But they didn't. Whether it be out of pride, paranoia, some cynical political agenda, or consuming too much television and video games, our country is making Putin - the aggressor - seem downright reasonable and sane by comparison.

    One thing this piece doesn't seem to touch on is the Fox News conservatives and how unhinged they are in this. If you want examples, just see Lindsay Graham's call for Putin to be assassinated or Sean Hannity's suggestion that NATO launch a strike on a Russian convoy and then deny that they did it. These comments would make someone like Ilhan Omar look at them and say "You need to chill."

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  3. What about the Russian claim that they are defending the ethnic Russians in the Donbass who are being oppressed by the Ukrainian government? If their invasion had involved purely the Donbass region, assuming Russian claims about the situation to be true, would that have been a just cause?

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    1. I am curious to hear prof. Feser's take on this as well.

      In my opinion it's just the fourth criteria that is clearly being violated. The first two are much more contentious when taking the continuing Ukrainian civil war into account.

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    2. That's just a lazy pretext Russia has been using, but even then, it would obviously not justify an invasion. Ukraine is a sovereign country and diplomatic measures hadn't been properly tried, much less exhausted, if there was any serious concern for that stuff in Donbass.

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    3. Considering that Russians themselves partially instigated the rebellion in the Donbass back in 2014, it's just another instance of Russia escalating, and then complaining when they are met with proportional force. (You could argue that the Ukrainians were using disproportionate force in some cases...but when considering that they were basically putting down a Super-power infringing on their sovereignty, that changes the calculus.)

      A good analogy, I think, is to look back at the Cuban Missle Crisis.

      The U.S was partly unjust in the Bay of Pigs invasion. They therefore couldn't complain too much about the succeeding escalations of Castro. This is analogous to Russias 2014 actions in Donbass.

      Similarly, JFK was RIGHT to not escalate after the Soviets got involved in Cuba...but this is exactly where Putin has failed, by continuing to escalate.

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    4. Similarly, JFK was RIGHT to not escalate after the Soviets got involved in Cuba

      Ummmm, I am having trouble understanding your theory here. JFK ...did... SOMETHING that caused the Russians to pull back their missile force out of Cuba. I know that the fabled JFK "staring Kruschev in the eye and forcing him to put up or shut up" is more fiction than fact, but the reality is that the Russians DID change course and pull their guys and stuff out. It is true that JFK did not send troops on land and start shooting. But it is not true that JFK did not take armed action: he sent navy and other assets into the area and blockaded, for one thing. A blockade is considered a hostile action and is technically an act of war, in its own right.

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    5. Remember that Hitler claimed he was invading Czechoslovakia and Poland in order to help the German people living in those countries. Just like Putin, he was angry at past politicians who drew the borders improperly.

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  4. It seems that under the current pattern, putin can conventionally attack one small country at a time and the West's hands will be morally tied by #4 because of the nuclear consequence of intervention

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    1. Well no, the West can arm these small countries to the point where an invasion is not feasible. Which was not done with Ukraine. It has been armed, but not so much as it easily could have been in Russian threat was taken seriously enough. Of course, it's also a matter of interests, Germany geopolitically doesn't mind an alliance with Russia at all, it's a great American fear even.

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    2. In reality, arming them to the point that an invasion from the second most powerful military in the world is not feasible, is extremely hard. Moreover, the process of arming them like that takes time and is visible and that would only make Russia attack before it's too late. In fact that's what they did with Ukraine too. The best security countries near Russia have is NATO membership.

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    3. Actually Ukraine is not so small!! There are 140 million in Russia, and close to 40 million in Ukraine. If in order to invade you need 3 times more soldiers than defense side. Then it comes to almost egalite. Ukraine was preparing for defense and defense has a lot more willpower than offense (especially if you are invading your brotherly country; i would not be surprised that every 3rd Russian soldier is shooting in the sky instead of killing fellow Russians living In Ukraine).

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  5. tl;dr M.A.D. has made just war impossible.

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  6. I will say right away: Dr. Feser, I will not stop reading your materials even after you have written this comment. You Americans know nothing about this war because you are deprived of alternative sources of information. I was against the war in Ukraine until I saw the frenzied Russophobic reaction of the West. Now the majority of Russian citizens have no choice but to support Putin. Ukrainians are Bandera, outright Nazis. When high-ranking officials and politicians of Ukraine even BEFORE the WAR declared that they would destroy "Rusnya", "cotton wool", "Muscovites" and "separas" ( "русню", "вату", "москалей" и "сепаров"), how did the Russians have to understand this? These nicknames, insulting to Russians, humiliating their human dignity, were the official vocabulary of the Ukrainian press and the Internet. When the Kiev authorities killed almost 14,000 people in the Donbas for 8 years, where was your Christian sympathy, gentlemen American Christians? Now I see that the West behaves with Russians like white gentlemen with despicable niggers in the old days. This is an ordinary ethno-cultural racism. Your politicians can rejoice: Russians and Ukrainians, professing the same faith and bearing the same names, are killing each other. In the name of American, Western geopolitics! Don't talk about a just or unjust war! The United States has waged hundreds of bloody imperialist wars over the past 100 years. And what? Was it permissible for Americans to do this? Is it according to divine laws? Even 25 years ago, the credibility of the United States in Russia was the highest. We caught every word of the Americans as truth and good. But instead, the Americans tried to dismember Russia, supported various separatists. We were treated like a colonial country. Now you are reaping the benefits of this short-sighted policy. The worst thing is that it led to an unnecessary war for anyone.

    Some of my Ukrainian relatives are under blockade in Mariupol. The Ukrainian army has not let them out of the city for 3 days. Some live in Donetsk, men were drafted into the army of the anti-Kiev Donetsk People's Republic.

    Pavel.Russia.

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    1. "I was against the war in Ukraine until I saw the frenzied Russophobic reaction of the West. Now the majority of Russian citizens have no choice but to support Putin. "

      As a Canadian, I can attest to Russophobia among liberals and leftists. There are a slew of terms they throw at conservatives - especially those who are social conservatives. Among these are also homophobic, misogynist, and racist. And to cap it all off, is the ever present liberal suggestion that the conservatives are secretly being motivated and supported by Putin and the Russians. So I can sympathize with how Russians must feel disrespected.

      Having said that, it seems clear to me that Russia has interfered through social media using bot farms. The liberals blame the 2016 election of Donald Trump on Russian hackers and bot farms. How much of that is true or false, I do not know. But I do agree that the liberal/leftist media and political parties have weaponize (in a political sense) hatred for Putin and Russia.

      But the right is also guilty of these kinds of demonization of the opposition tactics. The fact that our political enemies do this to us does not efface their humanity and right to exist. And we have to resist the temptation to demonize our enemies. As Christians, we are called to try to love our enemies.

      "Ukrainians are Bandera, outright Nazis. When high-ranking officials and politicians of Ukraine even BEFORE the WAR declared that they would destroy "Rusnya", "cotton wool", "Muscovites" and "separas" ( "русню", "вату", "москалей" и "сепаров"), how did the Russians have to understand this? These nicknames, insulting to Russians, humiliating their human dignity, were the official vocabulary of the Ukrainian press and the Internet."

      These are words... did Russia truly fear that the Ukraine would invade Russia? Clearly such talk is stupid and ought to be condemned. But is not the current response from Russia disproportionate?

      "When the Kiev authorities killed almost 14,000 people in the Donbas for 8 years, where was your Christian sympathy, gentlemen American Christians?"

      I looked this up on Wikipedia (for what it is worth). That number is split down the middle between pro Ukrainian forces and pro Russia forces. And all of these are after Russia annexed these regions. (admittedly, I don't know what life was like there before the annexation - I'd be interested in finding out more). Did Russia expect the Ukraine to do nothing as portions of their land were seized?

      Note: I have no stake in this. So please view my questions as sincere. I don't have a settled opinion yet. And I'm open to being convinced otherwise.

      "Now I see that the West behaves with Russians like white gentlemen with despicable niggers in the old days. This is an ordinary ethno-cultural racism. Your politicians can rejoice: Russians and Ukrainians, professing the same faith and bearing the same names, are killing each other. In the name of American, Western geopolitics! Don't talk about a just or unjust war!"

      This is a tragedy. And I suspect aggressive liberal anti Russian hatred has a big part to play in the story.

      Or, perhaps you are paying the price for the sins of your leader, Putin. And he has made mistakes. Many mistakes. And he has resorted to war as a valid option for winning an advantage.

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    2. "The United States has waged hundreds of bloody imperialist wars over the past 100 years. And what? Was it permissible for Americans to do this? Is it according to divine laws? Even 25 years ago, the credibility of the United States in Russia was the highest. We caught every word of the Americans as truth and good. But instead, the Americans tried to dismember Russia, supported various separatists. We were treated like a colonial country. Now you are reaping the benefits of this short-sighted policy. The worst thing is that it led to an unnecessary war for anyone."

      I will not defend bad wars of imperialism that the U.S. has gotten into. But this is a tu quoque argument that does nothing to justify or legitimize this war.

      You perceived Western influence as imperialistic. Understood. However - I'd like to suggest an alternate picture, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, things were hard. Some in former Soviet states looked to Western allies to improve their lot. They felt like they could not rely on Russia as much as they used to. So, just perhaps, you might consider the possibility that the West gave their aid and economic influence with a sincere and good will to help. Having said that, aid and economic help quickly turns into political influence and power. I would suggest that this is a natural progression and not an intentionally implemented and thought out strategy of conquest and imperialistic will to dominate.

      "Some of my Ukrainian relatives are under blockade in Mariupol. The Ukrainian army has not let them out of the city for 3 days. Some live in Donetsk, men were drafted into the army of the anti-Kiev Donetsk People's Republic."

      My wife and I and our kids pray for peace in Russia and the Ukraine every night. This is a tragedy. I know that it isn't a matter of Russia bad Ukraine good or Russia good and Ukrain bad. My heart goes out for both people. And I pray for your relatives in Mariupol. Were they free from Ukrainian attacks before the conflict began? Or only after?

      God bless,
      Daniel

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    3. What war are you talking about? I thought you were supposed to call it special military operation.

      In any case all of your claims are baseless.

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    4. @Pavel I agree the western media is myopic - if there are reporters there its happening, if they are not it isn’t. However at least they are free to report what they want. In Russia there is now no free media, journalists get arrested for reporting true facts that fit the official narrative. Also, although the US did some terrible things during the cold war (what you call imperialism), the fact remains that all of it was in response to the Soviet attempt to force communism on the world. Whilst all the US tactics cannot be defended, their overall objective to prevent the spread of totalitarianism wins morally every time. The guns used by countless child soldiers across the third world are usually AK47s.

      So yes Donbas is a blind spot for western media, but it’s nothing compared to what happened in Georgia, Chechnya etc. If you really think Putin’s invasion is justified, you have been watching too much ‘state approved’ media. If you agree it’s not justified, then you can’t complain about the west supporting the Ukranians.

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    5. It is true that Nazi collaborators and war criminals are celebrated openly in Ukraine, especially in the west of the country (Bandera, UPA, and so on). It is also true that the American Empire did not receive this kind of global condemnation (a testament to American global hegemony) for such things as invading Iraq under the bogus pretext that Hussein was manufacturing WMDs (and still receives no meaningful condemnation for having led to the death of a million Iraqis, the destruction of the country, the rise of ISIS, the destruction of Syria, and so on). However, how does any of this justify this war and its evil consequence? That the American Empire is guilty of horrible crimes and has gotten away with them does not mean we cannot condemn this war. That would be whataboutism. That Banderites are celebrated does not justify this war, especially where many who aren't Banderites will suffer and die. Even the fact that the American Empire is whipping up Russophobia to galvanize defense of its recent imperial acquisition (following the color revolution and Euromaidan) does not justify this war.

      I suggest that instead of making appeals to emotion, you make your case in terms of the criteria for just war given above. Then it will be possible to engage in a constructive conversation with you.

      Delete
    6. Nice piece of propaganda Mr. Anonymous.

      There is no legitimate excuse for what Putin is doing.

      Delete
    7. That's a very good illustration.

      You have tried to give the best reasons for invasion, and one of the main reasons proved to be insulting nicknames...

      In fact, just about every reason you listed seems to be about hurting Russian national vainglory (even casualties of the "previous" war can be traced back to reasons for that war, which are going to be similar).

      I wonder if we will get a post about pride, vainglory, humility, respect and the like.

      After all, so many problems today (from "transgenders" to this war) are related to all those subjects...

      Delete
    8. Gentlemen Americans! I didn't expect you to understand my words.

      I had no doubt that here I would be declared an agent of Putin or a gullible simpleton fooled by Putin's propaganda.

      Wake up, finally! What kind of media independence in the USA are you talking about?! This is just ridiculous! A journalist works for money and very rarely for an idea. Recent events have shown that the standards of Western journalism, which have always been pointed out to us in Russia as a role model, have turned out to be a myth. Western journalism is an ordinary propaganda, nothing more.

      I understand that most of those present here consider the United States to be the second Roman Empire, which is allowed to curb barbarians. I don't expect sympathy from you. Even if America were on the side of absolute evil, you would still support your government.

      Daniel, you write here that you have looked at Wikipedia. I won't argue with her. Do you really get all your information from an amateur, unscientific and constantly changing resource? But something else is scary. Your arithmetic is terrible. Even if Kiev killed only 7,000 civilians in Donbas, not 14,000, how can you support this regime?! In the USA, the death of 3,000 people in the explosion of the twin towers was a national tragedy, and here Kiev destroyed 3 civilians every day for 8 years. EVEN BEFORE THIS WAR! Then someone mockingly asked, why don't I call all this a special military operation? I am not a diplomat or a politician. I leave you, American citizens, the right to be sophisticated in euphemisms. It was your politicians who called the brutal bombing of Yugoslavia "peace enforcement", which was the height of hypocrisy.

      What kind of diabolical arithmetic is this? 7000 Russians are not people? "Alley of Angels" in Donetsk - does it mean anything? Is the 149 Russian children killed by Kiev nothing?
      You Americans would be pleased if, for example, there was an anti-American regime in Mexico, and the nationalists would sing:If you want to be okay, kill the Yankees every day!
      And the Ukrainian Nazis sing "Москаляку на гиляку!" This means: Hang all Muscovites on the gallows!

      But you call everything propaganda, which does not fit into the framework of the opinion of your State Department.

      And here it's not about insulting my national pride as a Russian. And not in our swagger and vanity. And the fact that you support ethno-cultural racism, you are approaching the Russian borders. What for? After the example of Yugoslavia and other countries you attacked, the Russians understand that they will be your next victim. As long as we have nuclear weapons, but this protection cannot be eternal. Ukraine was asked for only 2 concessions - neutral status and the cessation of the persecution of Russians and our language. But the West really wanted to build an Anti-Russia. I have been reading Ukrainian history textbooks for several years in a row, which tell how Russians have persecuted and tortured Ukrainians since the Neolithic, what wonderful heroes Bandera and Shukhevych were. For 30 years you have raised a generation of Russophobes in Ukraine.
      What for?

      Since March 2nd, nothing has been heard about our relatives in Mariupol. The soldiers of Ukraine do not let them out of the city.

      I can't write here anymore. Emotions are suffocating me. If only God had made it so that everything could return to 1991, when Russians and Ukrainians did not even think of war! When President Yushchenko had not yet awarded Bandera the title of Hero of Ukraine No. 1... When you have not yet stuffed Ukraine with a mass of weapons....
      If history could be rewritten!

      And now tear me up, call me a chauvinist, Putin's agent and a zombie of Russian propaganda!

      Pavel. Russia

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    9. Now I see that the West behaves with Russians like white gentlemen with despicable niggers in the old days. This is an ordinary ethno-cultural racism.

      Hah. Of the many things Pavel said showing the emptiness of his thesis, this is among the worst. It's sheer nonsense to think that the so-called "russophobia" that the wild-eyed left has for Russians is even remotely like the combined arrogance and detestation white gentlemen had toward their slaves. For one thing, the far left is perfectly fine with that part of Russian intelligentsia that has fallen in with wokeness - small as that may be. For another, they haven't built up the generations-long assumption of moral (as well as intellectual and other kinds of) superiority to fuel their hatred: why only a generation ago they were grinding their teeth at the fact that the communist Russian overlords were disclosed NOT to be the pristine, peaceful, loving caretakers that they (the left) had been claiming since the 1920s. There are a few liberals left who remember those days.

      What one must remember is that the media is geared to froth at the mouth and to escalate "awareness"; and whatever "trend" it displays is likely to be 1/10 as broad as they want us to believe. Frothing at Russians is just another example: there aren't enough lefties who can even point to the Ukraine on a world map to get truly riled about Russians.

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    10. “Wake up, finally! What kind of media independence in the USA are you talking about?! This is just ridiculous! A journalist works for money and very rarely for an idea. Recent events have shown that the standards of Western journalism, which have always been pointed out to us in Russia as a role model, have turned out to be a myth. Western journalism is an ordinary propaganda, nothing more.”

      Yes, but we have multiple media sources. They coexist. The truth is to be found if you sift through all of them carefully. It shouldn’t be that hard, but I believe it is still possible.

      “Daniel, you write here that you have looked at Wikipedia. …. hypocrisy.”

      What I got from the sources I found in wikipedia is the following:

      “Casualties in the Russo-Ukrainian War included six deaths during the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, and thousands of deaths of civilians and military forces during the war in Donbas “

      This seems to be where the war starts and the casualties start happening.

      “United Nations
      13,100–13,300 killed 6 April 2014 – 31 January 2021
      Ukrainian government
      14,000 killed 6 April 2014 – 13 May 2021”

      The UN and the Ukraine seem to agree on this number, although it does not distinguish between civilians or combatants.

      “United Nations
      Civilians 3,393 killed (312 foreign) 6 April 2014 – 30 September 2021 “

      This number from the UN mentions civilians, but does not mention whether they are all Ukrainian or Russian or a mix of both. It is a large number. I agree.

