The Charge of the Light Brigade

Map Ukraine and Crimea 2014, Colored areas pro-Russian
Map Ukraine and Crimea 2014, Colored areas pro-Russian

 “…All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.”

“Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered.
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
Rode the six hundred.”

Many are familiar with Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s famous poem that followed by a few days the newspaper reports of a military disaster for British forces at the Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1854. It took place in Crimea, which is very much in the news today because of the present war between Russia and Ukraine. The Crimean War from 1853 to 1856 was between the British Empire and its allies ( principally France and the Ottoman Turks) and the Russian Empire. Crimea had been part of the Russian Empire since 1783. The Battle of Balaclava was part of the siege of Sevastopol, Russia’s principal naval base on the Black Sea.

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Putin’s Terrorist Campaign in Ukraine

Destroyed Russian equipment near Bucha, Mvs.gov.ua March 7, 2022.
Destroyed Russian equipment near Bucha, Mvs.gov.ua March 7, 2022.

Bucha is a small city of 37,000 about 15 miles northwest of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, bordering the Hostomel (Antonov) Airport.  It was captured by Russian forces on March 12 and recaptured by the Ukrainian Army on March 31.

According to interviews with Bucha residents conducted by the anti-war Russian journal website, Meduza, Bucha became directly involved in the war on March 4, when a column of Russian equipment passed through the center of Bucha on its way to Irpin.  One witness told Meduza that “Our [Ukrainian] artillery “finished them off” from an Irpin checkpoint, destroying most of their equipment — they literally burned it to the ground.”

“The city had a territorial defense force, and they started shooting. They [the Russian troops] responded by shooting straight at apartment buildings. During the shooting, a fire broke out in my building after a BRDM (Armored Reconnaissance and Patrol Vehicle) fired a shell at the third story. I live on the fourth.”

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Division in the Eastern Orthodox Church

Kyiv Refectory Church Complex UOC-MP Overlooking Dnieper River.
Kyiv Refectory Church Complex UOC-MP Overlooking Dnieper River.

There are approximately 260 million Orthodox Christians in the world, and the two largest nations where Orthodox Christianity predominates are Russia and Ukraine. The Eastern Orthodox Church in Constantinople (now Istanbul) broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in 1054, in what is usually termed “the Great Schism.” The chief dispute was over the authority of the Pope. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 to Muslim armies of the Ottoman Empire, the main center of Orthodox Christianity became Moscow. There is no office equivalent to Pope in Orthodox Christianity, and national Orthodox churches have considerable autonomy.  

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

History’s Lessons for Just War and National Security

Russia’s War on Ukraine

St. Augustine painting
St. Augustine painting

Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Union General William T. Sherman had quite different philosophies of the conduct of war, but they had one opinion in common: war is terrible.  But to say that war is terrible is not to say that all war is unjust or immoral. Whether a war is just and moral depends upon both its purposes and its conduct.  When a nation’s sovereignty, peace, and vital economic interests are threatened by armed aggression or invasion, it must destroy the aggressor’s will to persist or see its cherished heritage and the rights and welfare of its people crushed or subdued. It is the solemn duty of a nation’s leaders to assure the survival and prosperity of all that its people rightly hold dear. Peaceful intentions and talk are not enough to deter aggressors driven by imperialistic leaders or ideologies. History teaches us that peaceful nations must be prepared to defend themselves or be swallowed up by tyranny. 

The concept of just conduct and means in war recognizes primarily that a distinction must be made between combatants and non-combatants. Non-combatants should never be deliberate or primary targets of military action. Senseless terrorism,  cruelty, and wanton destruction are prohibited. Besides the lives and health of civilians, the destruction of civilian properties that provide food, shelter, and medical attention should especially be avoided. Just conduct in war demands that prisoners of war must be treated humanely and respectfully. Torture of prisoners of war or non-combatants is prohibited. Additionally, the use of force must not be disproportionate to objectives, threats, or harm done. As much as prudence and realism will allow, the enemy must be treated in good faith to keep open the possibility of reconciliation. 

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Corruption and Bad Judgment Since Late 2013

2010 Ukraine Election Map. Blue shades favored pro-Russian policies.
2010 Ukraine Election Map. Blue shades favored pro-Russian policies.

On September 23, 2020, U.S. Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, released a report that revealed millions of dollars in questionable financial transactions between Hunter Biden and his associates and foreign individuals, including the wife of the former mayor of Moscow and individuals with ties to the Chinese Communist Party, as well as his highly paid consulting in Ukraine. Of particular concern is the conflict of interests arising from Hunter Biden accepting a position on the board of, and taking millions of dollars from, Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company with a long-standing reputation for corruption, while his father, Joe Biden, was vice president and the public face of the Obama administration’s handling of Ukraine policy. 

Below are the first two paragraphs of the Senate report’s executive summary.

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive