Two main components comprise the foreign policy and military world: policy and operations. Policy officers determine the objectives; operations officers get the job done. Both cooperate to accomplish their goals.
In the Catholic Church, Jesus is the highest-ranking policy officer, with the Apostles and their successors as high-ranking operations officers. Concerning Church matters, priests and bishops are operations personnel in the field. A priest who pretends he is a policy officer plays a dangerous game.
But every voter in the US by right — including a priest —is a policy analyst. The Ukraine conflict provides a setting for every armchair analyst. Here is my commentary.
After the collapse of the Soviet empire, a saying arose: Russian rulers determine their oligarchs; Ukraine oligarchs determine their rulers. The phrase sounds about right based on reports coming from that part of the world. Ukraine has become one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Who knows? Ukraine oligarchs may have determined the behavior of our rulers. Time will tell.
The toxic politics of America and the incompetency and malice of the mainstream media have ruined our trust. We don’t know the facts because they don’t provide them or lie.
The lies are numerous and numbing: the Russia hoax, mendacious COVID narratives, the “mostly peaceful” Black Lives Matter riots, the refusal on Woke grounds to cover the Waukesha slaughter, the January 6 “insurrection,” the border security fraud, transgender advocacy that disguises the horror of genital mutilation, the Biden and Pelosi claim of devout Catholic status, and so on.
Adding insult to injury, U.S. military policymakers have now gone woke. According to a Heritage Foundation report, “Wokeness in the military is being imposed by elected and appointed leaders in the White House, Congress, and the Pentagon who have little understanding of the purpose, character, traditions, and requirements of the institution they are trying to change.”
Institutionalized lies provide the context for another futile war — supported by Hollywood clichés, the Washington establishment, and a mendacious media. With policies set in secret by elites, most political, religious, and media establishments are dutifully executing operations supporting objectives they struggle to articulate.
On the eve of the Russian attack on eastern Ukraine, my American citizen policy view was simple: Ukraine, Russia, and the upcoming war are none of our business. The European Union has more interest in the stability of Europe than Americans. The US doesn’t need another proxy war. Beginning with Korea, the US has a track record of horribly destructive operational half-measures with questionable constitutional authority supporting ill-defined objectives that usually end badly.
Recognizing the widespread corruption in Russia and Ukraine, I have wondered how ordinary Ukrainians would fare under Russian occupation. How would life change if Russian oligarchs replaced Ukrainian oligarchs? Probably not much. But that’s none of our business, either.
I hoped negotiations would prevent the meat grinder of war. I especially hoped my country would not participate in the sausage-making. American policy incompetence in Afghanistan was fresh in my memory. Over twenty years of occupation (with rainbow flags hanging from the US embassy) and President Biden’s feckless withdrawal from Afghanistan is becoming the policy standard.
An early negotiated settlement between the warring parties in Ukraine was within reach not long ago. Perhaps all would agree to the neutrality of Ukraine and cede some of the Russian-speaking portions of Ukraine back to Russia. Hope evaporated. Instead, the US intervened and provided billions in wartime assistance to Ukraine with no end in sight. The European Union (roughly comparable to the US economy) has contributed much less to the war effort. First and foremost, it is their collective responsibility. Washington has failed to demonstrate why US interests are more significant than European interests.
The US is stuck with pesky unarticulated policy questions. What are the American strategic objectives? What are our national interests justifying the proxy war with Russia? Do our policy objectives justify the risk of WWIII? If not, how do those policy measures explain the half-measures of military support? How does the slaughter of ordinary Ukrainians (the working men, not the oligarchs and rulers) justify the American extension of the war? There are moral imperatives here in the formation of our nation’s policies.
As the harsh Ukrainian winter descends, depending upon the lies we choose to believe, upwards of 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers may have died in the war, with a similar number of Russians. The media repeatedly report that Russians are losing, and the Ukrainian counteroffensive was wildly successful in recapturing contested territory. But now the Russians are taking out the energy grids of Ukraine, about to place the whole country into a deadly deep freeze, and massing troops. The Russians aim to win big, possibly with widespread death and destruction.
Ironically, many Russians are reportedly upset with their leadership for pursuing only half-measures instead of winning the war. It is reminiscent of Vietnam, where half-measures on the part of American policy led to much death and suffering without a positive outcome.
In part, negotiations are in deep freeze because meddling Americans have kept the Zelensky government on financial life support, with a thriving illegal arms trade. As Ukraine freezes, reports indicate that most Ukrainian oligarchs rest comfortably in elegant European hot spots.
The US hasn’t officially sent in troops (a secret contingent of Special Forces personnel counts only in terms of body bags). We won’t raise the rainbow flag of victory and probably won’t receive Russian POWs. Look at the bright side. The reluctance to send troops saves our guys from the ignominy of using a POW intake form that asks: What is your gender assigned at birth? What are your preferred pronouns?
Political elites in both parties and the experts and Hollywood stands proudly in a virtue-signaling posture with Zelensky and his oligarchs. Let’s stand, instead, with ordinary Ukrainians and not the inexplicable American proxy war.
Jesus offers good policy advice: “What king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?” (Lk. 14:31)
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