      “Museum of Military History
      UAF, NGU and volunteer forces 4,641 killed 6 April 2014 – 23 February 2022
      United Nations & DPR
      DPR and LPR forces 5,772 killed 6 April 2014 – 11 February 2022
      US State Department
      Russian Armed Forces 400–500 killed 6 April 2014 – 10 March 2015 “

      I don’t know how reliable any of these sources are. But my question to you is this: Do you know if the civilians that died are all Russian? Also, would these civilians have died if they Russians did not forcibly annex the region thus causing a civil war?

      I get that you are angry – but please provide me with different number. Also I am not minimizing the death of these 3000 civilians. It is tragic.

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    11. Dear Daniel,
      I see that you are a kind person. I don't want to give you any links to sources of information. I can do it, but I won't.

      I'll just give you a simple example: my sister's cousin is now drafted into the army of the Donetsk People's Republic. He is a citizen of Ukraine. But he is fighting against Kiev. All our Donetsk relatives are citizens of Ukraine. Several million people live in both people's republics. Of these, 800,000 have already received Russian passports. What for? They were afraid of terror.

      My sister's niece came to us - a very pretty girl, a lawyer by education. She didn't want to leave Ukraine, but she had to. Although here she will have to retrain, because Russian laws are different. But she got a Russian passport.

      The Kiev authorities claim that Putin has brought Russian troops there and annexed these territories, but what about these civilians? Did Putin bring them there too? Kiev propaganda deceives, taking advantage of the fact that the whole difference between Ukrainians from the eastern regions of Ukraine and Russians is only in different passports. Ethnically and culturally we are indistinguishable.

      If you believe the stories that the evil Putin took away the east of the country from the good Bandera and brought troops there, then find on the Internet the famous speech of President Poroshenko, where he explains how Kiev will win the war from the "separatists". He says there that the population of these regions will regret that they separated. Kiev declares a blockade against them. He says that Ukrainian citizens will receive pensions and child benefits, but the separatists will not. He says that the children of Ukrainians will go to schools and kindergartens, and the children of separatists will hide in basements. Because the separatists do not know how to do anything, they are inferior. And they'll be asking back soon. And therefore Kiev will win the war.

      Here is a fragment of this speech:
      https://www.instagram.com/tv/CasZHuuAoH8/

      If the east was occupied by the Russians, then to whom did Poroshenko address these words? What kind of people did he want to drive into the basements and strangle with a blockade? Not the Russian army! He addresses his people in the East. He threatens the people of his country...

      If you want to find alternative opinions, then you will find them. And there is no particular problem for us to get through to the Western media. But what will we hear there? Propaganda, no better than that of any other propagandist.

      I'm not angry at all. I'm just a very emotional person.
      For you it is something far away, for us it is here. This happens to our family and friends.

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    12. I get it. For you, and for most Russians, what happened in 2014 was a move to protect Russian speaking Ukraines. Its personal. And the leadership in Ukraine was actively demonizing the separatists. Treating them like dirt. You guys care about them and wanted to protect them. Perhaps its as simple as that. Its not the first time a minority gets persecuted by a majority that is for all intents and purposes, indistinguishable from one another, apart from language.

      It reminds me of the Rwandan genocide a bit. They have any dehumanization laws on the books there now. I see a lot of dehumanization going on throughout the world these days. It is the precursor to acts of war and savagery.

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    13. Of course, if a region separates, they can not expect to receive pensions, access to schools and healthcare etc from the state that they separated from, that's just logic, is it not? They have to use that which is on their own territory. Likewise, when Soviet Union disbanded, each successive country had to solve those things on their own. I heard that in one of those separated territories there is a very large steel industry and that the whole separationism was motivated by Russia government wanting to gain control of that. I live in a country where currently Ukrainians flee towards so I am also watching this closely. I am happy to learn more about your take on why did the Donetsk and Luhansk separate - whether that civil war was "just" in the sense of this article. Can you point me to serious sources? I do not trust Russian sources that do not call a war a war, and probably one can not trust Ukrainian sources either to the full extent. I speak a little Russian, I think I can manage with an independent Russian-speaking source. You are the first person I met who claims some relatives in Donetsk so I would like to learn more about it, thanks for your comments.

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    14. @ Oktavian:

      However, how does any of this justify this war and its evil consequence? That the American Empire is guilty of horrible crimes and has gotten away with them does not mean we cannot condemn this war. That would be whataboutism.

      On the one hand, yes.

      On the other hand, if you keep co-operating while your opponents keep defecting, you just encourage them to defect further and weaken your own position. There's a reason why, e.g., the Geneva Conventions only apply reciprocally.

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    15. Dear Foxie, if you don't want to read Russian sources, but you don't trust Western ones either, then what independent sources can I give you? Chinese? Indian? But they are very far from these problems. Although the Chinese government publicly emphasizes that the West is to blame for fueling the conflict and that the problem is very complex and has a long history.

      Unfortunately, this is a war of civilizations - Eastern European and Western European, the leader of which is now the United States. We don't have independent parties who would fly in from another planet and impartially assess the situation. Try to look for alternative opinions and data in American sources. After all, your compatriot told me here that you have access to all sources and different opinions.

      As for me, I can only talk about my family and myself. The last time I was in Ukraine was in 2013.
      I have already written about my relatives in Donetsk and Mariupol here. It all started in 2014, when, with the support of the West, the Orange Maidan overthrew President Yanukovych, who was a compromise between pro-Russian forces and the West. Crimea went to Russia and it was not an annexation. Crimea has traditionally been pro-Russian. Since that time, anti-Russian hysteria, the undisguised terror of Bandera began in Ukraine. Journalists, deputies, and just supporters of friendship with Russia were killed. Donbass and Lugansk were bombed. I know all this firsthand, this is communication with people in Ukraine. In recent years, our relatives have been afraid to talk on the phone, thinking that they are being eavesdropped on by Ukrainian intelligence. Paranoia has spread in their country.

      This is an abscess that your country skillfully created. And now it's broken through in such a terrible way.

      Look at how nationalists are now identifying "Russian spies." They make you pronounce the word "palyanitsa" (паляница) quickly. If you are a Russian speaker, it will be difficult for you to pronounce this word without a Russian accent. Now for this word you can be beaten or just killed...

      This is called shibboleth. It's a word from the Bible. Among culturologists, it denotes a cultural marker by which a stranger is separated from his own.

      Is this normal for the European people? For the European civilization, which boasts of its tolerance and at the same time exposes Russians to persecution and segregation. What do you think?

      Pavel.

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    16. Pavel, Let's assume that everything you say is true and not just a fantasy world created for you by Putin's propaganda. Nothing you said could possibly justify negotiating an evacuation corridor for civilians and then shelling it when they try to use it or doing the same in another city and mining the corridor. That is pure evil, and your lame attempts to rationalize Putin's evil makes you complicit in it.

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    17. Dear Fred, you are going under the influence of American propaganda!

      It's not Putin or the Russians who are shooting at people being evacuated! This is done by Ukrainian nationalists. The nationalists don't let them out. I do not know what it looks like for you that I am writing here with the help of an electronic translator. It is possible that the comments I have written are not very clear to you.

      I repeat, my relatives have nothing to do with propaganda. These are ordinary people and they do not want the power of nationalists.

      Some people here say I'm anonymous. Someone wrote that I am a Putin propagandist. I am an ordinary person, a historian, I have a PhD degree.
      If you don't believe that I exist, I can give you a link to a historical magazine that has my page as a permanent author. I am not afraid to reveal my identity, just as Dr. Feser is not afraid of it.

      Pavel.

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    18. @Gaius

      Indeed, how one must deal with American salami tactics is a good question. Do you propose that Russia is therefore justified in launching this war because of incremental American encroachments?

      For example, let us say that Russia has no other means at its disposal. America keeps chipping away at Russian security. What should Russia do? Should she stay put because none of these individual moves is "proportional" to a full scale war? Or should a calculation be made: the sum total of American actions, both foreseeable and already taken, makes this war proportional. By analogy, if a playground bully taunts you, an equal response is generally insufficient. You have to strike harder to send a strong message, that you aren't playing around. Besides, the retaliation doesn't just cover the injustice of the act, but the evil of the intention itself and the intention to continue to taunt and harass.

      At this point, I must plead ignorance and claim that it isn't obvious to me what options Russia has. I would be surprised if there weren't any other way in which Russia could respond to American encroachment. But since this has been carrying on for some time (recall Georgia), it does suggest that Russia is not capable of responding otherwise, or else they would already have done so.

      And of course, all of this ignores Russian imperial ambition as a factor.

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    19. @Pavel, I am not an American, I was born in Europe. Historical hint: Varsavian pact came to my country to conduct a "military operation" in 1968. Another hint: Russian Propaganda still claims there were helping us to prevent a coup or something. No, we just wanted a little more freedom. We were less brave than Ukrainians (also had a much weaker army and more dependence on the Eastern bloc) and the result was "Normalization" and cca 30 years more of a totalitarian regime.

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    20. Dear Foxie,

      Neither I nor any of the people currently living and in power in Russia are responsible for the suppression of the Hungarian or Czech pro-Western uprisings.

      We have practically no communists in Russia now. Support for the Communist Party has greatly decreased in recent years. I am a staunch anti-communist myself. My ancestors suffered from communism. I am an Orthodox Christian.

      It seems to me that making claims to each other about the sad pages of history is madness. Let me remember how much evil the Poles brought to the Russians during our Time of Troubles in the XVII century, Napoleon, the Anglo-French in the Crimean War, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Hitler, etc. What for?

      We must remember the lessons of history, but not be embittered against the peoples.

      I have no hatred for Catholics. Moreover, I have always seen in conservative, traditional Catholics and Protestants not enemies, but people who can understand the same conservative Orthodox. As it seemed to me, we have common opponents.

      I've been reading Dr. Feser's blog for a long time. And I can only join with applause many of his thoughts and articles.

      But now I see the struggle of two worlds. And the Western world, which 40 years ago sent us Bibles, protected our Christians from repression, has died. He's gone.

      Your Western world does not bring us freedom, but the slavery of leftist heresies, gender madness and anti-Christian ideas.

      The Russians don't need a new USSR or a new Warsaw Pact. We only want to protect our civilization, our traditions. Even communism, which the West exported to Russia as a contagious microbe, could not destroy them.


      Today, the Ukrainians hit Donetsk with a rocket again. 20 civilians were killed... In the morning I watch terrible shots of women and children lying on the streets, ordinary passers-by hurrying to the shops.

      Where are you, Western Christians? Why are you silent?

      Pavel.

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  7. Ed:

    Yet now it is liberals who are most prone to exhibit exactly these traits they once attributed to conservatives. What accounts for this bizarre reversal? I would submit that it has to do, in part, with Putin’s predilection for traditionalist Christian and anti-LGBT rhetoric... and in part with persistent left-wing attachment to fantasies about Russian interference with American elections.

    I suspect the RussiaGate nonsense has more to do with this invasion than we realize. For Democrats, that hoax was all about getting rid of Donald Trump. Even we on the right tend to think of it purely in terms of the horrible effect it had domestically.

    But how must that have looked from the perspective of a Russian that American liberals (the ruling political force in America even when Trump was President) were whipping up insane, irrational hatred against Russians by half the US population, and that half the US population was going along with it?

    The crazed overreaction that has followed the invasion (banning Russian cats from cat shows, banning disabled people of Russian nationality from the Paralympics, banning Russian vodka, firing people for being born Russian, etc) shows just how real and deep that insane ethnic hatred has been successfully programmed into liberals.

    And then those same liberals retook power, and it was very clear that Ukraine was being used as their proxy to go after Russia, as Zelensky had his pro-Russian political rival put under house arrest and had three pro-Russian TV stations banned from the airwaves as a gift to Biden shortly after his election.

    There are obviously a lot of complex, interlocking factors that led to this disaster rather than any one thing, but I suspect there are several individual things that, had they not happened, would have prevented or at least delayed the invasion, and I'm willing to be that RussiaGate is one of them. But I doubt even one single liberal crying crocodile tears for the Ukrainian people will stop to consider the possibility that this a consequences of his own lies and refusal to lose gracefully.

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  8. I agree 100% with the article. It’s weird to see people who were a couple of weeks ago claiming it was all NATOs fault that Russia was mobilising - and who rejected the Ukrainian people’s desire to join NATO because of the threat to their own freedom - suddenly switching to newly contrived narratives (or worse, doubling down on it after being proven wrong).

    The only addition I would make to the article is significant in my view. International affairs like this are about more than what is morally right. There are cat and mouse ‘games’ that have to be played when dealing with people like Putin. By stating early that US forces would not put boots on the ground in Ukraine, Biden effectively gave the green light to Putin that invading Ukraine would be the same as invading Chechnya, Georgia, Crimea etc. This was an unnecessary statement that made war more likely. It’s good to speak softly, but making it clear that you left the big stick at home is not always the right option.

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    Replies
    1. Putin did not invade Chechnya. For the simple reason that Chechnya is an integral part of the Russian Federation. When 45,000 US National Guard soldiers were brought into New Orleans in 2005 due to flooding, you don't call it the Bush invasion of New Orleans, do you?

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    2. I should add to the “100% agree” that these situations are rarely set as ‘black and white’. If we imagine a scenario where Putin takes control of Ukraine and wants to punish those who resisted him by setting up death camps aimed to eliminate ‘non-Russian’ people, then I’m not sure the arguments above hold. Yes, the threat of nuclear war will always make this existentially risky, which is not insignificant morally. However whilst we should always try to turn the other cheek as individuals, I wonder whether there are times when bullies need to be directly whatever the risks. A very lonely decision for any leader who is mentally healthy.

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    3. @Pavel I think this is a great response which shows how truly warped the narrative in Russia is. A better analogy would be if the UK sent troops into America, used cluster bombs on civilians, bombed hospitals, bombed full market places, shot families at checkpoints, shot aid workers etc. Then after killing tens of thousands of civilians (hundreds of thousands in total), installed a governor to replace Congress, Senate, President etc, declared that the USA was still part of the British Empire, and therefore this was all an internal matter...

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    4. Dear Simon Adams, your example is absurd and incorrect.

      Your comparison shows how much you do not understand the events of Russian history. The example shows how a false view of events is formed by the American media.

      The West has armed Chechen separatists. As a result of the terror in Chechnya, 50,000 Russians and Russian-speaking citizens were killed. The TV airwaves in the 1990s were filled with pictures of Chechen and Islamist terrorists cutting off Russian heads, hanging them and shooting them... These are terrible shots that were not shown on American TV.

      Russia was weak, it signed the Khasavyurt agreements. Chechnya was granted independence. Chechnya, however, did not build a peaceful economy. Instead, mass acts of terror began not only in the southern regions of Russia, but also in Moscow. The business of kidnapping Russians for ransom was established.

      Chechnya has become a nest of terrorism and plunged into a deep archaic
      In Chechnya itself, there were opponents of such a path of development. It was on them that Putin relied.

      Chechnya has never been like New England. This is a fantastically ridiculous comparison.

      Pavel.

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    5. Dear Simon Adams, I would like to make one more remark about Chechnya.

      You didn't live in Russia in the 1990s. I was a student, then a graduate student. I lived in Moscow, many hundreds of kilometers from Chechnya, but I remember the atmosphere of fear and horror that then gripped Russian society.

      I remember people running away in panic when they saw things or parcels left by someone on the street or in a store. I remember how almost all people ran out of the subway car if a Muslim woman in a traditional hijab entered there.

      When I go to meet my wife from work on Pushkin Square, I pass by a modest monument depicting a bronze flower. This monument is dedicated to the victims of the explosion in the underpass. Every day I drive past Paveletskaya station. there I see a large board with the names of 41 victims of an explosion staged by Chechen terrorists.

      Of course, you, like some other Americans, can say that the lives of hundreds and thousands of Russians are worthless, they are not a reason for the liberation of Chechnya from terrorists. You can even blame Putin himself for these numerous terrorist attacks. But that would be the height of cynicism. This will only show that the Americans are no better than the Nazis....

      I cannot, I do not want to believe that the population of a great country is entirely ethno-cultural Nazis.

      And what does the deeply respected Dr. Feser, for whom I pray daily, think as a non-Orthodox friend?

      Was Putin fair in suppressing Chechen terrorists? Look at the city of Grozny with its skyscrapers now and then, in the 1990s. Is this a colony?:

      https://mtdata.ru/u30/photo16EB/20970143055-0/original.jpg

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    6. The acts of terrorism were wrong, wherever the took place. Whether in Moscow, London, or Washington DC. I worked in DC, and every day rode past the nightmare of the explosion at the Pentagon in 2011. My friends were first responders at the Pentagon, and you could see the horror on their faces for not just days, but months and years after.

      Suppression of terrorism by legal and moral means is good - and that includes just war if necessary. I don't have knowledge of what Putin did in addressing the problem.

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    7. Dear Tony, but I, a Russian, know that Putin did everything right. He stopped this nightmare, he stopped the slave trade. He defeated the terrorists and established the Kadyrov regime in Chechnya. The whole of Russia was rebuilding Chechnya. Chechnya has become better than in central Russia, where Russians live.

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    8. Hi Pavel. I do not doubt the terrorism and the impact of it. When I first started working in London there were constant bomb threats on the trains from the IRA, and they blew up a building by my office. However your account of what generated the terrorism differs from my understanding. The whole soviet experience was devastating to the Chechens. Stalin’s forced deportations in 1944 included the murder of hundreds of thousands. It’s difficult to imagine what it would be like being born somewhere else of course, but when I read of their experience under Russian rule, maybe I would also have become a terrorist fighting for the freedom of my people.

      So just like the solution to Ireland has been about accepting the hurt caused, recognising the devastating cruelty of the past, there will always be a problem there. Using force and strength to solve these problems never works in the end, either they fight back in whatever way they can, or you destroy them completely, and loose your soul.

