A photo of a destroyed city in Ukraine. CREDIT: JOEL CARILLET
Once all the ordinance sent into Ukraine by both the Russians and NATO, which includes Canada, is exploded, what will be left of Ukraine?

When Russia first invaded Ukraine, we gloated. Putin, some prestigious commentators were saying, would lose everything. The Russian economy would fall apart. Markets for Russian oil would wither. NATO would become stronger rather than, as Putin wished, weaker. Putin’s stature among the “oligarchs” and the Russian people would plummet. The Russian military would be exposed as a sad sack organization. As proof of that, videos appeared all over the internet showing Russian tanks being blown up (with young Russians inside them). The Russian military would soon be driven from Ukraine. After all, the analysts said, in a war, morale is the most important weapon there is. And Ukrainian fighters had plenty, and more to spare, while Russians youths were sent to fight against their will.

Practically none of that, it turns out, was true. One item, though, does appear to have come to pass. NATO seems stronger, more united, and poised to expand. But it is not clear that a stronger NATO, with a more menacing presence from the Russian perspective, won’t provoke more deadly responses from Russia in the future. One has only to remember how Germany was humiliated by the allies during World War I. Hitler used this to galvanize the German people for a bright new day (for them).

Does anyone really doubt that the Russian people couldn’t be galvanized by Putin, or another leader, leading them out of the path of international humiliation to a bright new day for the motherland. I have been to Russia. Russians are not stupid, cowardly, lazy or unpatriotic.

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It is never a good idea to underestimate your enemy and to assume that his people cannot rise above extremely dire circumstances. Witness the British and the Germans during World War II, and yes, witness the Russians during the same war.

We should also consider that NATO is an alliance of nations that is committed to mutually defending all its partners. An attack against one will result in a response from all. This is how World War I started. Prior to the war, Europe was a tinderbox of nationalism, militarism, treaties and alliances. It blew up following the assassination of a government figurehead in Sarajevo. As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Furthermore, there has been for many decades, in the West, a simmering animosity towards Russia. It was the biggest of the members of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Our enemy during the Cold War. Ukraine was a member of it too People forget. The union is no more. But the largest of its constituent “republics,” Russia, certainly is, and serves as the popular bad guy in every other Hollywood spy movie. And now that the murderous intentions of Russia are once again on full display, it would be nice, wouldn’t it, to see Putin shown the door by the international community, if not by his own people? Of course, who will replace him? Another Joseph Stalin perhaps? Be careful what you wish for.

It is said in this country that any nation is morally and ethically obligated to stand with a nation fighting for self-determination. Really? Pay attention and be aware of what that means. What it means at the moment is that, apparently, we are willing to risk nuclear war in our enthusiasm to see Russia nailed and Ukraine independent. What it means, for now, is not that we ourselves go to face Russian soldiers, putting our own lives at risk; it means that we supply the Ukrainians with the means to continue putting their lives at risk. It means that we provide the bombs that will be blown up, not on Russian soil, but on Ukrainian. And definitely not on ours.

Once all the ordinance sent into Ukraine by both the Russians and NATO, which includes Canada, is exploded, what will be left of Ukraine? What numbers will be put on the carnage? Putin’s destruction of Aleppo, and more recently, Mariupol, may provide the best answer.

Zelenskyy and Putin are two proud leaders who to me seem more similar than they are different. The grand narrative that guides much of the political life of Russia looks forward to the day when Russia will once again be a proud nation, perhaps the greatest one in the world. I have been to Ukraine also. Ukrainians have a different narrative underlying their national politics, a narrative of fierce independence from invaders, whether from Nazi Germany or modern-day Russia. In Russia, it is risky for people to question their national story. In Ukraine, and perhaps elsewhere, it is risky to question theirs.

I don’t know if Jesus Christ would have been comfortable with the label, “pacifist.” In the past I have thought he would have been, but more recently I have had doubts. His people, 2,000 years ago, were living under an abysmally cruel regime. Garrisons of the Roman Empire enforced the imperial oppressive status quo. That enforcement sometimes took the form of mass crucifixions, thousands of victims at once. Revolt was in the air all the time. Freedom fighters would rise but were always captured and executed. Yet, Jesus did not advocate joining them.

He had a different agenda in mind. Yes, the Romans would continue, for a limited time, to suppress the Jewish people. But Jesus had no wish to set his followers on a path of confrontation, a path that would truly awaken the beast and see women, children, the elderly and the young devoured by war.

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