Ukraine #1

In the past, I have made passing references to Ukraine, and those references have made clear my distaste for Putin’s brand of Russian adventurism, along with my sympathies for Ukraine, stuck as they are with us on their side, us being such a hapless chump of a superpower. For example, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine had a bunch of nukes. We talked them into surrendering those nukes in exchange for us guaranteeing their borders. They were stupid enough to believe us, so it is partly their fault I guess.

But this promises to descend into the particulars too quickly. I do want to get there in subsequent installments, but first I want to make some distinctions between two different kinds of political issues. There are the “do triangles have three sides?” issues, and there are the “did Smith shoot Murphy on the night of the 13th?” issues. Whether minimum wage laws are a good idea is the former kind of issue, and who should own the Crimea is the latter kind.

Unfortunately, the latter kind of issue is the kind that winds up in shooting wars, when the issues are often far more murky than people like to pretend, while the former kind of issue is the kind where people are prone to adopt a live and let live approach. You know, some Christian traditions believe that it would be more generous and more in keeping with the social justice spirit of Christ if we let triangles have four sides, or perhaps even five. In other words, when everything is very clear and demonstrable, we exercise the spirit of charity. When everything is floating on the surface of one hundred thousand variables, and millions of actors, over the course of centuries, we start yelling how OBVIOUS it all is, and start hunting for our gun.

Put it another way. Some political issues are a test of your ability to think, and others are a test of your ability to investigate. Some are logical issues and others are historical issues. The former requires mental training and discipline, and the latter requires mental training, discipline, and a mountain of historical facts.

Let me give two examples, both close to home. The first example postulates that it costs ten dollars apiece to manufacture a widget. If the government requires the manufacturer to sell their widgets for five dollars apiece, will we still have any widgets soon? The second example asks whether we have a moral obligation to give the state of Georgia back to the Cherokee.

One other key factor has to be taken into consideration. When two nations come into conflict, the war will generally be fought by young men who cannot possibly know all the factors that led up to your average conflict, and who yet are still in a position to make an honorable decision.

One eighteen-year-old young man enlists the day after 9-11 and goes off to fight in a war in Iraq that was mismanaged by Bush and lost by Obama. Not only does he fight there, but he is killed there. Another eighteen-year-old agitates for the minimum wage to be hiked by a couple of bucks because wouldn’t it be grand? I admire the former, even as I object to the war.

I have nothing but admiration for the men who were killed in their valiant defense of our embassy in Benghazi. That is not likely to change, even if (when?) we discover that we had an operation in Benghazi in the first place because we were running guns to Syria, in order to provide them to rebel forces who would be, in short order, beheading Christians for the camera. In other words, a man can fight honorably in a stupid war. A man can only agitate for a stupid law by being a fool himself, or cynical, neither of which is good for his soul.

So this is the platform upon which I desire to sit as we discussion the convoluted issues that swirl around Russia, eastern Europe, and the West. And I would call upon all participants to acknowledge how complicated it necessarily is.

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Paul
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Paul

Pastor Wilson, as someone living within 300 miles from the above-mentioned area, I’ll be eagerly expecting your future posts on the topic. I admire your approach and think that it we really need more of it in the hot heads that run this little show.

Sean Carlson
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Sean Carlson

Your words re-inforce the need to G O S L O W L Y when weighing whether or not to militarily intervene in foreign affairs ( if to intervene at all ).

Drew
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Drew

@ Sean Carlson

Indeed, I think we should go slowly in making these decisions, and I tend to almost always lean towards NOT going to war, though I am not a pure pacifist. I think you’re correct in that Doug’s words do reinforce that we ought to go slowly, but Doug also is admitting his distaste for Putin, and in a previous post, Doug came just short of saying that Obama should have sent troops to defend Ukraine…so I’m anxious to see where Doug stands on this.

BJ
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BJ

Doug, Could you, as you progress through this, be clear on your theological underpinnings? I know that seem like a elementary request from a pastor, but I think sometimes you assume too much from your audience. The reason I ask this is that the decision to intervene militarily can be driven by subconscious theological drives. My dispensational brothers (not all of them, of course, but the ones that I know personally) are much quicker and more aggressive to call for bombs. I feel like my eschatological optimism keeps me from wanting to blow up potential converts to Christ. Either of… Read more »

just josh
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just josh

Having spent a spiritually productive 1% of my life near Kiev I find a desire to pick up my AK and help the cause. And having spent the other 99% of my life in the United States I find little desire to send our country there to to muck up the muck even more.