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    9. Dear Simon Adams,

      You and many others here claim that many peoples have historical claims to the Russians.

      In other words, Russians are being made guilty for the crimes of Marxists.

      Let's think together, is this normal?

      Look: my grandfather Alexey Ermolov was killed by the Germans in March 1942 near Rzhev.

      If I follow your logic, I should hate the Germans. Isn't it? Germany is a member of NATO. So I should hate NATO for killing my grandfather?

      Another example: The Marxists, under the leadership of the Jew Trotsky and the half-Jew Lenin, deprived my ancestors of their estates and land in the Tula region. Should I become an anti-Semite and wish for the destruction of Israel?

      The third example: the Georgian Stalin killed several of my ancestors as a result of the Great Terror. Should I hate Georgians?

      I think you understand that with such a strange logic, we will all hate each other.

      I agree with you that it is necessary to recognize the difficult past and not to lose your soul. The only trouble is that the West obliges only Russians to repent and admit their sins. They must die and repent, repent and die. Moreover, they must repent for the sins of others.

      I think you Americans should stop demonizing the Russians.

      But your media always demonize Russians.

      Pavel.

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    10. Hi Pavel

      I am not American, I’m British. I’m certainly not one to demonise Russians, I know enough Russians to know that you’re not demons :). I also know how much Russia has changed since I first visited there in 1989. I also don’t think “Russians” as a whole are guilty of what happened in Chechnya and Georgia, nor what is happening in Ukraine now. There are many brave Russians dead or in jail for trying to stand up for free journalism, for opposing Putin, or protesting against this new war. Once you have a dictator in power, especially one with some support, it’s very difficult to change that.

      Also one of the main sources of income for Russia is clearly threatened by all the oil and gas discovered in Ukraine and Crimea. The majority is off the coast of Crimea, but of course Ukraine cut off the water supply after it was taken in 2014, and so securing this is an understandable strategic aim (ignoring any moral questions). I don’t really think Putin cares about what happened in Donbas, if he did he wouldn’t be bombing civilians and hospitals. It’s all about Oil and gas, a winter port, and recovering ‘lost glory’ of the past he blames Gorbachev and Yeltsin for ‘loosing’.

      What I don’t think you can do is equate a philosophy (like Marxism) for the ongoing violent occupation/control of a state. I don’t think it’s in anyway easy to undo this past damage. We see this in many places, but we only see ‘truth and reconciliation’ type of initiatives as starting the healing.

      What we are seeing in Ukraine will do the opposite. There is a very long road to fixing the genuine anger of the population losing family members every day, becoming homeless, refugees.

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    11. Dear Simon Adams,

      I don't believe through and through the lying Ukrainian media.
      I made up my opinion about your Western media already in the last Chechen war. I remember how the West shed tears for the unfortunate Chechen women and children, accusing the federal army of destroying civilians. Meanwhile, we saw Chechen-Arab terrorists killing our people, cutting off their heads. But the West did not cry for these people. He cried for the gangs of Basayev, Umarov and other devils.

      Sobering up among the Russians came only when the terrorists began to blow up the Moscow metro, train stations and seized the Nord-Ost theater.

      Since then, only liberal fanatics have believed in the West.

      As soon as Western people stop supporting Zelensky's American puppet, peace will come to Ukraine.

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    12. Hi Pavel

      It’s ironic that Putin’s propaganda is so effective, because its straight out of the Nazi playbook (tell big enough lies and people will believe them). Now you have Putin’s media calling Zelensky a Nazi, even though he is jewish.

      Of course this sounds very much like Yanukovych claiming that Yushchenko was a nazi, even though his father was imprisoned by the Nazis, and his mother hid jews from the Nazis. Then of course Russia poisoned Yushchenko, just as Russia has done to so many of Putin’s enemies (including Sergei Skripal and his daughter here in the UK).

      To call Zelensky a puppet when the people of Ukraine are choosing to fighting under him to hold back hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers with the latest Russian tanks, jets and missiles, should be a clue to you about which version of reality is correct. It’s not the one that comes from the dictator…

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    13. Dear Simon Adams,

      I have already told you that I don't care at all what the "evil Putin propaganda" says. I have connections with the East of Ukraine, our relatives live there. And they are against Kiev and Zelensky.


      For you, Westerners, the tragedy of the Second World War is the horrors of the Holocaust, the death of millions of Jews. For us, Russians, this is the death of 27.5 million citizens of the USSR. Of this fantastic number of victims of the European Nazis, only 13 million are soldiers and partisans. The rest are civilians.

      Do you wonder how a Jew Zelensky can be called a Nazi? And how can a rich Jew Kolomoisky support Bandera-Nazi groups? It's a mystery to me. These are grimaces of postmodern consciousness.

      I will give you such an example. We have a well-known anti-Putin publicist and writer Dmitry Bykov in Russia. He is a full-blooded Jew, his real name is Silbertrud.

      You will probably think that he curses the Nazis who killed millions of his fellow tribesmen in the 1930s-1940s?
      You will be mistaken if you think so. Bykov considers General Vlasov a national hero. Ask who Vlasov is. This is a Nazi war criminal.

      Moreover, Bykov has repeatedly expressed the opinion that today every honest person in Russia should curse the Soviet Army for defeating Hitler.

      Now do you realize that you are simply far from the political realities of Russia and Ukraine? Don't be fooled by Western propaganda.

      As for the Skripals and other "enemies of Putin," even smart opponents of Putin laugh at these examples in Russia. You trust Hollywood movies too much. But cinema is not life.

      Putin is not one person. Putin is a whole political class in power. Minor CIA employees pose no threat to him. Moreover, it would be madness to think that Putin destroys his opponents in such a ridiculous and complicated way.

      Pavel.

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    14. Dear Simon Adams,

      One more remark. I will not even comment on the story about the poisoning of Yushchenko by Putin because of its obvious stupidity.

      But you have given some correct facts. Indeed, Yushchenko's father was a war veteran and prisoner of Auschwitz.
      However, it was Yushchenko who recognized Shukhevych and Bandera as national heroes.

      Here is a video from the Bandera award ceremony:
      https://yandex.ru/video/preview/?text=%D1%8E%D1%89%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%BA%D0%BE%20%D0%BD%D0%B0%D0%B3%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B6%D0%B4%D0%B0%D0%B5%D1%82%20%D0%B1%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B4%D0%B5%D1%80%D1%83%20%D0%B7%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%B5%D0%BC%20%D0%B3%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%BE%D1%8F%20%D1%83%D0%BA%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B8%D0%BD%D1%8B%20%D0%B2%D0%B8%D0%B4%D0%B5%D0%BE&path=yandex_search&parent-reqid=1647342349113392-1126259163374106618-vla1-5292-vla-l7-balancer-8080-BAL-7734&from_type=vast&filmId=6234601864725824823

      How did Hitler's accomplice, the Ukrainian Nazi Bandera, become a national hero for Yushchenko? It's a mystery to me. This does not fit into the head of a normal person.

      Now in Ukraine, the Nazis are divided into right and wrong. They like to remember that Bandera was in a Nazi concentration camp. Of course, he did not sit like the millions of people who were killed there.

      Some Nazis were also in Nazi prisons. Remember Salashi and the members of the Crossed Arrows Party.

      Pavel.

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    15. Hi Pavel

      It is of course true that just because someone is jewish, it does not mean that they can’t be a Nazi - even Hitler is said to have had some jewish ancestry. What I am pointing out is that Putin’s whole narrative is seriously warped, and I’m actually surprised that you fall for it. Some educated and informed Russians understand that Putin manipulates the story, and uses fear and violence to maintain his position, but prefer the order he brings to the post soviet chaos and criminality, so turn a blind eye to it for the sake of their homeland and an easy life and their own safety. You seem intelligent and fairly well informed, but fall for even the most crazy stuff.

      The poisoning of the Skripals was beyond any doubt a GRU operation. This happened in the UK and the evidence is overwhelming. The idea that two GRU officers would go on holiday together, to visit Salisbury (which just happened to have someone living there that Putin considered an enemy of Russia), and leave traces of a very rare nerve agent in the hotel they stayed in, which was then used to poison the Skripals just days later, is evidence by itself. When you add that to the rest of the evidence, the story they came up with afterwards is laughable. That is the only “Hollywood fiction” there. I agree completely that it’s very strange for the GRU to use a rare Russian nerve agent to do this, just as it was for the FSO to use a rare Polonium isotope to poison Litvinenko, but the facts speak for themselves. The UK is certainly not free from corruption, and not free from politicians that bend the truth for all kinds of reasons. We also have a media which broadly sees the world through a materialist, sensationalist lens, with an eye that ignores some issues for unhealthy reasons (like muslim extremists massacring villages in Africa). However one thing that Russians (and Chinese) who don’t spend much time in the west don’t often appreciate is that with a free and open society, you also have thousands of journalists who would love to prove the government wrong, or catch them in a lie. We also have “freedom of information” laws to make sure they can investigate where they suspect this is the case.

      This makes all the difference, no matter how gullible the public, or how devious the politician, we will always have a better chance of understanding the reality than a country that is not open, and where the state monitors and controls the media.

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  9. Excellent theoretical analysis of the just war theory and how it applies to this situation. . .However, there is not nearly enough consideration of the recent history, beginning in 2008, especially the U.S. facilitated coup in 2014, and subsequent arming of Ukraine. This is how the Ukraine war upon us today began: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiJTvAnDeIU

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  10. FWIW, I often disagree with Prof. Feser's articles, but I agree with most of this except the usual insinuation that it's "the libs" who started and fueled the greater part of the bipartisan mistrust that we now have in America.

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    1. Ficino

      I fully agree. That doesn't mean the 'libs'are completely innocent.
      But it's posts like this one by Feser that add to the polarization.
      Thé main problem is that each party believes it is right and the others are wrong. Most of the time it's not all black or white.


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  11. Dr. Feser:

    I am a speaker of Russian who has watched and read most of the relevant official statements by Russian leadership justifying their policies. One of the justifications for this war that has been repeatedly and explicitly cited by the Russian leadership in its public statements is the claim that, during the collapse of the Soviet empire, Soviet and Russian leadership had been assured that NATO would not take advantage of this collapse to absorb the parts of that empire that the USSR and Russia had relinquished without serious attempts to use force to prevent this outcome (though I can hear Lithuanians of a certain age objecting already), and would no longer treat Russia as an adversary. According to the Russian leaders, the security demands issued by the Russian government before the present war were an attempt to negotiate an amelioration of the US's and NATO's subsequent and blatant violations of this understanding -- an attempt which was summarily, and high-handedly, dismissed. Contrasting their own behavior with that of the US, Russian leadership has explicitly charged the US with lies, hypocrisy, and self-dealing. This factors into their assessment of NATO as a gathering threat.

    The Russian leadership also emphasizes that the Ukrainian government has, for years, refused to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, instead continuing intermittent military operations against the Russian-sponsored separatist entities in Donetsk and Lugansk/Luhansk, which were renewed with greater intensity upon the inauguration of President Biden, prosecuting pro-Russian public figures, promoting Ukranian language at the expense of Russian, et cetera.

    My question is not focused on litigating these Russian claims. I am interested in how your application of just-war theory to the present situation yields different conclusions from your earlier application of that theory to the 2003 Iraq War, with particular attention to the issue of "jus ad bello," the justification for a decision to use military force at all.

    After the war, you argued that the 2003 war was neither preemptive nor preventative, but punitive: that Iraq had violated obligations imposed by the 1991 cease-fire, and that the war and intended destruction of the Iraqi state was a proportionate punishment for these violations. In the event, these violations were revealed to have been more technical than substantiative. You also argued that, since the Iraqi state which the war neither ruled justly, nor intended to comply with its cease-fire obligations, its destruction and replacement was a net benefit. These are intended as summaries of portions of your arguments, and I beg pardon if I have misunderstood them.

    Do you still judge that there substantial differences between the justice of the US choice for war then and the Russian choice now, or have your views on the 2003 war changed? I ask this not to catch you out -- I personally invaded Iraq in 2003 as a member of the combat forces, and returned there in the same capacity for two additional tours, despite openly characterizing WMD, in 2002, as a "pretext" for the unforced destruction of the existing Iraqi state apparatus. In 2002, I judged that the only sensible policies toward Iraq were (a) terminating attempts to influence the course of events internal to Iraq or (b) attacking and destroying the Iraqi state. So I knew what I was doing. My own judgment is that I willingly participated in an unjust war, based on a self-serving misjudgment of the seriousness of the threat posed by the prewar situation, as well as by an unrealistic estimate of the likely effects of the war itself.

    What is your judgment of this case? Should that influence our understanding of our standing to condemn or penalize Russia for its policies in regards to Ukraine?

    Thank you for your thoughts.

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    1. @Paul It’s worth remembering that countries that join NATO generally do so as the free choice of the citizens. People don’t want totalitarianism, they don’t want “war for glory”, they don’t want to be afraid for their lives when speaking the truth. So all of your initial comments are nullified - those who frame arguments at the level of state or ideology without taking into account the dignity of the individual life is set to lose the moral argument.

      In terms of Iraq, resolution 1441 speaks to the fact that there was a consensus that a line had been crossed (yet again). The blame for Iraq should fall 100% on the Pentagon’s insistence on disbanding the standing Iraqi army. Making a million trained soldiers unemployed, when you don’t have the will or enough boots on the ground to secure the peace and rebuild infrastructure, was an act of sheer incompetence. And yes, the Cheyne / Haliburton gravy train that followed was immoral in every sense. Don’t let any of that confuse you on the moral question. I think it always helps to try and reduce international affairs down to states as houses on a street. When you do that, it’s far easier to see who is the bully causing the problem.

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    2. Okay, let's consider this as houses on the street.

      Several years back, there was a thing that happened. Mr. Hussein broke into the home of his neighbor, Al Emir, and started shoving his kids around -- Mr. Emir, pansy that he is, ran off when he saw Hussein and his boys coming. Emir went to his buddy Sam for help. Sam rounded up a posse of his friends, brought them over to Mr. Saud's house across the street, and hollered over to Hussein that he'd better get the hell out of Al's house. Hussein said, "Yeah, bring it, punk." So Sam and his buddies went over and beat the crap out of Hussein and his boys, and they ran off. Hussein's oldest ended up in the hospital, and his wife was so mad that she started throwing stuff at him. Sam laughed and figured Hussein's stuff would be in the front yard the next day.

      It turned out that Hussein, nasty bastard that he is, beat his wife until she was quiet, and that got his kids in line. Sam kept hanging out at Al's and Saud's houses, though, and screwing with Hussein, since he wouldn't move out. Sam rifled through Hussein's mail, and threw rocks throw his windows, and kicked his dog periodically, and told Hussein's kids that their dad was a bastard, which was true, but *come on*. It got so bad with Sam's harassment that neither Hussein or his kids ever went out anymore, but Hussein didn't take off, and he made damn sure that his wife kept her mouth shut. Now, during this time, Mr. Saud's kid actually slashed Sam's tires and bashed out his car windows, but Sam didn't get mad -- go figure. Sam was having fun at Al's and Saud's houses, but he got tired of petty vandalism after a while, and he'd heard from a friend of a friend of a friend that maybe Hussein was looking to buy a gun from a guy? even though he couldn't go out anymore? so Sam figured he'd cut to the chase.

      Sam rounded up all his boys in Al's yard (he couldn't get his friends to come out this time, they said he was being a jerk), and he hollered over to Hussein that he'd better get the hell out, or they were coming in after him. Hussein just yelled back that Sam had better stay off his lawn. Sam wasn't going to take that from a damn wife-beater, so he broke into Hussein's house and killed him. Yeah, no kidding. Killed him dead. Hussein's wife and daughters weren't sorry to see him end up like that, but his sons were pretty mad, although they were scared of Sam and his boys at first, for obvious reasons.

      Now, Sam ended up sleeping with Hussein's wife -- call it a fling in the aftermath of him showing what a big man he was -- but neither of them was interested in anything long-term. Hussein's wife took up with the neighbor on the other side, a guy named Percy, and her daughters started in with Percy's sons, if you can believe it. Sam and his boys were kind of put out with this, and they thought about killing Percy too, because it wasn't like they'd never fought with him. But they ended up chickening out, though the whole thing still gets to them, and every once in a while they still think about killing Percy, then just settle for burning his car or shooting his dog. What can I say, it's a rough neighborhood.

      So I could tell a story about Grandpa Nick's extended family, and about how Joe killed Nick and took his wife, and then after Joe got old and died the family went their separate ways, and cousin Julie took up with Sam and his boys, who are kind of trouble, and then Joe's grandson told Julie she should stop letting Sam grab her butt out in public like that, and giving the grandson the stinkeye. Everybody knows what Sam does when he decides he doesn't like somebody, and he's just gonna knock Julie up and leave her hanging... but I think that the story would be even longer. Let's go back to the first story, with Hussein. At what point did Sam start being an asshole?

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  12. - the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
    - all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
    - there must be serious prospects of success;


    So I have a worry about these three criteria, and how they're usually applied.

    As a thought experiment, let's suppose that Russia's worst nightmares come to pass,* and that the US manages to get all its neighbours, both in Europe and in Central and Eastern Asia, into NATO, and puts troops and missiles in them all, all aimed at Russia. Now, having troops and missiles nearby isn't ipso facto damaging as long as they aren't used, and presumably with each NATO expansion there would always be a chance, no matter how remote, that Russia could stop further expansion through diplomatic means. Consequently, while NATO is setting up shop around Russia's borders, Russia couldn't justly wage war to stop them, because criteria 1 and 2 wouldn't be met. But then, once NATO bases are placed on all Russia's borders, it's hard to see how Russia could win any conflict, meaning that NATO could basically force Russia to do what it wanted with the threat of military action (and Russia wouldn't justly be able to resist, because of condition 3). So it seems that just war theory would, in such circumstances, force Russia to do nothing while it's surrounded and vassalised by a rival power bloc. But this seems, frankly, rather absurd. So is there something I'm missing here, or are the criteria used to determine whether a war is just or not too stringent, and we should use a less strict standard (e.g., whether the damage inflicted would be lasting, grave, and *probable*, perhaps with the level of probability needed to make a war just depending on the level of destruction the war is likely to cause)?

