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  • Reverend James Squire

The First Anniversary of Putin's War and a Question

Have you wondered why Putin never uses the word, war? Instead, he uses a special military action. It is because a war implies certain standards of how it should be fought. It is referred to as the Just War Clause. What’s in a name? A lot! The Just War Clause started with some of the thinking of Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. It comes under the heading of Natural Law which bridges the gap between “Thou shall not kill” and “You have to go to War.” The justification for going to war are outlined as opposed to a special military operation. That is why President Biden constantly refers to what is occurring as Putin’s War which has become the description used by NATO and other European nations.

These characteristics of a Just War referred to as Just Ad Bellum are: all other attempts at resolution must first occur; the war must be fought out of self-defense; civilians should not be harmed; and the war must be fought in a conventional way meaning you don’t bomb hospitals, schools, and civilian shelters.

It doesn’t take much insight to see that Putin and Russia have failed to meet the criteria as outlined above. War crimes come with a similar description which brings up a question that has been avoided. How are you going to get Putin to a trial for war crimes after you are in it to win it? This question is as important as any raised regarding the war for it reflects his investment in winning. It is personal for him as the sakes for him are high.

I believe that the war is not being fought in a fair way. I agree with the approach of a ranking member of the Congressional Armed Services Committee to respond to this kind of situation of how the war should be fought. Republican Senator Roger Wicker feels that Ukraine with the support of the allies should be in it to win it. His committee would like to give ten times what Biden has said he would desire to give Ukraine. We also know that the American people are split evenly on whether support should be given to Ukraine for Putin’s War. This attitude is present because the war hasn’t come “home” for them. What about Putin’s trial for war crimes?

Putin brings in his reinforcements which are warm bodies with no experience or merchants of war who aren’t even Russian. No one where I grew up would tolerate an unfair fight or a person “sucker punching” an adversary.

However, my major influence to be in it to win it is based on the fact that it was against the culture in which I lived to have someone else fight a battle for you. That is exactly what the West including us is willing to do. It reminds me of the Civil War where you could pay someone to fight in your place. Ukraine is keeping the Russians out of Europe, but we give them just enough to win some and lose some.

Russia is a bully and is threatening the use of nuclear war. This hits on two of my hot buttons. Don’t bully me or disrespect me with a threat. A few times I would have a super aggressive parent who was always use to getting his way threaten that, “I am going to bring you up to the Board of Trustees.” I responded differently than they expected. When that happened diplomacy went out the door. My response was that “they may have to stand in line to do that for there may be more in front of you.” If you are going to stand your ground, that is going to happen. I was blessed by always having the support of the Board even when they got complaints from others.

Russia has destroyed the Ukrainian buildings and people. Recently we saw Putin whip up the Russian people on the year anniversary of the special military mission. Why not destroy the Red Square? I have been there. It would bring the war home to them. Change won’t occur in Russia until the people feel its results. I thought that the mothers of those who died would accomplish this. That hasn’t happened. I thought the oligarchs would pressure him. That hasn’t happened.

Now about the nuclear bomb for those of you who think that I am a warmonger. Do you really think that Putin would use any form of discretion in using the bomb when he has nothing to lose when people come for him to try him as a war criminal? As I have written recently, if someone shows you who they are at first, believe them. Russian soldiers have died, but so have Ukrainian soldiers and ORDINARY citizens. No peaceful resolution seems possible because Putin is never going to stand for trial as a war criminal. There is no off ramp that either side will accept because Putin’s war crimes are billboards along the off ramp. They read PUTIN IS A WAR CRIMINAL. TRIAL COMING SOON!

It is unethical to give the Ukrainians just enough to hold the line and not let Russia win. It is cowardly. I applaud the bipartisan work of the Democrats and Republicans who understand historically who Putin really is and what he would really do. He has indiscriminately killed babies, children, men, and women civilians. We know who he is! When he threatened us with the words “Why should the world exist if there is no Russia,” we know he has no moral center!

Many have heard the statement that “an eye for an eye” makes two people blind. That is a misunderstanding of Lex Talionis that said that actions are not revenge if you have the punishment fit the crime. It came into existence to correct actions that were too severe for the crime committed. I believe that the Just War Clause and Lex talionis support my opinion and that of Senator Roger Wicker and General Wesley Clark. Putin’s trial should be part of all of it.

Normal may be a setting on your clothes dryer, but there is nothing normal in the way that Russia has carried out this war in Ukraine. It has destroyed a people and a place and ranks as one of the devastating wars in history. All normal responses don’t apply to this war for the terror created in the hearts of people whose only desire has been to live in peace. General Wesley Clark in an article on February 24, 2023 writes, “Most wars are usually ended by negotiations but negotiations ensue only when one side or the other foresees losing on the battlefield and the outcome of such negotiations reflects battlefield outcomes. Putin is determined but he is irrational. He must be convinced that he is losing to be persuaded to come to the negotiation table.” Not going to happen. We can win the battle but Putin’s war crimes must be at the center of any negotiations.

The last time that war directly affected us led to a negotiation that included the Nuremberg Trial of Nazis who committed war crimes. Why should Putin’s War be any different? That should be a central question before we put the cart before the horse. What about that question AND THE BILLBOARDS ALONG THE OFF RAMP?

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