Watching the news reports and videos coming out of Ukraine, one thing that strikes the observer is the utterly baffled response of the people of Ukraine: “Why are you here?” they say to the Russians. “What have we done to you?” Our personal contacts in that country say the same thing: Why did the Russians invade? What do they really want? Why are they killing people indiscriminately?
|Vlad the Vomitous?|
A number of rationalizations have been advanced, both by the Kremlin and Russian stooges in this country. All the rhetoric about “de-Nazification” and corruption, genocide, blah, blah, sounds very hollow when thumped. The bottom line is that there are two reasons for Russia invading Ukraine, both of which boil down to money and power. Putin wants to be the Tsar of the World. The individual soldiers uniformly give the same reason, at least when they have one: money . . . just like everyone else in Russia who seeks power over others. People bleat about corruption in Ukraine, but Ukrainians are amateurs at it compared to the Russians, with Putin at the top of the food chain. Putin, in fact, may be the biggest thief in human history. (He’s still working on becoming the greatest mass murderer.)
This is borne out by the fact that while the ostensible reason for the invasion — excuse me, “special military operation” — is to liberate the Ukrainian people from Nazis and corrupt oligarchs, what is being liberated is people’s souls from their bodies, and their goods from their possession. In Bucha, for examples, survivors tell of Russian soldiers’ amazement at the “vast wealth” of the ordinary Ukrainian.
|Typical Russian village house|
Russians found laptops in almost every home, and the homes of average Ukrainians themselves — before being destroyed — seemed to be palaces to the Russians, who seemingly didn’t blink at Putin’s $1.3 billion dacha. Signs were found spray painted on walls along the lines of, “HOW DARE YOU LIVE THIS WELL?”
One old woman mentioned a Russian soldier screaming at her, enraged that he found a jar of Nutella in her house, a somewhat pricey hazelnut-chocolate bread spread that seemed an unimaginable luxury to the Russian who proceeded to steal it and everything else not nailed down, including the sheets from the bed. Russians evidently don’t care for peanut butter (we looked it up), but the fact that Ukrainians can afford Nutella drives them into a killing frenzy. The amount of loot being shipped home by Russian soldiers via Belarussian post offices is incredible, including jewelry (such as earrings ripped from women’s ears before torturing, raping, strangling, and attempting to burn the bodies to cover up their heroic deeds), appliances, computers, cell phones, toys, cars, even furniture.
The cost of attempted conquest in Russian lives is phenomenal, although they seem determined to kill as many civilians as they can to make it worth their while. Russian losses go from a conservative low of about 30,000 killed and wounded (with a few thousand desertions thrown in for good measure), to a possibly overly optimistic high of about 80,000.
|Liberated Ukrainian village.|
The former figure translates into 20% of the original invading force of 150,000, while the latter tips the scales at more than 50%. Military experts say that 10% casualties render a unit “ineffective,” while 15-20% means the unit should seriously consider retreat or surrender.
Of course, military experts have also described the whole invasion as “inept” and “incompetent” . . . except when it comes to looting, torture, slaughter and kidnapping of women and children (a favorite Russian target), systematic rape, targeting civilians, covering up, lying, etc., etc., etc., by Putin and his goons. Nor do we rely solely on the official news channels for this information but have personal contacts who provide corroborating details not available to the general public — something for which those of you with weak stomachs should be grateful.
All of this makes the reaction of some Americans utterly baffling. Bruce Fenton, a New Hampshire Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, has compared Ukrainian President Zelenskyy to Bin Laden. Of course, Fenton also backs cryptocurrency in a way that suggests he lives in a fantasy world, anyway. Not that Fenton is alone in being a Putin Panderer and living in the alternative reality created by the Russians, although he seems a trifle extreme in his views.
A bit less extreme — but just as baffling — are the pronouncements of the noted Catholic commentator and biographer Mr. Joseph Pearce. Evidently also buying into Putin’s blood-drenched and paranoid fantasies, at one point Mister Pearce seemed to be claiming that Putin is on “the right side of history,” and then later seemed to say that that it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re on the “right side” at all. We think that’s called “Having your cake and eating it, too.”
|Mister Joseph Pearce|
Admittedly, this comes from someone who has declared that there is a “truth beyond reality” (say, wuh?), but even Mister Pearce should know that truth means conformity with reality. Anything more, and you’re either delusional or a liar. This is because the notion that truth can go beyond reality contradicts a fundamental principle of reason.
In a 1982 interview with Bill Moyers, for example, when asked, “What is truth?” the noted Aristotelian philosopher Mortimer Adler responded, “Truth consists in the agreement of what we think and what is in the world, what is real.” Six Great Ideas, I. Truth. There is also J.M. Bocheński, who noted, “[A] proposition is true . . . when the corresponding state of affairs is the case.” (J(ózef) M(aria) Bocheński, The Methods of Contemporary Thought. New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1968, 6.)
Less offensive, but equally as baffling, is some commentary by Rod Dreher, whose The Benedict Option has achieved notable success. We have an extremely short critique of Mr. Dreher’s proposal in The Greater Reset, and this is not the place for it, anyway. What this is the place for is a critique of Mister Dreher’s opinions about Ukraine . . . if we could figure them out, which we can’t. Maybe that’s a flaw in us, but that’s the way it is.
Just as confusing is an interview by John C. Médaille, who is another who seems to want to have his cake and eat it, too. After gassing on using sanctimonious and confusing doubletalk about subsidiarity, faith-based politics, and economics to establish his Kingdom of God on Earth, Mister Médaille declared, “Russia does have some legitimate in interests in the Eastern part of Ukraine, and in the Crimea.” ’Nuff said.
|Mister Dale Ahlquist|
Dale Ahlquist, the noted Chesterton scholar, is in a league of his own. In a piece entitled “War and Rumor of War” (possibly written before Putin goosestepped into Ukraine, but published about a month or so into it with no retraction of or apology for its content so far as we know), Mister Ahlquist evidently feels that common humanity has no claim on him or anybody else, and that looting, torture, rape, and murder are none of anyone’s business but the perpetrator and the victim. As he stated, after discussing the various scenarios that would result from the Russian invasion of Ukraine,
Most likely, however, is the one where the United States will have enmeshed itself in another long and hopeless war that is hardly our business. But we will make it our business, and we will send our soldiers to die trying solve other people’s problems.
Meanwhile, we are doing nothing to solve our own. Things are still a total mess here on the home front, where we do not exactly enjoy the peace we are urging on other nations.
|CESJ and Polish Solidarity with John Paul II|
Speak for yourself, Mister Ahlquist. Rather than standing on the sidelines sneering sanctimoniously at the ungodly or anyone else who doesn’t measure up to our standards, the interfaith Center for Economic and Social Justice has been working for decades to solve problems in a way that is just for everyone — even the ungodly or non-godly — as a cursory visit to the website would reveal.
Mister Ahlquist, by the way, is founder and president of the American Chesterton Society . . . or the Society of G.K. Chesterton, or whatever it’s called now, which states on its homepage that it wants to “[r]enew the world through Christian joy & common sense” and claims, “Our mission is to evangelize through education, inspiring people to live joyful, holy lives, with G.K. Chesterton as a model of lay spirituality. Let G.K. Chesterton be your guide to a deeper faith, intellectual clarity, and greater joy.” [Emphasis in original.]
Of course, if you want our latest effort to correct problems and get things back on track, i.e., actually do something instead of condemning and criticizing the efforts and sufferings of others, you might want to get a copy of The Greater Reset: Reclaiming Personal Sovereignty Under Natural Law. It might just open a few minds — and hearts.