    * NB I'm not saying that they will come to pass, or that there's a reasonable chance they will, or that Ukraine joining NATO would be close enough to the scenario I outline to justify Russian military intervention.

    Yet now it is liberals who are most prone to exhibit exactly these traits they once attributed to conservatives. What accounts for this bizarre reversal?

    I wonder whether it's simply about which side has the most to lose. In the 1980s, conservatives were widely considered, including by themselves, as the cultural mainstream, with liberals the counter-cultural outsiders. Hence conservatives (thought that they) had more to lose from a change in the status quo, and more reason to fear outside powers trying to change things generally. Nowadays it's increasingly the opposite: liberals are increasingly recognising and making use of their control over the levers of society (arguably they had a lot of control even back in the '80s, but remember we're talking about what people thought was true, not what was actually true), with conservatives recognising that they're no longer part of the mainstream. Hence it's liberals who now have more to fear from a change in the status quo.

    Also, Russia in the 1980s was a communist, i.e., left-wing, country, so Russian interference could reasonably be expected to move things in a leftward direction. Now Russia is more associated with religion and nationalism and religious nationalism, all of which are viewed as more right-wing causes.

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    1. force Russia to do nothing while it's surrounded and vassalised by a rival power bloc.

      You are missing the question of whether "NATO" (which is a conglomerate of over 2 dozen countries with a LOT of different internal politics) has any history at all of hostile expansionism into a country that doesn't want it. I not aware of any. Given the intense pacifism that runs rampant in some of the countries of Europe (i.e. the ones closer to any Russian conflict than US, Canada, and Britain), the likelihood of NATO changing to become a hostile expansionist force is virtually nil. Russia's only real threat from NATO is a threat to ITS OWN expansionism. That cannot qualify for criterion 1 of the list.

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    2. You are missing the question of whether "NATO" (which is a conglomerate of over 2 dozen countries with a LOT of different internal politics) has any history at all of hostile expansionism into a country that doesn't want it.

      No, I'm deliberately ignoring it for the sake of constructing a thought experiment.

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    3. OK: for the sake of a thought experiment, it matters whether the neighbors under discussion have been law-abiding citizens peacefully going about ordinary business, or are violent thugs who constantly threaten you both directly and indirectly. For neighbors of the former sort, alliances between them for "security in the neighborhood" do not constitute a threat or danger, whereas for neighbors of the latter sort, alliances between them for "security" of the neighborhood constitute (or at least closely mirror) conspiracy to commit mayhem. So, again, if the thought experiment insists on prescinding from a question of "what kind of neighbors are we talking about", then the answer is "maybe: it depends."

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  13. Putin has not-so-subtly threatened to use nuclear weapons if the United States or other NATO countries intervene militarily in the conflict. The realistic prospect of such extreme escalation makes it impossible for such intervention to meet the Catechism’s fourth criterion, which emphasizes that “the power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.”

    Ed, almost everything else in your post is sensible, but this part has one huge gaping hole: it is at least arguable that Putin's (barely veiled) threat of nuclear war is not very realistic. For two reasons: (1) weather patterns and fallout. There is too much chance the winds will blow nuclear fallout into Russia proper. They don't want it. (2) If he initiates what ends up as a LIMITED nuclear exchange, Russia would become a world pariah for 2 to 3 generations, and Putin knows it. He would force the world to become united as enemies ranged against his regime. He would certainly fail to accomplish his larger goals. Putin, whatever his failings, cannot fail to recognize the danger of causing the rest of the world to unite against him.

    (If he initiates a global nuclear exchange, MAD makes all plans of secondary value, but at a minimum virtually ensures that Putin will not personally control much more than the inside of a very deep cave. And given that Ukraine and Russia would be the initial locus of attention for the bombs, Putin's beloved Russia would not fare better than anywhere else in the world, probably much worse.

    As it is, we can argue that Putin's sabre-rattling was meant only to rattle the gullible among the lily-livered West, and was not a credible threat.

    While I admire the general principle of first doing "everything else" short of direct, hot war, including such things as sanctions, we have now seen the practical results of such sanctions in the modern world several times, and frankly they have had little success. We tried it against Saddam's Iraq, and it failed. We tried it against Cuba, and it hasn't done anything there. We tried it against China for 23 years, until Nixon "went to China". We have tried it against North Korea, with no apparent benefit except that they have not (yet) exported their idiocy, and with the added cost has been constant preparing for non-nuclear war against them with an enormous commitment of effort. I have some hope for better success against Russia, but that's because I am a stupid optimist: the evidence suggests otherwise. Especially because China is not joining in the sanctions. The "all other options" mantra is, at this point, a nearly-empty jug.

    I am NOT arguing we should send troops. But I am could see close neighbors such as Poland and Romania doing so without violating just war principles - at least with respect to the worry of "escalating" to a global (and nuclear) war.

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  14. Does the CIA puppet regime in Kiev's relentless shelling of the Donbass region not count as lasting, grave, and certain damage? https://www.irishsavant.net/?p=1843

    As for the establishment of all these NATO bases right on Russia's borders (just a few hours' drive from Moscow), what are they supposed to do, just sit there and take it as the safety of their people is recklessly endangered by globohomo psychopaths? America didn't take it too kindly when the reverse happened in Cuba, and that was much farther than Ukraine is to Russia.

    And I also have to agree with Tim Finlay above that Ukraine has virtually no chance of success, failing to satisfy condition #3 for their retaliation.

    All this being said I'm not exactly rootin' for Putin myself, but to so unilaterally condemn the Kremlin while failing to indict NATO for doing everything in their power to spur on this whole mess just looks ignorant at best and disingenuous at worst.

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    1. Does the CIA puppet regime in Kiev's relentless shelling of the Donbass region not count as lasting, grave, and certain damage?

      Since they are not shelling Russia, NO, that does not count as damage to Russia.

      It's not like Russia claims these territories BELONG to Russia and therefore claim the shelling is damaging Russia. Russia just recognized the independence of the two (very small) regions, so Russia is not claiming itself being damaged by the warfare.

      Russia might, in theory, have a viable claim to be protecting innocent neighbors from an aggressive bully, but that claim does not work for sub-unit areas trying to claim independence from the mother country for the first time. This kind of claim is, per se, a claim that the original country has a legal right to disagree with by force of arms: the NEW claimant is the one that has to justify using force of arms, not the other way around. And outsider Russia is, for this purpose, interfering into an internal dispute. Maybe that interference could (in some cases) be justified, but not on the basis of "lasting grave harm" to the (claimed) independent regions, if the harm is precisely that of the war of independence. And even if it were a viable cause of war, it would be hard for that sort of "just cause" to justify Putin escalating the war to the MUCH larger conflict for destruction of the Ukraine government and military.

      I don't know how badly the Ukrainian government was treating the Donbas region before 2014 that led to the separatist movement, and so I don't know what moral support (or not) they might have for their cause. But there were ongoing talks between the neighboring countries, which Russia pretty much nixed by their unilateral recognition of independence. So, it really does seem to be Russia that is escalating the conflict, and not merely reacting to "lasting grave harm" that justifies a general war.

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    2. Dear Tony, you have a surprisingly hypocritical attitude.

      Look: Milosevic in Yugoslavia begins to suppress by force of the army the rebellion of Albanians created by the West in Kosovo and Metohija. These are parts of Yugoslavia. You have just recognized that the state has the right to suppress the separatists by force of arms. Yes?

      The United States is not only not in danger, but your huge country is even on another continent.

      And what are the Americans doing?

      They bomb Yugoslavia and overthrow Milosevic, declaring him a war criminal.

      This is the first example.

      The second example:

      At the western borders of Russia, NATO is creating a nationalist state hostile to Russia, pumping it with weapons, encouraging the bombing of eastern regions inhabited by Russian-speaking people. Of these, 800,000 already have Russian passports.

      Putin is bringing in his troops to change the nationalist regime.
      But he is an evil aggressor and morally wrong.

      Amazing! Don't you think this is called double standard thinking?

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    3. Tony, you have a surprisingly hypocritical attitude.

      On what grounds do you imagine, or assume, that I was in favor of the US action in Yugoslavia? Just because I am American doesn't mean I approved of that.

      Of these, 800,000 already have Russian passports.

      I am curious: do you mean that since 2014, Putin has enabled 800,000 people of what, before 2014, was accredited to be Ukrainian territory, to be accorded Russian citizenship? And this is not reckoned to be a dangerous political provocation? I am not sure what the rights and wrongs of the Donbas region are - maybe they SHOULD be independent, or not, or some third option. But it is clear that Putin's actions escalated the level of death and destruction.

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    4. Dear Tony, what should Putin have done? Not to issue passports?

      That is, our relative from Donetsk had to be expelled from Russia back to Donetsk? So that she would sit in the basement under the bombs of the Kievans?

      Estonia distributed Estonian passports in the Pechora region of Russia. But Russia limited itself to diplomatic protests. Why didn't the West threaten Estonia for this obvious provocation?

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    5. Dear Tony, what should Putin have done? Not to issue passports?

      That is, our relative from Donetsk had to be expelled from Russia back to Donetsk? So that she would sit in the basement under the bombs of the Kievans?


      I don't understand the details you offer, but IN GENERAL, it is not necessary to offer passports to people in a region troubled by conflicting claims of sovereignty. There are other humane options.

      First off, you didn't refer to these 800K people being DISPLACED by the war, just that they were "inhabitants" of the region. Providing passports represent a way of saying "you are Russian", which if they did not dis-place and actually leave the region, amounts to saying "this region in part of Russia". That's provocative.

      If they left the region because of bombs and bullets, and lack of food, and moved into undisputed Russian territory, there are "refugee" papers that can be given that provide a "right to be IN Russia" without providing "you are considered to BE Russian citizens".

      Estonia distributed Estonian passports in the Pechora region of Russia...Why didn't the West threaten Estonia for this obvious provocation?

      I don't know. How long had the Pechora been disputed? Under what circumstances? Details do matter. In general, saying that that Estonia was wrong doesn't make Russia right. But you're talking about 8 square miles with 11,000 people, not thousands of square miles with a million people - I doubt whether western countries' officials could find the time to look up the locale to decide whether it merited a protest.

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    6. Dear Tony, I agree with you on one thing, it's the details that matter. And now I see how you Americans, on the basis of the information gum that American media moguls and your government give you, without understanding anything about the situation, make decisions that entail terrible consequences for entire countries and peoples.

      Here is an example of the deceitfulness of the Kiev regime: watch the speech of the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Irina Vereshchuk.
      She is dissatisfied with the humanitarian corridors that the Russians have opened. Why? She says Ukrainians don't want to take a safe and short route to Russia. And she offers to bring people by bus through the whole of Ukraine, filled with militants and bandits, in order to bring them to Poland. This is crazy! And that's a lie! There are still 8 people of my relatives in Mariupol, we don't know anything about them, whether they are alive or not. When they were last in touch (on March 2, the Russians had not yet entered the city), we told them to urgently flee the city. But they refused, because they didn't want to go to Western Ukraine. Why? They weren't afraid of Russians, they were afraid of Ukrainians. Why would they go to Poland when all their relatives live in Russia?
      And there are many such people there. You do not see these details and do not know, so you trust the Kiev lies.

      Pavel.

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  15. "They have been tempted by the thought that if liberals hate Putin with such intensity, he can’t be that bad, and that opposition to his invasion must therefore have something essentially to do with the Great Reset, the woke agenda, the Covid healthcare dictatorship, etc. etc."

    I agree that Putin's invasion of Ukraine is wrong, and that opposing it has nothing essentially to do with those things. However, I think it's clear that the sheer unhinged ferocity of the opposing response has quite a lot to do with them in practice.

    What relates each of those things (the WEF's Great Reset, Covid dictatorship, wokeness, mass censorship, election "fortification," fighting the bogeyman of "white domestic terrorism," etc) is that they have all been means of further consolidating the iron-fisted hegemony of what is variously referred to as the "Global American Empire," the "Neo-Liberal World Order," etc.

    The establishment elites in politics and media and who are most up in arms about Ukraine, and who are most frantically pushing for total economic war on Russians everywhere and even direct military confrontation that could go nuclear, are almost without exception the same people who have most enthusiastically advanced each of the aforementioned goals.

    It's clear to me that they, at least, see Ukraine as an important touchpoint in establishing absolute political, social, and religious control by a radically secularist neo-liberal ruling world order, and that their frantic response to losing Ukraine, like their frantic response to Trump's election, is explained by the fact that they see it as a serious threat to their control.

    Certainly they are not driven by the lofty abstractions they offer up as justification.

    Those who have destroyed America's border and who decry any limit to immigration as "racist" certainly don't have any genuine concern for Ukraine's culture or "national sovereignty."

    After two years of depriving countless people of their health, livelihoods, and basic social human needs with rigid, senselessly cruel Covid diktats in the name of "saving even one life," their willingness to bring about the potential loss of millions of civilian lives to defend Ukraine's "freedom" is clearly insincere.

    And it simply isn't plausible that those who have for years now engaged in systematic, jack-booted censorship of politically inconvenient truths regarding Covid, RussiaGate, UkraineGate, etc, care about "freedom of speech" in Ukraine.

    Nor is it plausible that there is any abstract devotion to "our democracy" among those who launched a Color Revolution in Ukraine, who "fortified" our elections with FBI/CIA RussiaGate/UkraineGate agitprop, mass censorship, arbitrary suspension of election integrity measures and last-minute changes to voting rules that benefited themselves, and who have labeled parents at school board meetings as "domestic terrorists" and tormented political dissidents and disfavored protesters with unaccountable lawfare, financial destruction, and deprivation of due process.

    And given the horrendous massacres committed by American-led NATO forces in Yugoslavia and elsewhere with their approval, they clearly have no principled opposition to invading nations or even targeting civilians.

    Finally, it's hard not to notice that the Western establishment response to Russia (some of which you've touched on here) is exactly the sort of thing we've come to associate with Wokeness, just turned up to 11 and on a grander scale.

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    1. Finally, it's hard not to notice that the Western establishment response to Russia (some of which you've touched on here) is exactly the sort of thing we've come to associate with Wokeness, just turned up to 11 and on a grander scale.

      The current treatment of Russians residing in the West is more than a little reminiscent of how cancel culture uses guilt by association, certainly.

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  16. Dear Prof. Feser,
    I'm wondering how Catholic's criteria for a just war can properly deal with an "incremental" scenario which requires a wider strategic scope, especially re the definition of success in the following: "there must be serious prospects of success".

    One could argue, and apparently many people at the time did, that England and France should not have declared war on Germany as there was very little they could do to save Poland.

    Similarly, should Britain have sought for peace after the capitulation of France?

    But then, when should Hitler have been stopped?

    It would be like a squatter armed with a gun, training, and with an attitude taking over part of my driveway; OK, I'm not going to risk a gunfight over that, I can drive around him. But then he takes over the whole driveway. OK, I can park in front of the house and not use the garage. Then he takes over the garage, and again I don't fight because, oh well, I'm not using the garage anymore, not worth my life. You see where I'm going.

    I think a wider / strategic perspective needs to be considered and so I wonder how effective those just war criteria are in capturing it.

    I would be very curious about your thoughts (and it might be I do not fully understand those criteria or how they've been applied over the centuries).

    Thank you.

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  17. Will this still be the same argument when Russia invades the Baltics, Poland, East Germany, and the other parts of Europe that "should belong" to the Russian sphere of influence aka the former USSR/Warsaw Pact? Is the Ukraine 2022 analogous to Czechoslovakia 1938?

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  18. the democrats finally got their war.

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  19. @Tom

    That is frankly a dumb argument. Russia can't attack a NATO country otherwise they will be exterminated. Please grow up.

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  20. @The Deuce

    That's a two wrongs make a right argument.

    Firstly, Putin's insistence there was some sort of informal, unwritten understanding about the annihilation of the Soviet Union is nonsense. Everyone knows the West should have destroyed the Soviet Union in WWII. It would have spared everyone - especially Russians and any poor soul living under the Soviet dictatorship - a lot of grief.

    About the West's present descent because of the same people who dinked around in the Soviet Union - I mean the same totalitarian, pussy-footing liberal boot-lickers, the sort of hair-brained freaks who think a cotton mask will somehow prevent a freaking airborne respirotorial virus from passing directly through its 1,000x bigger-than-needed gaps in its fibres - about these people, this is the West's problem. In fact, it would be pure gold to conscript them all and send them off to defend Ukraine's borders. But everyone knows they expect us to do that for them.

    In any event, Russia and its obviously now CCP backers (in fact, overlords IMO) have done nothing good for the world once, ever. As much as I hate these freaks (demoncrats, etc.) who hate Putin and want me now to kill them, the same freaks who can't spell Kiev correctly (then again, because they are totalitarian slaves they are not even allowed to refer to men or women as men or women, because offensive to their boot-licking overlords) are just as deserving of sanctions and public hatred as the people they would have us hate and do the same to.

    Putin and his butt-buddy Xi are both more than full of it but so are the face-masker, "my vaccine is 70% effective and requires you to get boosters every X weeks for even that to be true," freaks and brain-dead zombies ruling in the West.

    Frankly I wish Putin, Xi, and every liberal-democrat/leftist moron, "masks will save us from diseases," idiot would get into a ring and shoot each-other. Also anyone who spells Kiev wrong in English and thinks anyone else should too.

    To hell with them all.

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    1. Just curious. What is the correct spelling of "Kiev"?

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    2. Kiev, you absolute idiot.

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    3. That response was so over the top that it made me smile.

      Like, chill out, man!

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  21. "the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition."

    Virtually all modern wars are unjust by this third criteria. Especially in the first few days, the Russian assault was fairly "restrained" & certainly more acceptable by this criteria than was US action Iraq, Libya, or Yugoslavia.