Drew, is there such a thing as a “pure pacifist”? I jest. But is there?

JohnM
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JohnM

If a Ukraine with nuclear weapons sounded like a bad idea twenty years ago it sounds like a worse idea now. Nothing about nuclear weapons on Ukrainian soil – if indeed that is still where they would be in any case, and notice I only said on Ukrainian soil – would improve the present situation. I’m not sorry Ukrainians gave up nuclear weapons – and neither should the Ukrainians be.

timothy
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timothy

Who stole the Ukrainian gold reserves?

I am on the side opposite whoever that was; given reports, I suspect it was the U.S.

“official” America is a liar. If it where a person, it would be in open rebellion before God, a veritable un-man.

Barnabas
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Barnabas

The current Ukraine situation is an excellent teaching moment on how the US creates and enters conflicts around the world to support the interests of a few US individuals and corporations and how the media sells the conflict to the American people. CNN is selling it to bring gay pride to Russia. Fox is selling it to show American strength. Both are selling the conflict to bring constitutional democracy to Russia and the Ukraine, never mind that we did it through a coup and that we aren’t doing constitutional democracy so well in America right now. Any opposition to the… Read more »

kentwarrenmcdonald
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I wish there were more people in our government who would speak out when conditions call for it. And by “speak out” I mean give a thoughtful treatise attempting to properly frame the discussion before releasing the “dogs of war”. All too often public opinion seems to be conciously shaped by media professionals whose sole goal is higher ratings. After more than 25 years in broadcast media, I have been privy to far too much heated rhetoric of the “if it bleeds, it leads” kind. I am grateful for the advent of the internet and the rise of voices like… Read more »

Drew
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Drew

@ just josh

Perhaps not, but to shed more light on what I was referring to there, I don’t like war because God usually doesn’t like it, but of course, if an Amelekite broke into my home with a gun, I would not hesitate to end him.

Matt Massingill
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Matt Massingill

Question for you Pastor Doug, I agree with your comment about those on the ground who (often or usually) cannot possibly know enough to definitively sort through the issues relating to whether the conflict is justified. But in this information age, it is possible in some cases to have access to enough information that would provide a sound conclusion about a conflict – more so than would have been the case in previous era’s wars. Admittedly, this could cut both ways, it is also possible to be even more confused as we are awash in a mountain of information that… Read more »

Rob Slane
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Doug, I’m not at all sure what you mean by Putin’s brand of Russian adventurism. Which Russian adventurism are you actually referring to? If it is a reference to Georgia and South Ossetia, even the far from pro-Russia EU admits that this was not started by Russia, but by the tie-eating former premier of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8281990.stm Russia simply responded to that aggression. If it is a reference to Crimea, then again I’m perplexed. Ukraine had a democratically elected government until February 21st last year, at which point it was overthrown in a violent coup spearheaded by ultra-right militias,… Read more »

melody
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melody

Of course we should give Georgia back to the Cherokee. Being that I am one 64th Cherokee and that I think Atlanta is a beautiful city, I would, of course make my choice of land in that area. Can’t wait!

Matt
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Matt

…war in Iraq that was mismanaged by Bush and lost by Obama. That has to be the most ridiculous distortion of history–wait, are you trolling again? Whether minimum wage laws are a good idea is the former kind of issue, and who should own the Crimea is the latter kind. Well no, whether minimum wage laws are a good idea is a matter of cost-benefit analyses and judgment calls, not anything like a definitional question of whether triangles (literally “three angles”) have three sides. I think you got a little too excited about grinding that particular axe. For that matter,… Read more »

BJ
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BJ

Matt,

Other than your little snipe about trolling, I have to concede that I agree to some degree with everything you just said. The Iraq war, bad move. The minimum wage, a bit more complicated than triangles. The thing about Georgia and Crimea, not a true or false issue, sounds more like a complicated worldview debate.

I usually don’t get your thinking, but today I have to admit. You nailed it.

Under His Mercy,
BJ

David R
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David R

In regards to the minimum wage, there are few things more certain than the fact that when the price of a things goes up, you will have less of that thing. When the price of beef goes up, people will buy less beef. When the price of cars go up, people will buy less cars. And when the price of labor goes up, people will buy less labor. This is economic fact.

So water is wet, triangles have three sides, and raising the minimum wage decreases employment.