No Small Potatoes

kerry potato 1Let the chips fall where they may. The potato chips, that is. Secretary Kerry presented Mr. Putin with a basket full of tomatoes and a basket full of potatoes during what appears to be some efforts at thawing relationships between our countries. As he held up two gigantic examples of American tubers, likely genetically modified, one can only wonder what words came out.

“”How about these potatoes? These are only two. Two examples of what the US will be glad to export by the billions if you will just get out of Ukraine and let us save face.”

“Or how about, “Two dic-taters walked into a bar . . . .”

No, I won’t make any joke about seeing three large potato heads on display. Whoops, I just did. While it looked silly, perhaps it wasn’t silly after all, but a wise way to diffuse the seriousness of the situation.

The war-hawks in DC are likely besides themselves with fury. Doesn’t Obama’s administration understand that Russia its the greatest evil in the world and this is going to turn into another failed effort at appeasement as the Russian Empire does to the world what Hitler did? Or something like that.

Who can know if it’s just more intrigue? This is the same US that was only recently pushing Russia to the point of nuclear threats—willing to risk all out global nuclear destruction over the government the US installed in Ukraine. If we could just be flies on the wall int the government palaces in Europe and the US.

We’ll never know the real motivations, but when politicians talk, something foul is usually leaving their hearts. For now, I’ll take it as a chance that we might just actually move the minute hand of the nuclear destruction clock back from midnight, where it has been headed at breakneck speed. Another Cuban missile crisis avoided. Another good thing for the world as a whole.

Regardless of what someone thinks about Russia or the need to face them with aggression, we are dealing with a nuclear-armed nation. A nation that, go ahead and flame me, deserves the lion’s share of the credit for breaking the back of Hitler and the Third Reich. The Soviets destroyed or disabled over 600 Axis divisions. And suffered 11,000,000 casualties. That’s not to lessen the role of other nations. Simply to point out the enormous cost in humans lives that Russians paid, in comparison, and to accurately report their national resolve to fight back when pushed. We aren’t dealing with a light-weight with Russia. Or in terms of Mr. Putin, the Russian’s Russian. They and he are not going to roll over as we expect smaller nations to do when we impose sanctions or threaten military action.

What confuses me is the position of war-hawks who increasingly promote making war now instead of waiting for war to happen, which they believe is inevitable. So since there will always be wars, aggressive war becomes OK. Attacking another nation is OK, as long as it is done to prevent that nation from attacking you later. As though we have prophetic abilities and do not need to answer to a God, who never takes war so lightly. As though the same leaders who can’t secure our borders, keep people from jumping the White House fence and making it to the 2nd floor toilet of the White House, or win a war since 1945, are somehow suddenly capable of taking on Russia.

Let’s get the killing done now, or so goes the logic. In the end, we’re all toast so lets plug that toaster in and get it over with. When did a worldwide nuclear conflict become a wise and prudent move? When did war become peace and not an alternative? When did we become such wimps?

Such things happen when men feel inadequate. When they lack actual courage. Not unlike the classic bully. That role is played by national leaders who have no experience in real war and have exaggerated beliefs of power and exceptionalism. Those among the citizenry who are always up for war play the role of little guy that stands behind the bully, saying, “Yeah, what he said!,” knowing that when it comes to fighting they won’t have to engage. They’ll live out their puny courage vicariously by standing behind and cheering on the USMC and the SEALs and the snipers. Just watch on cable TV and slap yellow ribbons on their cars. Wimpish men who never do their own leading or fighting when the bullets start flying. They never pay the real cost of war. Just label as traitor anyone who dares doubt that war is the right answer, regardless of the question.

Rational sensibility is never the way of powerful leaders. Turning around and saying, “Maybe we were wrong to push things” doesn’t come naturally to those who lead the most powerful nation on earth at the time. True repentance comes naturally for no man. So we can only wonder. I have to wonder if all the prayers that are being lifted up have moved the heart of God to bring wise rule back to our nation. Prayers for return to the time when this nation was more characterized by independence and self-determination, avoiding foreign conflict, and relating to the world through commerce and trade and the exchange of ideas. Living out the Golden Rule; treating others as you wish to be treated yourself.

Somewhere along the way many American Christians developed the ability to mouth the Golden Rule but not really support its application on more than a limited personal level. Good for dealing with my neighbor. Great for inscribing on those decorative plaques you can buy at Christian book stores. Nice to tell children. Splendid from the pulpit. But not good for our rulers in dealing with other nations. Because they fear it won’t work. That we will suffer more in the end for following it. But God never said to follow the his Law because it works out for us in the way we desire. He tells us to obey because it is his Law. It is holy. Hedging our bets isn’t an option he provides.

Either God’s Law is the Law or it isn’t. If it applies, it always applies. Such understanding is what underlies the Doctrine of Just War, something we misplaced sometime during the 20th Century. That wars aren’t waged unless there is no other resort. Because God is to be feared. Thinking we can know that Russia will wipe out our nation if we don’t wipe them out first is pretty heady thinking. Grandiose and delusional. Sociopathic.

For now I’m going to enjoy the hope for something better. Hope that the Prince of Peace might be starting to rise in the heart of our President or whoever is calling the shots. In the heart of Mr. Putin. In the hearts of all of us.

 

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