    I do not like the hypocrisy that Westerners display in situations like this- so fast to cite the catechism in support of the unjustness of Russia's actions- and yet, where were their protests in 2003 etc?

    Please do not misunderstand this as an attempt to give Putin a blank cheque to bomb as he pleases, but if Catholic westerners are really serious about these four conditions, they should be far more vocal about it when their own governments engage in similar wars, that is, not only when they are safely thousands of miles from the government they are denouncing as warring unjustly.

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    1. I protested the excess destruction of the initial attacks in Iraq. Too much was targeted on destroying things that helped the war effort only minimally, but disrupted civilian greatly. Many other things later failed to conform to "ius in bello", i.e. just methods of war, and many people rightly objected to them at the time.

      However, the measure of just disorder caused is by reference to the measure of the evil to be dealt with. Arguably, Saddam Hussein represented an evil order far in excess of what the Ukrainians have dealt to the Donbas region - even counting all of the deaths there as caused by the Ukrainians (which is not actually sound).

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  22. "if Catholic westerners are really serious about these four conditions, they should be far more vocal about it when their own governments engage in similar wars"

    Are you new to the internet? Or not have television back in 2003 when America was ripped apart in protests over Iraq? Or perhaps you are very young.

    Or do you honestly believe Russia ANNEXING territory of its neighbor in freaking Europe after WWII is somehow the geopolitical equivalent of America's invasion of Iraq (population at the time: <23 million)? Dick Cheney "mushroom clouds over Manhattan" trying to terrorize his own population into submission to a war was very, very wrong and perfectly evil. Cheney is going to hell if he doesn't visit a priest, this much is certain.

    For all that, the nationalist government of Ukraine, when it tried to ban Russian from being used in schools and courts of law even though 1/3rd of its population was native Russian-speakers, was absolutely wrong and indeed under international law an act of genocide (yes, using force of law to rob a people of their culture or heritage, especially when it has been long used or practiced peacefully in a place, is simply genocide under international law).

    The present Ukrainian government will get no love from me. In fact, I think they are a bunch of clowns and dinks. Still, Russia engaging in straight-up territorial annexation is grounds for open war and Putin is an idiot if he thinks we wont go there. I mean an absolute idiot. Maybe he just got a fresh injection of USD from the Bank of China and thinks he can walk on water because of it. He can't and he wont. He's going to lose this war one war or another - it's rather obvious to anyone in the West people knew this was coming already years ago. I haven't seen one Western government even think about tweaking its budgets. Putin has walked into a trap.

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    1. What we are witnessing is the last gasp of a man and his sycophants, the 'Old Guard', who pine for the halcyon days of a Russky Empire. Unfortunately, Putin's belief in such grandiose fantasy is the final undoing of him. If he believed he's got away with it in the flow of force in Georgia, in Chechnya, the annexation of Crimea and finally the Donbas, he is gravely mistaken. These are the short lived, early-winning sputterings of a failed dictator who thought he was onto a winner with his campaigns in these areas. He will be taken down, one way or another, and will probably experience the same fate did Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein. And once Putin is 'retired', the fate of Bashar al-Assad will the be re-visited.

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    2. @Papalinton: a friend, whose husband is a correspondent soon to be sent home from Moscow, says that Putin has been planning this invasion for over a decade. And then the Germans went through with the pipeline, so "that was his signal to go forth and conquer." The pipeline, if completed, would make Ukraine lose billions in revenue. But then the Germans starting getting cold feet. And Putin sent troops to the Ukrainian border...

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  23. Miguel CervantesMarch 6, 2022 at 1:04 AM

    This application of the just war principle is right. There's just no justification for the invasion and every reason to resist it. Moscow also has its own very big version of Belfast, in its best case scenario. What is sad is that the Western Establishment, responsible for all kinds of unjust aggression and attacks on various nations in recent times, probably could not have prevented this assault on Ukraine, even if it had wanted to (someone like Biden is having a second Christmas without a single US soldier having to get hurt).

    If, as Mr. Putin says, Ukraine and Russia are one people, then obviously any political situation where Ukraine has a different foreign policy, or insists on its national identity internally, is an abhorrent situation to be erased (he confirms this with his declaration that continued resistance to the invasion may result in the end of Ukrainian statehood). Therefore, there is no "off-ramp" for Mr. Putin. The best he can hope for is to get bogged down in a never-ending Irish-style insurgency.

    But this is to argue on nationalistic terms. On a higher level, we should also be supporting Ukraine as a member of the Christian West, and for Russia's sake. Ukraine has joined the West, because it wants to. I'm not a friend of the irreligious, modern West, and many Ukrainians may be attracted to its materialism. But they (and this includes most of the Orthodox there) have also made a decision that their Christian identity is not anti-Western. They therefore aspire to the idea of the West Alexander Solzhenitsyn declared "Russia long ago had the privilege of joining" by virtue of its baptism. Just as Kiev was the first to be baptised, it looks as though it may be the first to seriously strive for renewed unity with the rest of the West, understood this way.

    There is plenty of rhetoric about Western decadence and Ukraine's faults. But its real crime in the eyes of certain influential groups in Moscow is to have broken ranks in the secular battle against the West waged before and after the Bolshevik Revolution. Such enemies find it hard to decide which West they dislike more, the "woke" West, or the West as is was in 1300. In this bigger conflict, Ukraine is very much part of our family (one that Russia can easily join, simply by willing it, and understanding that the centre lies outside itself) - membership in clubs like NATO or the EU are not the criterion of Westernness. For Russia, unity with Ukraine can now only come through an understanding that it too is part of the West. This won't be easy but it's something Russian can never avoid. Everything else just makes the inevitable harder to do.

    One last point. Western liberals think the Ukrainians are useful fools to make so much trouble for Russia at so little cost to liberalism, but they may rue the day they supported an explosion of fighting spirit in this Western, definitely non-politically correct people. This will be inspiring and contagious in Western Europe, and not easily controlled.

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  24. What's interesting about this war with Ukraine are the thousands of Russians fleeing to Finland. SEE HERE and HERE =and then reasons they give.

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    1. You are interesting for thinking we are not going to make you fight in it.

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  26. Hmmm, Nice post Dr Feser. I also feel that given that this is the first large scale kind of war in the social media generation with so much coverage depicting the war torn scenes, newborns being born in bomb shelters, priests celebrating the eucharist in bomb shelters, this naturally creates the impulse to want to help which in turn also creates the temptation to portray any seeming inaction as "weakness" for political gain even when the inaction is warranted and justified. I think as conservatives we ought to avoid falling for that temptation although unfortunately the majority have sort of succumbed to the temptation of political gain. It is obviously legitimate and even obligatory to challenge Biden on his economic,social and energy policies, his contradictory stances with regards to his faith etc and we should continue to do that vigorously. Now would probably be a better time to focus on those issues rather then Ukraine. But I think it would be best to avoid any inflammatory political attacks with regards to the Ukraine crisis as long as Biden has rightly taken the position of not involving US forces. Are questions like Why didn't Putin attack under Trump legitimate? Yes. Is it fair to ask if this would not have happened under Trump ? Yes. But given how irrationalllly Putin's has acted so far, I personally think that there wasn't much anyone could have done differently whether Trump or Biden to stop the invasion. Putin could have got what "he said" he wants quite easily through more peaceful means. So the questions are legitimate but more appropriate for after the crisis when they would be boring to discuss cause no one really cares anymore but still important. Or if one is publically criticising Biden on this particular issue, it should be prefaced by the fact that they are with him on not involving troops, so the President knows the majority are with him with regards to that issue. I think Marshall Kosloff of the realignment put it succinctly when he said that with regards to this issue he doesn't care if Biden is fumbling while speaking as long as he is, not involving the troops. And mind you, the pressure that is on Biden to send in the troops from the DC establishment is probably immense, so now is the right time more then ever for clarity over political opportunism which there will always be time for later.

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    1. As long as we still have the president who arranged the Afghanistan debacle, I am glad we don't have troops over in Ukraine for him to stab in the back. To that extent, I am in favor of not sending US troops.

      And mind you, the pressure that is on Biden to send in the troops from the DC establishment is probably immense,

      Actually, I am not sure this is so. Having lived in the DC area for 35 years, I know that what the president hears can be manipulated so it is what he wants to hear, and that the left-controlled major media can be manipulated to emphasize something else if the powers in charge don't want to hear questions about sending troops over.

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  27. So it seems like the Russian argument boils down to:
    1- countries around them are joining NATO, so we have to stop that
    2- Russians in Ukraine have been treated poorly
    3- Ukrainians call Russians bad names

    -The nonviolent answer to #1 is: well Russia, just offer mutual defense agreements to these countries and let them freely choose Russia instead of NATO since she is so benevolent
    -The answer to #2 is much tougher... Should Mexico bomb the US if Hispanics are treated poorly there? Should New Zealand bomb Australian cities if Maoris are treated poorly? Should India bomb Pakistan if Hindus are treated poorly there??
    -The answer to #3 is easiest: grow up.

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    1. Notice that Putin's desire to help Russians in Ukraine is similar to Hitler's claim that Germans in Czechoslovakia and Poland were being mistreated. Putin also claims that politicians of the past drew the borders in unfair ways, similar to Hitler's complaints about the Treaty of Versailles.

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    2. Dear Jonathan Lewis, your example is absolutely incorrect. There is no evidence that Germans were bombed in Czechoslovakia, forced to become Czechs or Slovaks. No one subjected Sudetenland to blockade, did not drive children and old people into basements with incessant shelling.

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    3. You are right about the fact that Germans in Czechoslovakia were not really being tormented, but this just shows that Hitler was giving absurd reasons for justifying his invasions. Putin also speaks pure nonsense when he tries to justify his brutal invasion. He calls Zelenskyy a Jewish Nazi, as if that makes any sense, and says that Ukraine is a fascist nation threatening Russia. Hitler and Putin both lied about their reasons for invading. Everyone knew that their real motivations for attacking were nationalistic and imperialist. Dictators always lie. Sometimes their people believe them, but only temporarily. If you really care about children and old people being driven into basements from incessant shelling, then you should not be cheering for the Russian attacks on Ukraine's cities.

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    4. Dear Jonathan Lewis,

      I have already said that I have relatives in Ukraine in the Eastern part of the country. I still don't know anything about some of them. In Russia, no one is happy about this war.
      But your claims about the ridiculousness of the reasons put forward by Putin are incorrect. This is Western propaganda.

      Since 2014, I could not visit Ukraine because of Bandera.
      14,000 people were killed by the Kiev regime in the Donbass during the period from 2014 to 2022.
      One of our relatives in Donetsk joined the army of the Donetsk People's Republic. I know several girls who are now 24-25 years old and have been serving in the anti-Ukrainian militia for 4 years.

      These are facts. If you want to know the truth, listen to other points of view.

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  28. We are witnessing the ongoing battle between two false, godless visions of humanity... The woke brigade and the Easterners, the soft totalitarians and the hard.
    I asked me grandfather about any difference between the German and Russian invaders of Poland. He replied after much thought "well i guess you could say that the Germans were cleaner".
    A pox on both their houses (one of which i live in)

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    1. Are the Germans cleaner? These "cleaner" Germans alone killed 6 million people in Poland. Russian russians did not do this, no matter how much Poles would like to invent stories about bad Russian occupiers. What you are saying is ethno-cultural racism.

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    2. My raped-by-russians grandmother had a closer view than you

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    3. To Unknown.

      I will not question your story about the raped Polish grandmother. As an objection, I will only recall my great-grandfather, who was killed by Poles in the Tuсhola concentration camp in 1921.

      Probably I should hate you even more than you hate dirty Russians?

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    4. So raping somebody's grandmother is some sort payback. Don't compare isolated incidents with unspeakeable atrocities commited by Red Army unaccounted for, unlike The Third Reich.

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    5. It is necessary to commit intellectual violence on oneself in order to put Hitler and the actions of the Red Army in Europe on the same level. Despite the fact that Stalin is, of course, a brutal communist dictator. However, he treated the Europeans much milder and more humane than the peoples of the USSR.

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  29. I think we probably have U.S. special operations forces already in Ukraine.

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  30. Reading Dr. Feser is such a breath of fresh air; just well-reasoned and thorough analysis.
    On that topic: does anyone here have any good links for just day-to-day news? Ideally not MSM, but, above anything, at least reliable (e.g. not some rambling rubbish you’d find on Gab, or some variation of the Brother Nathanael-style “everything bad is due to Jews” nonsense).
    Basically, just reliable experts who can tell me what’s happening. Blessings to you all!

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    1. The Economist. The Wall Street Journal.

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    2. You are asking about news on Ukraine?

      Rob Lee on Twitter - Military Analyst who predicted the invasion and was mocked by Kremlin bots. Quite objective and checks his sources

      Tanner Greer on Twitter and his Website called "The Scholar's Stage". His blog is a great source to learn about Strategy, Foreign Relations, History and Geopolitics in general.

      Chriso Grozev on Twitter from a clear pro Ukrainian viewpoint, but we'll informed.

      The Kiev Independent - Well, Ukrainians, so obviously not impartial but they post new info which may not be always thoroughly checked.

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  31. What about supplying Ukraine with weapons and/or military advisors? What about Western people who volunteer to join the Ukrainian army? I'm sure Putin would complain, but would he go nuclear over this? Right now I doubt it, but this may change as the situation evolves.

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    1. Any Westerner dumb enough to volunteer to join the Ukrainian or Russian army right now frankly needs their heads checked. They will accomplish nothing and change nothing.

      This was has been planned and anticipated. For months before this conflict broke out I was seeing spam articles and youtube suggestions going on and on about what would happen if Russia invaded Ukraine. I never searched for anything to do with Russia or Ukraine and given how algorithms work the same people who push the weird -like the incessant promotion of LGBT garbage every time liberals and democrats have power - were obviously trying to mentally prepare the population for what we are seeing now. They don't care if Ukraine burns or how many millions of people die. I think deep inside everyone knows this.

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  32. See https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2022/03/07/the-pope-violence-and-just-war/ on this.

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  33. I read the following op-ed in the NYT: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/06/opinion/putin-ukraine-china.html

    In it, there is a paragraph that says the following:

    "The most important innovation in this war is the use of the economic equivalent of a nuclear bomb, simultaneously deployed by a superpower and by superempowered people. The United States, along with the European Union and Britain, has imposed sanctions on Russia that are crippling its economy, critically threatening companies and shattering the savings of millions of Russians at an unprecedented speed and scope that bring to mind a nuclear blast."

    I wonder: How many Russian civilians are going to die because of these sanctions who otherwise would not have? These sanctions don't affect Putin and those around him. It probably won't much affect the armed forces. This will almost entirely affect nothing by Russian families.

    Can this be justified because technically nothing is being done to them, but instead something (trade) is stopped or restricted from them?

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    1. It seems to me that as a general matter, economic sanctions are subject to some of the same regulating principles as those apply to blockades. That is, blockades CAN be licitly used, but that doesn't mean you can blockade everything, and even for things that you can blockade for a time, there can well be limits on the time, depending on which types of things.

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  34. Alexis DeTocqueville wrote this about Russia in 1835. It's amazing how prescient he was:

    There are at the present time two great nations in the world, which started from different points, but seem to tend towards the same end. I allude to the Russians and the Americans. Both of them have grown up unnoticed; and whilst the attention of mankind was directed elsewhere, they have suddenly placed themselves in the front rank among the nations, and the world learned their existence and their greatness at almost the same time.

    All other nations seem to have nearly reached their natural limits, and they have only to maintain their power; but these are still in the act of growth. All the others have stopped, or continue to advance with extreme difficulty; these alone are proceeding with ease and celerity along a path to which no limit can be perceived. The American struggles against the obstacles which nature opposes to him; the adversaries of the Russian are men. The former combats the wilderness and savage life; the latter, civilization with all its arms. The conquests of the American are therefore gained with the ploughshare; those of the Russian by the sword. The Anglo-American relies upon personal interest to accomplish his ends, and gives free scope to the unguided strength and common sense of the people; the Russian centres all the authority of society in a single arm. The principal instrument of the former is freedom; of the latter, servitude. Their starting-point is different, and their courses are not the same; yet each of them seems marked out by the will of Heaven to sway the destinies of half the globe.”

    ― Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

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  35. This article doesn't even rise to the dignity of an error.

    The argumentation reminds me of the same dull pattern of analysis, pretending to exemplify the "reasonable middle-ground", Ed autistically applies to everything, that in practice ends up going something like this: Imagine person A demands to cut off both your legs for no reason. You protest that you shouldn't have either leg cut off. Person B comes along and proclaims "we shall compromise, and cut off only 1 leg". Person B is Ed. In a nutshell, person B's perverse thinking captures Ed's bastardization of the kind of common sense worldview of Aquinas he attempts, and fails miserably, to replicate in his writing.

    This ridiculous article might be Ed's Summa.

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    1. Yes. But how do you really feel about it?

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  36. I really enjoy your blog. But I must say that often, when the ideas of Thomism are applied to the world, I get an uneasy sense that they are not up to the complexities we find (or perhaps it is just your applications of them). The past few centuries have taught us that geopolitics is a real, important, and subtle game (if previous human history hadn't!) You seem to advocate an approach that would simply make a country ignore it. Moreover, as others have pointed out, it is unclear why this analysis would *ever* let the west intervene. (Note: I don't think we should intervene at this time in this war. But I don't think that the principles you lay out here do a very good job of explaining why not.)

    Related: why is always that as soon as youf n declare something unjust, it becomes immediately "gravely" unjust? Are there only two categories -- just and gravely unjust? Can't something be just somewhat unjust? If not, then isn't "gravely" redundant? If so, then where is the argument supporting the "gravely"?

    The four principles you lay out amount to a balancing test. These have their virtues, but notoriously, different people may apply the same test in good faith and obtain different results. Surely when the test is close and people disagree on the outcome, it may be the case that it is (sometimes, or partly) because it the injustice is less than grave?

    The fourth point here, in particular -- that the use of force "MUST not" produce evils worse than those to be eliminated -- is of course not possible to meet. There can be no must. Even in a seemingly very favorable situation, war can have unexpected effects of terriballe proportion. This is ineliminable. So to apply this, one must (really MUST) resort to evaluating probabilities and estimating evils that are not known. But this is extremely difficult and amenable to many judgment calls. It seems to me that the conclusions you reach are simply too strong (and too confident).

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    1. It sounds like you believe Thomism or anything else can absolve a person from having to use prudential judgement. Yes, the world is complicated! These principles help clarify thinking by giving us a clear sense of limits and aims. We still need to do the work of determining what actually holds so that we can relate fact to principle. We can only do the best we can. That's always been the case.

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  37. Anon @ 8:52 and SMack,

    So, if I follow you, the risk of nuclear war is something only an uncreative Thomist robotically applying some abstract theory would make a big deal about. Is that the objection? (Since you give zero specifics, I can only guess at what your problem with what I wrote is.)

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    1. No, I agree it's a big deal, and in fact, I think that establishing a no-fly zone (for example) would be very unwise (and thus, perhaps, wrong).

      In fact, I think your analysis is pretty good up to where you conclude that doing so would be unwise and reckless. (Sorry I didn't say so.) But then I think that when you go on to apply the fourth principle of the catechism, you state principles so broad that intervening against a nuclear power would never be justified, almost no matter what they did. I think that's unlikely. If Russia invaded Poland, e.g., we would have commitments to defend her, and also it would become clear that Russia had no plans to stop. Your analysis gives no principle reason why it would be any more correct to respond in that case than that it is here, yet I think it would be. And I can also accept that others might disagree, but for reasons related to different balancing, not sweeping applications of Thomistic principles.

      So where you move from good prudential analysis to ethical analysis, I think you move from the useful to the overbroad and unhelpful.

      In particular, the statement, " Any public authorities who take action that risks nuclear war – and thus the deaths of millions of innocent people – would be no less guilty of violating the moral principles governing war than Putin is" cannot be correct, even if its application to this particular case leads to a correct conclusion.

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    2. you state principles so broad that intervening against a nuclear power would never be justified, almost no matter what they did. I think that's unlikely.

      Right. There have been, since Russia got the bomb, a considerable number of conflicts with Russia directly or by way of proxies (Vietnam, for example), where we pushed warfare at some level WITHOUT getting into a nuclear exchange with Russia. Thus proving, as a demonstrated empirical fact, that getting into a dust-up with them does not inevitably lead to nuclear bombs. And a number of OTHER confrontations that did not directly involve shooting, but bore considerable risk of it (e.g. the Berlin airlift, the Cuban missile crisis), where we vigorously resisted Russian encroachments.

      At this point, 30 years after the Soviet empire fell, with Russia having only 2/3 of its former size and 1/2 of the people of the US, and having struggled for much of those 30 years to maintain a modern army (and keep up with advances in technology), it is arguably even less likely that Putin would seriously consider a nuclear effort to handle what is, in the grand scheme of things, a very minor dispute. It is very likely that if he used a nuclear bomb, he would get the ENTIRE world (perhaps even China) rejecting Russia, with even more harsh, punitive economic sanctions, for the foreseeable future rather than merely for the duration of hostilities. Russia would be far worse off, and Putin might well not survive the affair, either politically or physically.

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  38. Bringing the discussion back to what motivates Putin in his invasion of Ukraine THIS ARTICLE reviews the rather messianic view he holds of himself and his close relationship with the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church and the deeply conservative nationalist position that the Church clearly holds. One interesting insightful observation made in the article, is, "Tooley explained that Russian Orthodoxy, to the outside world, might seem to position Putin’s country to be in perfect alignment with Western religious ideals ..". One can see the deep parallels here in the US in why the Christian Right Worships Donald Trump as their true leader under Jesus. (Latest Pew research

    And just as the conservative Christian right saw an opportunity for Christianity to claim centre-stage in public policy under Trump, the Russian Orthodox Church has grasped the opportunity of Putin's invasion of Ukraine to wrest back command and control of the recently granted autonomy status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by none other than the Patriarchy of Constantinople.

    Interesting.

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    Replies
    1. It's always Christianity that's the problem, isn't it Papalinton? It can't possibly be that... I don't know, that Vladimir Putin was provoked into doing this by the color wars the West waged in his own backyard, as John Mearsheimer stated in an article eight years ago. But, if you are looking for religious motivators for the conflict, you can just easily point fingers at people like yourself, Papalinton. As Richard Hanania's Substack pointed out, a big reason why the Western powers are so gung-ho about nuclear war with Russia is because Russia is white and Christian. I personally think that the aforementioned geopolitics are the main causes though, but if you bring religion into this, then you can see that it's not the conservative Christians that are to blame here.

      The world is bigger than your partisan politics, Papalinton. Superimposing the Christian conservative versus Liberal secularist conflict onto every subject is tiresome.

      Delete
    2. Dear Papalinton, what you write is, unfortunately, surprisingly illiterate. Links to such articles show how Americans do not understand what they are trying to judge. It is possible that this is compounded by the fact that you are an atheist and have a poor understanding of the history of churches.

      The Russian Orthodox Church does not need to return influence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Why? Yes, because the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate. That's what it's called - the Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. It is autonomous, but within the framework of the Moscow Patriarchate.

      You may ask, then to whom did the Patriarchate of Constantinople grant autonomy? The fact is that the nationalists have created several "churches", the largest of which is the so-called The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate.

      The Moscow Patriarchate does not recognize these pseudo-churches as churches, considers them schismatic non-church formations. However, recently the Greeks recognized the schismatics as the Orthodox Ukrainian Church and subordinated them to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Naturally, the Moscow Patriarchate broke off communication with the Patriarchate of Constantinople and those who recognized the schismatics as a church.

      Therefore, what is written about the return of control over the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is nonsense.
      For the Moscow Patriarchate, military events are, on the contrary, a huge problem. And for the Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, and for the Moscow Patriarchate itself. In terms of its number, the UOC (MP) surpasses all schismatics combined.

      The Ukrainian nationalists themselves are mostly unbelievers. In Kiev, there was a poster on which it was written "Our religion is nationalism."..

      Delete
    3. Leave it too Linton to squeeze oot a tortured anti-religion & anti-Trump argument over this.:D LOL!

      Classic!

      Delete
    4. Anonymous @ 10.45AM
      Your response is an example of a master-twist
      of propagandised information in search of the facts, very much in the manner of a clever Putin manoeuvre. Indeed, your comment has a patina of respectability, but is little more than conflated spin, meant to deflect from reality, via your somewhat contorted explanation. In THIS REPORT, how do you account for Kirill's reasoning in support of the invasion of Ukraine:

      "Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, leader of Russia’s dominant religious group, has sent his strongest signal yet justifying his country's invasion of Ukraine — describing the conflict as part of a struggle against sin and pressure from liberal foreigners to hold “gay parades” as the price of admission to their ranks."

      So according to the Christian (note: Christian) Patriarch of Moscow, the highest priest in Russia, the war is justified on the basis of a prospective gay parade.

      And then this: "Kirill on Sunday depicted the war in spiritual terms.
      “We have entered into a struggle that has not a physical, but a metaphysical significance,” he said.
      "

      How do you reconcile your Christian moral and ethical stance when you read THIS REPORT
      Some telling takeaways for the report:
      " His declarations ran counter to the stance of Patriarch Kirill, the patriarch of Moscow and the ultimate spiritual leader of this church and many others in Ukraine. Three days after Russia invaded, Patriarch Kirill denounced the "evil forces" that were undermining the historical unity of Russia and Ukraine."

      "Patriarch Kirill, its ultimate spiritual leader, is close to the Kremlin."

      In this case, there is little argument the Christian leader, Kirill, is unarguably on the side of evil. The relationship between Putin and Kirill clearly demonstrates the irreconcilably problematic nature of Christian morality, ethics and guiding principles that form their decision-making. Both have utterly failed that test and has placed in plain sight for all to see the fickle nature and feckless character of Christian morality.

      And yes, Mr Geocon @ 10.36AM, christianity is a moral failing when it is needed most. When it is used as weapon as Kirill and Putin has done, Christian moral courage has failed to materialise in their decision-making.

      In closing:
      On the day that Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Church of St. George in Lviv, in western Ukraine, posted a sign on its front gate condemning Russia.
      The church belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, whose leadership has defended the Russian invasion as recently as this past Sunday."
      . SEE HERE

      The practice of Christianity is as devoid of character as are the complainants who profess to abide by its principles.





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    5. Dear Papalinton,

      It is difficult for me to comment on your text, as it gives the impression of complete nonsense. I only understood that you consider Christians to be moral freaks.

      According to your link, a journalist who, unlike you, has at least figured out the problem, says quite correctly that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has a problem. The war contributed to the cooling of many Ukrainians towards the Moscow Patriarchate.

      That's exactly what I wrote. The Russian Church received only the cooling of many believers of the Ukrainian autonomy to the Moscow Patriarchate. Therefore, to say that Patriarch Kirill benefited from the war is just nonsense.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous;
      "I only understood that you consider Christians to be moral freaks."

      Not at all. Christians are not moral freaks. They are in the main good people that have had their intellectual and reasoning capacity co-opted by some of the worst indoctrination, arguments and ideas imaginable. The result of the egregious mauling of so many young growing minds running the gauntlet of Christian teachings have resulted in stunting the intellect in truly understanding what it is like to be both human and a social being. The Christian experiment, rather than bringing humanity together has ineluctably lead only to division, schism, a largely failed and increasingly irrelevant experiment, way over its time-stamp, having been mired through centuries of bad praxis, moral ambiguity and ethical turpitude, a misfortunate exercise continuing to be promulgated under the rubric of 'Christian tradition'.

      Religions are historically renowned for schisms, Anonymous. They are best known for their unmatched schismatic power, Christianity no less so than any other religion. The recent schism of the Orthodox Church is the just the latest in an incalculably long conga-line of religious schisms.

      No Anonymous, Christianity as an epistemologically and ontologically grounded explanatory paradigm, simply holds water with the efficiency of a sieve. Any remaining redeeming feature Christianity might offer future generations will be lost to humanity while it remains ever doggedly bound to its unnatural, superstitious and mythical origins as 'truths'.

      You say: "Therefore, to say that Patriarch Kirill benefited from the war is just nonsense."

      Is that the truth or did Putin tell you that? Evidence or facts to support your claim.

      Delete
    7. Dear Popalinton,

      It makes me laugh to hear that Christianity is the worst ideology that divides people. I was born and raised in a state where atheism was the state ideology. In the end, this ideology led to mutual hatred of people in the USSR. Believe me, people are divided by the sinful nature of man - his pride, vanity, selfishness, unwillingness to think and fanaticism. What is fanaticism? Fanaticism is faith without love. A faith based on hatred.

      I don't really understand what I have to prove to you? Read the official speech of Metropolitan Onufriy, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. He reproaches President Putin with the sin of Cain. Do you really think that Patriarch Kirill needs all this?

      Your ideological fanaticism is added to your ignorance. Therefore, it is hardly possible to talk to you. I talk to those who seem to me to be an adequate interlocutor, and not a fanatic shouting slogans.

      Delete
    8. @Pap

      We have heard you freaks before. You are the bringers of death and misery.

      Useless people complain about Christianity. Every time anyone has tried to vanquish real Christianity anywhere from earth, nothing but death, barbarism and tyranny followed. Look at King Henry VIII killing 40,000 people who peacefully protested against him, when his own father seized the nation with barely 12,000 combatants, most of which survived.

      Murderers always scream against Christianity. Christianity is not the problem. Problems are deeply human. It is the Christian West that wants and yearns for a more ideal world. The failings of human beings it incorporates into its own soul: their successes it encourages as if it was themselves that did it, denying and refusing all envy.

      Corruption cannot be tolerated, least of all in the holy Church.

      But every time the faith of the people is banished from public, rivers of blood is the consequence. It's like asking a friend not to take the final step into hanging themselves.

      Delete
    9. @Pap,

      You are pitting this like all leftist freaks do as a war against Christian morality, as if not sinning was slavery. Grow up. Nobody here is going to fall for your asinine, anti-Christian crap. The Christians have a name worthy of gold and they deserve it, so long as they are obedient to their master in heaven.

      [b]YOU[/b] will be conscripted to fight a war against Russia, you and your whole friends, family and acquaintances. You will all be forced to serve for your fake idealism.

      Delete
  39. So Russia should just let NATO slowly invade more countries towards the east until they're knocking on Russia's door?

    Putin had no choice but to invade Ukraine. This is a long overdue military operation. I think you are thinking about this to abstractedly Dr. Feser. Think more big picture for one second.

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    Replies
    1. NATO has never "invaded" any countries. And Putin's move has only made more countries want to join (Finland, Sweden).

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    2. Seriuosly? You're a Putin backer? You know NATO does not INVADE countries, A nation must voluntarily agree to join. You know who invades countries? Vlad Putin has done it repeatedly.

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    3. Median Joe,

      At the end of the XX — beginning of the XXI century , NATO troops took part in the following conflicts:

      wars on the territory of the former Yugoslavia:
      1) Bosnia and Herzegovina - Operation Deliberate Force (1995)
      2) In 1999, NATO invaded Yugoslavia and separated the provinces of Kosovo and Metohija from Yugoslavia. - Operation Allied Force (1999)
      Afghanistan:
      3) ISAF (2001-2014)
      4) Operation Resolute Support (2014-2021)
      5) Libya - Operation United Defender (2011)

      NATO invaded all these countries, although they did not threaten NATO members in any way. Of course, you can claim that it wasn't an invasion, but that would be hypocrisy.

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    4. Anon,

      There is a clear difference between those NATO interventions you mention and an invasion:

      "An invasion is a military offensive in which large numbers of combatants of one geopolitical entity aggressively enter territory owned by another such entity, generally with the objective of either conquering; liberating or re-establishing control or authority over a territory; forcing the partition of a country; altering the established government or gaining concessions from said government; or a combination thereof".

      You can argue about the justification for a particular NATO intervention, but the fact is that NATO constitutes a collective security formed for defence, not attack.

      Putin is clearly the aggressor here and has made it clear that his objective is at least one of the criteria which defines an invasion, rather than an intervention. But at the same time, he insists his actions are defensive.

      Given that that there has been such overwhelming international condemnation, that unprecedented sanctions have been imposed on Russia, that Putin has shut down all independent media and passed a law which will see any protestors against his "military operation" being jailed for 15 years, and so on, are you not in the least bit troubled by cognitive dissonance?

      Delete
    5. Anon,

      Are you buying the claim that Ukraine joining NATO would put US military on the border of Russia, thus Putin had to invade?

      What do you think would be the case once Putin takes over Ukraine? Wouldn't he then be right on the border of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania - all NATO countries, thus he would make his problem worse would he not?

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    6. Comrade Anonymous

      I’m sure you are aware that since 1994, Russia has invaded countries five times
      1994 – Chechnya
      1999 - Chechnya again.
      2008 – Georgia
      2014 – Ukraine
      2022 – Ukraine again
      Did any of these wars do any good? Does Vlad the Invader think these wars were necessary?
      It is true that both NATO and Russia both send military forces to different parts of the world, but how many of these can accurately called an invasion? Historically, when we talk about an invasion, it refers to a conquest where the attacker takes control of the territory and then rules it, declaring it to be their own territory from then on. We refer to the Norman invasion of England when the Normans conquered England and ruled it for centuries. In the present day, NATO countries do not annex other countries or regions of those countries. The United States did not annex Serbia and declare it the fifty-first state. But Russia did annex the Crimea and make it just another part of Russia. Russia occupied regions of Georgia and continued to keep control of them even though the rest of the world saw this as a violation of Georgia’s sovereign territory. If the Russian military manages to get control of Ukraine, no one would be surprised if Vlad the dictator announced that Ukraine was now part of Russia, since he has said that he considers the Ukrainians and Russians to be one people.
      Empires of the past expanded by conquering their adjacent territories. Russia has been doing this for centuries. In the old days, the Tsars expanded their Russian empire until it occupied most of northern Asia. The Soviet Union kept this empire intact and expanded it by conquering the Baltic states. Vlad the invader came of age in the Soviet KGB, and he is certainly nostalgic for the old days of Soviet empire when mighty Russia was a powerful and dangerous giant. He is as ambitious as Ivan the Terrible, and therefore he is so much more dangerous than any NATO government. Joe Biden might be a senile dunce, but at least he’s not a serial killer like Vlad is. Putin has kept himself in power for twenty-two years by scheming and murdering. His own people are finally turning against him. Don’t cheer for him; denounce him. Russia deserves a better leader.


      Delete
    7. Dear Median Joe,

      This is such a hypocritical explanation of the role of NATO that it does not even need to be commented on. NATO is an instrument of the imperial policy of the Anglo-Saxons, nothing more. None of the countries invaded by NATO troops posed a threat to any of the NATO members. What can NATO invasions have to do with collective security? Nothing. But these invasions have the most direct relation to the imperial policy of your government.

      You present ready-made propaganda slogans, instead of starting to think.

      Delete
    8. Dear Jonathan Lewis,

      I have always been surprised by the arrogant illiteracy of American citizens and their confidence in the messianic role of the United States. I hope that someday this will come to an end and the United States will turn from a "shining city on a hill" into an ordinary state that will stop bombing dozens of countries.

      I have already written above that Putin could not invade Chechnya twice (!) simply because there has never been such a country. Chechnya is an integral part of the Russian Federation. You're not accusing Bush of invading New Orleans when he brought in 45,000 National Guardsmen during the 2005 flood, are you? Why? Why didn't Bush invade, and Putin invaded Chechnya, which was part of Russia?

      This is absurd thinking. I think this is a consequence of double standards: what is allowed to the American empire is not allowed to anyone in the world.

      This is an amazing logic: when the United States encourages the separation of some part of any state, it is normal and correct. But when Russia does it, it's bad and terrible. This is the logic of the imperialists.

      Of course, I admire such patriotism of Americans. However, you must admit that people from other countries can also have patriotism.

      I, a Russian, am sure that in 2014 Putin saved Crimea from Bandera and Nazis, who are encouraged by the Americans.
      Crimea has always been Russian, I have lived there for a long time. Even before 2014, a huge number of people there were connected with the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

      To be honest, I do not know if Putin will be able to defeat the West. The forces are unequal. But I would very much like to defeat the USA anywhere.

      I do not know what the American propaganda says, but so far no one is rebelling against Putin.And I'm not going to oppose him. Until recently I wanted him to leave, but now I want the victory of the Russian army over the NATO Bandera.

      I will explain to you why I would like the defeat of the West. If the United States were a conservative state in its ideology with certain moral principles, if it were not dominated by the left, then I would treat the United States calmly. But now there is no such abomination that the West would not impose on the peoples.

      Therefore, a normal conservative person with traditionalist views can put up with the West only at the muzzle of a NATO machine gun.

      Pavel.

      Delete
    9. @Pavel, your "Crimea has always been Russian" ALWAYS?
      As a Russian you will know more about it than I, but aren't you forgetting the centuries during which the Crimea was NOT part of Russia? E.g. under the Golden Horde, the Crimean Khanate... Russia annexed it in 1783.

      Delete
    10. Dear ficino4ml,

      I think you will agree with me that Russia, which took Crimea for itself under Empress Catherine II, has more historical rights to it than the United States has rights to many of its territories annexed from other colonial empires or simply taken away from the native American population - Indian tribes. Russian soldiers Russian blood in two Russo-Turkish wars won the Crimea for Russia.

      And you know perfectly well that the Golden Horde was an empire that included Russia. When the Golden Horde broke up into independent states, the strongest of which were the Russian state and the Crimean Khanate, the confrontation between them began. The former part of the Golden Horde has subdued all the fragments of the Horde empire for 300 years.

      This can be compared to the unification of any major European state - Germany, France, Spain or Great Britain. A stronger state appears and unites other, weaker countries around it. This is the completion of the historical process known as feudal fragmentation. The fragmentation of the Middle Ages was overcome by the creation of large kingdoms and empires in the XVI-XIX centuries.

      There was no Ukraine at the time when Russia annexed Crimea.

      You can certainly say that Russians in Crimea are aliens. But this is not the case. Crimea belonged to the Greeks, there were Tatars, there were even Italians. However, in 988-1094 there existed a Russian Tmutarakan principality. Although the main territory of the principality was in Taman, the principality owned Sudak and Kerch - these are large Crimean cities.
      The city of Chersonesos is of great importance for a cultured Russian person in general, since Prince Vladimir was baptized there.

      Of course, you will undoubtedly encounter falsification of history by Ukrainian nationalists. They write that only Ukrainians are heirs of Ancient Russia. They claim that the Moscow Principality is not Russians, but Tatars. They write that the word "Rus" or "Russia" was introduced by Tsar Peter I. But all this is nothing more than nonsense, folk history. Ukraine itself has a late origin.

      Pavel.

      Delete
    11. I always laugh when leftists complain about imperialism but ignore the barbarous Mao regime that conquered and exterminated Tibet and many other countries. Imperialism was okay when an absolute psychopath was doing it. People without God will always end up worshiping absolute losers.

      Delete
  40. Hi Ed,

    If I'm not mistaken, you seemed to express some approval for preemptive as opposed to preventive warfare in a previous blog posts ('Preventive war and quarantining the healthy', 4th March 2021).

    Doesn't the first condition of just war as reported here rule out preemptive war?

    ReplyDelete
  41. I think it's very unreasonable to attack Thomism over the position articulated in the blog. Prof.Feser just applied traditional just war principles to the situation at hand. But as he himself acknowledged you don't have to be a natural law theorist to take the position and most people have probably arrived at the same conclusion. This is exemplified by the fact that commentators like Saagar Enjetti to Krystall Ball have also come to the same position and they are as far from Thomism as one can get. It seems like most of the young conservative base has adopted this position. I think that this underscores that the principles being applied here are quite obvious and very accessible. This is decidedly different from other issues , where Thomists acknowledge that they will have to explicate the metaphysical background before getting to the issue and then proceed to provide rigorous and well structured arguments to defend that metaphysical picture. I think that this is exemplified in Professor Feser's Work. @SMack I genuinely would like to know what are the more appropriate principles that you feel must be applied to this situation. I acknowledge that there are complexities but I'd say that the four principles that Prof Feser used are the more overarching principles underneath which other sub-principles or more specific considerations that you might mention would fall under. I also don't think that your uneasiness about the real world applications of thomism apply to this particular case. Most people have come to the same position based on more or less the same reasoning, namely the need to avoid nuclear conflict as far as possible, including the commentators I mentioned above. I think that's it's quite sophisticated, the more simplistic kind of reasoning would be to say.. "Bad guy doing Bad, Let's go beat him up" (which I am not in any way attributing to you by the way, since you already mentioned that you don't think that The USA should intervene). Also it isn't right to say that the position advocates doing nothing, it advocates doing whatever is consistent with not escalating the situation. Again quite sophisticated as opposed to going to any extent to bring about the desired result. People arguing in good faith might come to different conclusions but in some cases the stakes at play are obvious or atleast "ought to be obvious". So even if people disagree, since the stakes are obvious, if someone can't recognise it, that is a problem with the person coming to the wrong conclusion, not some inherent ambiguity about the stakes. And when the stakes involved are as significant as possible nuclear conflict, it makes the wrong conclusion grave. I submit that this is one of those cases. So even though you might have some uneasiness in general , the position articulated by Prof.Feser in this post is in the strongest possible manner not exclusive to thomism. So I'd like to know what are the more "complex" reasonings based on which you arrived to the conclusion that the USA shouldn't intervene at the moment.

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  42. To tell you the truth I am not sure what to do with this Russia war nonsense? I dinny support sending troops and starting WWIII but I cannae believe we should let the Ukrainians perish. We should give them weapons to protect themselves.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Since the Great Reset was mentioned, where can I find a detailed Catholic critique of the Great Reset? Most of what I hear about the Great Reset is woolly ("sustainable", "better"), but few specifics. I can imagine what these might mean coming from powerful people on the Left, but I'd rather know exactly what it means rather than imagine. A Catholic response that is equally specific would be nice.

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  44. I confess to being no great authority on this issue, but do you think Putin really would use nuclear weapons? After all, he surely knows that the West would almost certainly respond in kind, which would lead to Russia being in as bad a position as any country. Just a question; sure I'm wrong (Ed seems to find the prospect of nuclear war plausible); but looking for an answer.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. In reality, using nuclear bombs in this confrontation makes little sense even tactically. Unless Ukraine puts all of its eggs in one small basket, Russia is not likely to take out the bulk of its defenses by one bomb.* Nor is Russia likely to take out a CITY with a city-killer strategic bomb, in pursuit of (notionally) a strictly limited territorial dispute in the Donbas region: doing so would paint Putin as a war criminal, and just get NATO involved directly and heavily, instead of indirectly and piecemeal. When you look at the details of Putin using a nuclear bomb, it doesn't make much sense.

      (*Admittedly, in a tactical sense, Putin could eradicate effective Ukrainian defense with a series of many tactical (small, battlefield-sized) nuclear bombs. But his using many such bombs would result in most of the same strategic downsides as using one large city-killer bomb e.g. the hatred of the whole world, for generations to come. I doubt Putin aspires to replace Hitler as the go-to guy for the niche "world leader justly despised by all peoples for grossly evil practices".) The real world is not the scene of Despicable Me.)

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  45. From what I understand about the war here’s my application to the Ukraine’s choice to defend in all out war.
    1. The many evils are certainly lasting and grave by succumbing to Russia. The loss of sovereignty in itself is evil and the ability for a nation to take concern of its own needs. Further, there are many probable evils which could come about from living under dictatorship.
    2. No other method is possible than military action when being invaded.
    3. Success may come from Putin withdrawing, but it may be so simple as the fact that every day that Putin cannot overthrow Ukraine is a success. When a tyrant cannot have his way and embarrasses himself on the world stage, other countries take notice. Further removal of sovereignty can be prevented because the Russian troops will always be met with similar vigour from future countries under attack now that Ukraine has lasted so long. Perhaps Ukrainians can buy themselves some sort of sovereignty if Putin decides to negotiate. There are many opportunities for success.

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    Replies
    1. Adding to the certainty of grave evil is the historical and cultural experience of the Ukrainian (indeed, all Eastern European nations), which has taught them that Russians are cruel masters, not eager to look after their well-being.

      Delete
  46. Winston Churchill is still admired by many.

    Before WWII began Churchill was intensely anti-German.

    Hitler was strong admirer of the English people and Great Briana.

    Hitler made a number of peace overtures to England. Churchill rejected them all needlessly continuing the war and thus bring on the death of tens of thousands of England’s finest young men.

    Rather than make peace with Germany Churchill undertook a campaign to get America into the war sending William Stevenson to establish and run British Security Coordination with the mission to get America into WWII on the side of England and Stalin and the USSR.

    Rather than confining the bombing to only German military targets, Churchill began the bombing German cities. Germany finally returned in kind.

    President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, not a Christian as is 85% of Ukrainians, but Jewish, should end the war that Ukraine cannot win. He is causing great harm and death to Christian Ukrainians.

    Zelenskyy is in no danger. He quotes Churchill cavaliering offering up the lives of innocent Ukrainians.

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    Replies
    1. Good grief. What kind of alternative reality is this? Just get lost.

      Delete
    2. Ukraine's civil ruler is a Jew. And Churchill publicly embarrassed himself to repeatedly to get (as he thought) America to join the war, even though FDR was already dead-set on fighting the Nazi regime. The American public was avidly anti-war and intervention in Europe - they thought Britain being blown to bits was a just vengeance. This is hardly "alternate history."

      Zelensky is in fact playing Churchill in WWII. Except he doesn't have an empire to leverage on his loans.

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  47. This is very disapointing analysis and application of Just War theory. It seems to boil down to the the Ukraine should just surrender because they have no chance of winning and that surrender would end the suffering.
    Who will win or loose a war is not just numbers game comparing the number of tanks, planes soldiers on one side to the other and then conclude that the side with the largest army will always win. Does Russia have a numerical advantage? Yes. Does that mean that they will inevitably win? No. Why because Ukrainian resistance along with world wide condemnation and economic sanctions have a reasonable chance to break the will of the Russians to continue the fight.

    Neither does surrender guarantee an end to Ukrainian suffering since Putin has a kill list and plans on a massive restructuring of Ukraine.

    It seems fashionable these days among hip and trendy Catholic theologians to hand wave away Just war theory and effectively advocate total passivism. If you read the New Testament the profession mentioned most is that of a soldier. Remember when soldiers asked John the Baptist what should they do? He told them to be satisfied with their pay and not to abuse anyone. When the Roman Centurion told Jesus that he was not worthy to have Him enter his home and only say the word and his servant would be healed did Jesus tell him put away your sword and follow Me? No but Jesus said He hadn't seen so much faith in all of Israel. When Saint Pete met with the Roman Centurion Cornelius Saint Peter did not ask him to leave the Roman Army. In fact, Cornelius was considered a just and holy man while he was serving as a soldier.

    In the present day, if NATO institutes a no fly zone while demanding an immediate cease fire would be justified if it forces Russia to come to the negotiating table. As suggest that Professor Fesor finds it very easy to advocate that others surrender to evil while he teaches at his well paid position and sleeps in his safe and intact home. Professor Fesor should consider seeing the Ukrainian people with his own eyes before lecturing them on how best to respond.

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    1. It seems to boil down to the the Ukraine should just surrender because they have no chance of winning and that surrender would end the suffering.

      I never said or implied any such thing. I said only that the U.S. and the rest of NATO should not get involved militarily. And I also explicitly said that the they should nevertheless cheer on an aid the Ukrainians to whatever extent is compatible with not risking nuclear war. That obviously implies that the Ukrainians can justly resist.

      Nor is this contrary to just war theory's criterion of there being a prospect of success. As the Soviet and American failures in Afghanistan show, the defeat even of a small country when attacked by a powerful one is by no means assured.

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    2. I'll also note that this is the first time anyone has ever accused me of being a pacifist (which, as anyone who actually knows my work knows, is a pretty comical charge!)

      Delete
    3. Anyone who has read your previous articles defending the Iraq War will know that you're not a pacifist. I've actually done a refutation of them with my friends on YouTube.

      Delete
  48. Inaction based on FEAR of nuclear weapons makes it an imperative for every nation to secure a nuclear arsenal - to be protected from military retaliation. It raises the probability of a nuclear exchange in the future.

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  49. Ed,

    Thank you greatly for this post. You set out the truth of this situation clearly and succintly, when too much online discourse is about obscuring the facts. I have seen a great many Dissident Rightists, many of whom I look up to, succumb to the very partisanship you mention here, and I've fallen victim to it myself. Because we're so used to having to endure the insanities of the Left, we instinctively support everything oppose, which is leading many to think that Putin is doing something good, at least indirectly (by weakening and humiliating the West). Yet nobody ever so much as mentions Just War Theory, because it's not about that - it's about opposing the Left. Even Andrew Torba, a man I greatly respect for his unapologetic Christianity and unapologetic commitment to building a parallel Christian economy away from the power of Silicon Valley, has fallen victim to this kind of thinking, buying into the belief that Putin is some kind of Righteous Christian King riding in to save the Ukrainians from the godless Western Regime (OK, so Ukraine's government might actually be bad, but still).

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  50. The invasion of Ukraine has cleared the air in more ways than one. Somebody who had been tottering on the brink of schism has finally made it off the Barque in all but name.

    Archbishop Vigano declares that, not Trump (!)now, but Russia is the "Katechon", the only thing holding back the "antichrist". He adopts the nineteenth-century Russian imperialist and anti-Catholic notion of Moscow as "Third Rome" and joins the neo-pagan Eurasianists in vogue in Moscow in calling for a worldwide alliance of peoples and religions against globalism - which is headed by Biden and the Pope. In practice, this means an alliance of non-Catholic, non-Western countries against the West and against Rome.

    Goodbye and good riddance to this monumental fraud (and his writer Pietro Siffi)! He won't go alone.

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    1. It isn't Archbishop Vigano, but Russia herself that identifies as "Third Rome".

      https://americanmind.org/salvo/what-is-russia-to-us/

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    2. I am not sure why it matters whether Moscow is the "Third Rome" - as long as the FIRST Rome still has the successor to the first pope, it's irrelevant how many other "Romes" there are.

      If, however, Moscow asserts that its patriarchal primacy has replaced that of the first Rome, it has to come up with an argument that makes sense in terms of timing and establishment, and...there just isn't one. Russia and Moscow didn't even become Christian until the 10th century, ages and ages after the first Rome fell to the barbarians but during which the first papal seat was operating just fine all the same. Moscow replacing Rome in that sense makes even less sense than arguing that "Holy Roman Empire" consisting mainly of German, Austrian, and Hungarian areas in the 1400's the direct legal successor entity - with legal continuity - to the first Roman empire.

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    3. Tony, it seems to matter a lot the the self-justification used by the Eurasianist neo-paganism in vogue in Moscow (using the shell of the Orthodox Church there as a talisman/totem in its pantheon of "traditional spirituality" stretching all the way to Mecca, Shangri-la and Timbuctu).

      In first place, it's completely false and contrived having only appeared (as propaganda) in the nineteenth-century and having no basis in history. There's no possibility whatsoever that Muscovy descended politically from Byzantium, let alone Rome. The marriage of the niece of the last Emperor in Constantinople to the Grand Duke is meaningless; imperial practices concerning succession were not hereditary as in most of the European states at that time. And if one were to apply hereditary dynastic practices, Sophia would not have inherited the "imperial mantle", as here brother would have been in line before her, and he willed all his titles to the Catholic Monarchs of Castile and Aragon (not that they even bothered to give it much consideration). Why even bother mentioning it here? Because it's constantly brought up by the defenders of the myth both in Russia and abroad (as in the case of the Archbishop walking the plank).

      The myth is used to justify nineteenth-century-style imperialism, and to emphasise that "Rome" is "finished". As Vigano/Siffi intuits, this jingoism has an enemy: the traditional West centred on Rome. Hence the call for a global alliance of every religion and political tradition that hates Rome (and Vigano's comfort zone in the heart of Bible-belt WASP conservatism).

      This global, anti-Roman "Traditionalism" is logical when one considers the esoteric/occultist character of the Traditionalism in vogue in Moscow, reaching the most influential circles as well as lowly ones. Alexander Dugin may not be "confessor" to the Russian leadership. But the sinister and downright evil esoterisdm and ideology he's promoted for decades is typical of the state of mind of many "think tanks" in Russia, including those having the ear of the leadership.

      This ideology can be used to invent "nations" that need to be "defended", like the separatist bantustans in Donbass. Does anybody there really believe they are members of nations that are not Russian or Ukrainian? These instruments of Russian policy were made possible by the influx of Russian volunteers and regular army soldiers in 2014. The ideology can justify any war against any nation in Europe. There is no "deal" apart from the West dying which can satisfy this ideology.

      As for the corrupt modern West, Putin claims it doesn't live according to its own values, but he should worry about his own country, which is just as far even Russian traditional values (it's one of the most irreligious peoples on the face of the earth).

      The modern West is a shell of its real self, governed, and is unfortunately defended by people who hold beliefs contrary to its very essence (without, however, being able to eradicate the West). But this shell is our house, and its spirit is still based on an institution that, unlike any country, is eternal and cannot fail, the Church, led by the Papacy As such, the contours of this shell need to be defended ferociously against these external enemies who have declared they are against the West existentially.

      This is the case, obviously, with Islamic extremists, but it's also the case with China, AND the Russia of the Eurasianists. We can't join the barbarians who want to burn down our city, even if they claim they'll teach the West "good morals". Instead, a crisis will bring our the best in the West, force it to restore itself yet again, and confound its enemies. As always. And Russia will join the West.

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    4. Dear Miguel,

      In absolutely no sense are the Russian people guilty of formal schism against Rome. Their first leaders went with Constantinople apparently because they were impressed with the church building there.

      In any case, they followed their mother-church into a schism against Rome. They didn't choose it per se. Certainly their descendants didn't.

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  51. 1
    I do not see the moral clarity of this situation at all. Perhaps some here can help out. Prof Feser maintains that the first, second, and fourth criteria are not met by Russia “given the most generous interpretation of Putin’s motives”. Let us consider those. Putin clearly stated that, at least part of, his reason was the protection of the Russian people of Donbass. Indeed, this was the explicit rationale for his “peacekeeping operations”: “Taking into account the will of the people of the Donetsk People's Republic, Ukraine's refusal to peacefully resolve the conflict in accordance with the Minsk agreements, recognize the Donetsk People's Republic as a sovereign and independent state… In connection with the appeal of the Head of the Donetsk People's Republic to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, prior to the conclusion of the agreement referred to in paragraph 3 of this Decree, the implementation of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of the Donetsk People's Republic of peacekeeping functions.” Cite: Текст правового акта в ИПС «Законодательство России» • Официальный интернет-портал правовой информации (pravo.gov.ru)
    As a commenter had noted, the Kiev regime had decided on a program of cultural genocide. Moreover, Russia credibly claimed that the Kiev regime was planning on an expansive military operation against the breakaway republics. Additionally, Russia has claimed that the operations outside of DNR and LPR are necessary to end the siege of these republics. This last point, at least, is probably correct. Now, let us consider the three criteria in light of these explicitly claimed motives.
    - the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
    Firstly, “nation” and “community of nations” obviously do not strictly refer to administrative units but to peoples. In this context, the community of nations includes Russian-identifying peoples, including peoples of the Donbas region. Grant that Kiev: (a) abrogated the Minsk agreements which would have allowed for a degree of self-determination within Ukraine (they did), (b) planned to pacify these regions through extensive military operations (which seems to be the case), and (c) planned to suppress Russian cultural life (which they were). Would not this constitute lasting, grave, and certain damage against the Russian peoples of eastern Ukraine, which the Kiev regime could have avoided by holding to the Minsk agreement? Now, neglecting to take into account the decade prior, prof. Feser reasons:
    “Even given those premises, it simply doesn’t follow that Ukraine is an “aggressor,” that Russia has suffered any “lasting, grave, and certain” damage from Ukraine, or that “all other means” of remedying Russia’s concerns “have been shown to be impractical or ineffective….”
    Yes, it doesn’t follow that that the Kiev regime is an “aggressor” against Russia. But the regime can reasonably be seen as an aggressor against the Russian peoples of DPR-LPR, who were threatened with continued war and, on defeat, the destruction of their cultural-identity, despite all attempts at reconciliation having failed, with the Kiev regime disregarding the Minsk agreement.
    Given this, by prof. Feser’s own logic [“For that reason, military action to repel Russia’s invasion clearly is legitimate, and justice requires favoring the Ukrainian side in the war. In the abstract, support for Ukraine could include military action against Russia by any nation friendly to Ukraine.”] Russia was completely justified in military actions – granting the claimed motives --against the Kiev regime. Or, if someone here disagrees, please explain how the Kiev regime was unambiguously justified in its war on DPR-LPR?

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  52. 2
    - all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
    Again, if we are to give the most generous interpretation of Putin’s motives, he was responding to Donetsk People's Republic call for fellow Russian aid. Prof. Feser’s logic clearly implies that Russia would be justified in aiding the DPR if the DPR itself was justified in fighting with the Kiev regime. No? So the question is: was the DPR justified? With respect to this immediate point, did the DPR (and for that matter Russia) not exhaust other means? That was the Minsk agreement which Russia forced the DPR-LPR to agree to despite their wish (since 2014) for succession. It was, rather, the Kiev regime, embolden by US promises, who discarded this agreement and move to forcefully assimilate the Russian people of the Donbas. So what was the supposed alternative for DPR-LPR? Prof. Feser’s logic only seems to work because of his historical amnesia.
    2
    - the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
    I do not see a clear interpretation of this. However, prof Feser offers his own: “Putin has not-so-subtly threatened to use nuclear weapons if the United States or other NATO countries intervene militarily in the conflict. The realistic prospect of such extreme escalation makes it impossible for such intervention to meet the Catechism’s fourth criterion… And worst of all would be a scenario where what started out as a local war in Ukraine spiraled into an all-out global nuclear exchange between Russia and the United States.” The implication is that the problem is with the possibility of nuclear war, not conventional war – which he said would have been justified (for Ukraine). But obviously Russia did not risk this in aiding DPR-LPR. What about other casualties and hardships?
    Prof Feser clearly judges that the Kiev regime is justified in prosecuting the war despite these – so they are not of a degree to make conflict inherently unjust. It follows: if DPR-LPR were originally justified, as I suggest above, then Russia is justified in prosecuting the war despite these.
    My assessment here: Were we to take Putin’s claimed rationale at face value – especially about Peacekeeping on behalf of DPR-LPR – it is not obvious, as Prof. Feser claims, that “military action to repel Russia’s invasion clearly is legitimate, and justice requires favoring the Ukrainian side in the war.”
    And I would not rule out the possibility that justice requires favoring the Russian side in the war.
    The assessment heavily depends on the claims about DPR-LPR and our interpretation of authentic motive.
    Summary:
    (1) It is not clear who was justified in the war against the Donbas. One the face of it, a credible case could be made that DPR-LPR was and the Ukraine regime was not.
    (2) If so, by prof. Feser’s own logic, this includes military action against the Kiev regime by Russia
    (3) Unlike in the case of NATO, this appears to be consistent with criteria 4, again by Feser’s own logic.
    Ergo, the moral situation is not at all clear. And obviously there were multiple motives – but that goes for each participant in this conflict.

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    1. No comments? Ok, I will try. It seems clear that the Kiev regime did not meet criteria [2] and may not have met criteria [1] -- since Minsk II was little to no threat to Ukrainian identity or sovereignty -- in respect to the conflict with DPR-LPR. A credible case, however, could be made that DPR-LPR met [1] and [2]. Thus, I submit justice may require favoring the DPR-LPR/Russian side in the war. And if not, then no one. Where is the disagreement?

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  53. Stupid idiots in the media obsessed over a picture of a "Russian convoy" that is "stuck on the road."

    I think they wish the populations of the free world were so easily beguiled back in WWI or II. I mean it took the sinking of an actual ship or the bombing of an actual port back then to get people to fight a war.

    I mean one, single picture: look folks at this picture! The Russians are stuck on one road (never mind they are also supposed to be attacking on multiple fronts!)

    Some day people will grow-up and realize that the picture is just a picture. And I'm sorry: I don't usually hang my underwear out for all the world to see. Obviously everything Russia does is being seen by satellite. Are people so stupid not to realize that on D-Day there were fields of fake tanks and trucks sitting in England for the Germans to take pictures of?

    I have to warn my Ukrainian-Canadian brothers (proportionately, Canada has a large Ukrainian population): if you go over to fight Russia, then Canada will not help you. I personally support you for fighting for your country. I understand the difficulty of leaving a place to another and wanting things to change.

    You may have a passport with the blessing of the Queen of England on it, but neither Canada nor America will bail you out. Let's be serious: neither Canada nor Britain even could if they wanted to and America today is just a clown operation. Ukraine itself is run by absolute idiots. If actual war was to break out, our governments would change in a heart-beat (or maybe not, I mean Canada's WWII PM consulted with his cat - believing his dead mother was talking to him from it - for war advice). What the West can do is stop the war and demand every idiot put down their guns.

    The West has been proven to be a fraud by the Covid-19 outbreak response: forcing citizens to wear masks and get shot-up by God-knows-what that does nothing to prevent or stop diseases at their own expense. That Covid-19 "vaccine" you got? Well get a booster otherwise it is useless.

    Trudeau enacting the war measures act against protests that would make what leftists idiotically raging in America look like upstanding citizens. Imagine if Trump did the same? Actually, I have to thank Trudeau for teaching the right a good lesson: the next time people protest your policy, shut down their policies and declare them all terrorists.

    Everyone with a brain knows the democrats stole the election in 2020 (106% registered voters voting! It's normal folks!): the freaking Pennsylvania Supreme Court over-ruled its own ruling to allow the Governor to issue a last minute change in ballot counting rules because the entire election of 2020 would have been over-ruled by the Supreme Court of the United States because of Penn's false ballot count (congrats Pennsylvania, you're now Florida A.D. 2000).

    I repeat this one last freaking time: the idiots in the press, the "dark days are upon us" because Trump was elected, the LGBTQ community at large: you absolutely will be conscripted to fight this war against Russia. You want Russians dead? Want Putin dead? Go nuts. But you wont be sitting behind a computer writing about it.

    Every "I support Ukraine" freak will sign up for war duty. Because the rest of us have no choice.

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    1. "Everyone with a brain knows the democrats stole the election in 2020 (106% registered voters voting! It's normal folks!):"

      Negative. You are pushing lies.

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  54. I think I've blasted on long enough on Ed's blog. But one last thing: is it racist or pro-Russian to speak of [b]the[/b] Netherlands? Or to call Germans, Germans rather than Deutsch? Or to speak of the low countries? Surely we North Americans are obviously pushing Roman and Spanish imperialism! Obviously!

    Putin had his chance at bat. For anyone with a memory, he struck-out with the sinking of the Kursk: he allowed Russians to die for no reason.

    I wish as an historian I could say that it is some kind of inevitably that slave states perish or totalitarianism fails. Egypt was a slave state, totalitarian dictatorship for millennia. The only true thing I can say about freedom is that free people often fight with a tenacity that bewilders their opponents.

    Ukraine is presently ruled by the very oligarchy both Russians and Westerners complain about ruling in Russia. In fact, they often rule here even in the West. Their violence and malevolence against their fellow human beings is obvious to all.

    The old saying is that there must be an end to war, and wars should be conducted quickly. Allowing Putin and China to create a permanent BS war in Ukraine is utterly unacceptable. Both nations must be punished for there to be peace.

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  55. Why do so many contributors to Edward Feser's blog support Russia in this war? Are you confused about the Filioque? You side with the schismatic so-called Orthodox against the Pope, Bishop of Rome?

    Moscow is not any "Third Rome". There is no third Rome. There is only the Rome into which the saints Peter and Paul spilled their blood.

    I am an atheist. But I protest against the Putin apologists. Just let the people of Ukraine find their place.

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    1. You think NATO and the Biden administration represent the Bishop of Rome? That's hilarious. They more accurately represent the quasireligion of 'diversity, inclusion and equity' and more specifically LGTBQ+.

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    2. "I am an atheist. But..."

      Why would your opinion, as an atheist, be of interest? We are discussing the Catholic Just War doctrine and its applications to this complex conflict. As for the "people of Ukraine" there are multiple, with Russian speaking peoples of Donbas trying to secede.

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    3. Who supports Russia or Putin here? One can believe Biden sucks at opposing Putin without supporting Putin. Tulsi Gabbard is a strong left winger and she seems to think how Biden is handling this war sucks out loud.

      She is hardly a Trump supporter now is she?

      Just saying....

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    4. Tulsi Gabbard USED to be a "strong left winger."
      She has gone hard right now.

      https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/tulsi-gabbard-to-speak-at-cpac-joining-its-great-un-wokening-1310422/

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    5. So, people should just blindly praise anyone and any policy or idea that opposes Putin, otherwise you support Russia?

      Come on, we aren't in the middle of dealing with this crisis. We can philosophize and query the specifics of policies and ideas.

      PS: Russia and China are not the only ones participating in propaganda. Our side does it too.

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    6. "Who supports Russia or Putin here? ..."

      I might. I would need more clarity on the DPR-LPR issue, though. See my argument above. The last poll of Russians I saw showed that 70% supported the actions and that 59% believed that this war was about protecting the Russian people of Donbas, while only 39% thought it was about preventing Ukraine from joining NATO. So, you can ignore/dismiss that justification all you want, but it is widely accepted in the Russophere. However, I don't claim to have any specialties in history or theology -- I just conduct behavioral genetic research. So, this is just my take based on what I have read over the last few years. Of course, I avoid mainstream western media, owing to its astounding level of dishonesty, and that probably influences my perception.

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  56. "NATO's use of force against Russia would NOT fail to meet (2), (3) and (4)."

    Criterion (2) is met by the very fact that Russia has discarded the mechanism for the peaceful settlement of disputes provided for by Chapter VI of the Charter of the United Nations and has completed the act and crime of aggression.

    Criterion (3) is met in that NATO air forces, once suitably deployed, could obliterate Russian units to the north of Kyiv in less than 24 hours.

    Criterion (4) is met in that such use of force by NATO would not of itself give rise to an injustice greater than that of waging aggressive war of territorial conquest by the commission of war crimes as the way to victory - there is no greater injustice than the supreme international crime in the highest degree. The threat of nuclear retaliation by Russia is not relevant to this calculus, as any threat or use of nuclear weapons engages Putin's responsibility, not NATO's.

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  57. Edward Feser, you make no sense because you fail to take into account the world money people, which create these conditions so thy can make more money. It has nothing to do with morality, justification or even the Catholic Church, because the Christian faith based on Jesus life and death was that every life is worth saving, So can you just say what is the bottom line of a just war ( if there is such a thing), how many people have to be killed?, how many children must loose their parents and see the horrors of war to declare a just war???.

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    1. J.C,

      The whole idea of putting an exact number on things is ridiculous. This is like asking how many hairs must a man have on his face before he has a beard? Obviously, it might be hard to determine the exact number, but we can tell that at some point they do have a beard.

      To answer you question: NATO getting involved would bring two nuclear military blocks in to direct conflict, which will likely lead to vastly more children's parents dying and vastly more children seeing the horrors of war than is currently happening in Ukraine.

      So, we may not be able to put an exact number on it, but we can recognize that a nuclear war across multiple countries in Europe will be worse than what is currently happening in Ukraine.

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  58. Fascinating that the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" totally ignores any moral perspective.
    By comparison, Abe Lincoln (a probable atheist) said
    "The probability that we might fail aught not deter us from the defence of a cause we believe to be just"

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    1. The full quote is "The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just." He seems to be limiting his comment to "the struggle", i.e. one specific war. He might or might not think the comment controls in application to war analysis in general.

      And we have good reason to think (whatever Lincoln thought) that it does not control in all war situations. The virtue of prudence requires that after we establish that X end is either morally good or morally neutral (and thus is a permissible end to choose), we consider not only whether we can achieve X desired outcome, but also (a) the costs needed to achieve it, (b) the OTHER effects that come about, both by the method used and the downstream effects of X itself. The conditions laid out by Feser are merely a way of crystalizing some of the elements of that general requirement of prudence.

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  59. Great article.
    But I'd go further.
    The problem with the evil inflicted by Russia on Ukrainian civilians is not merely that it's disproportionate to the harm (real or imagined) suffered by Russia.
    The problem is that it's making war on civilians (not merely inflicting casualties as "collateral damage" in the course of attacks on legitimate military targets), and therefore intrinsically immoral, regardless of any broader strategic concerns.

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    1. It is, I think, pretty much a given (for moral analysis) that in any war, at least one side is doing so "unjustly" - i.e. does not have "just cause" to enter into war, which is however only ONE of the required conditions to enter into the war rightly. This is what covered by condition 1. But it is by no means a given that the other side (opposite the one that does not have just cause) DOES always have just cause to enter the war. It is notionally possible that both sides fail to have just cause. However, if one side is fighting on their own soil AND did not start the shooting, usually it is assumed that they have just cause to the extent of defending themselves. (This assumption can be defeated by a showing that they have acted unjustly in a grave way that justifies an attack on their soil.)

      But the point of the other 3 conditions is that even the side that does really have a just cause might not be morally well-advised to fight: the fact that the other side is "doing something gravely and intrinsically immoral" is not sufficient to mean the just defender meets all 3 of the other conditions and ought to go to war. They MAY, but it depends on particulars. If the defender can (barely) win ONLY by a scorched earth policy that kills off 95% of their own people, maybe victory (and its costs) is an inadequate trade-off compared to losing (and its costs). It's kind of like being the victim of a mugging: if you fight, you MIGHT prevent the theft, at the cost of being shot (with either death or weeks of hospitalization and rehabilitation), but if you just give up the darn wallet and walk away, your long-term costs are far less. It is certainly the case that the mugger is doing something intrinsically immoral. That doesn't mean you are well-advised to fight him for your wallet.

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  60. [Someone might make] educated guesses on what "just war theory" might be, based on the meaning of the words alone.

    In case anyone is buying this, and hasn't done any homework either, here's a couple of errors this approach can lead you into:

    1) Just War theory is not "A theory", like the Theory of Evolution or the Theory of Relativity, ie a hypothesis to be tested. It's more theory as opposed to practice (like "probability theory") - specifically, the branch of moral theology that relates to warfare.

    2) Just War theory is not about declaring a particular war to be just or unjust. It's not a question of saying "the American Civil War was a just war. Rather, it's about assessing the justice or otherwise of a particular side in going to war, and/or the justice or otherwise of particular actions within that war.

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  61. Who is more corrupt Vladimir Putin or Volodymyr Zelenskyy? Who cares.

    Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy went before the U S Congress urging them to join him in his unnecessary war with Russia.

    Ukraine’s chance of winning a war with Russia is zero.

    So why didn’t Zelenskyy do his best to avoid such a war?
    We liked to know what did the USA Deep State have to do with his decision.

    Zelenskyy is really not a true Ukrainian; he is a professional comic who sees Christian Ukrainians as OTHER.

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