Ray Interviewed on Russia and Ukraine

The Critical Hour (13 min.)
June 30, 2022

Ray’s article Thursday morning formed the backdrop, as interviewer Wilmer Leon began with its introductory paragraphs:

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Incongruity was the hallmark of the extraordinary NATO summit just concluded in Madrid. NATO offered bluster and promised muster: more troops against its “most significant and direct threat ,” Russia. Meanwhile, Russian “cauldron” maneuvers in Donbas methodically destroyed or enveloped major units of Kyiv’s army, further strengthening Russia’s position there.

Those of realistic and compassionate bent can but harbor hope that, before there is only a cadaver of Ukraine left to defend, Kyiv sees the handwriting on the wall and cries Uncle, despite what the Ukrainians are hearing from an Uncle Sam. He seems to have a remarkable tolerance for carnage – in Ukraine.

As for NATO bluster … part of the U.S. muster of troops is destined for Poland, where the US is establishing a permanent headquarters.

Polish President Andrzej Duda claims “Russia is a threat for all of NATO” … and that multiplying NATO’s “Rapid Reaction Force” will make Europe “safer”.

A serious claim that Russia wants to attack Poland or any other NATO member should be accompanied by evidence. No one can be permitted to employ the recently coined “Giuliani Dictum:” ‘Lots of Theories, But No Evidence’.

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As John Mearsheimer has pointed out, there is zero evidence that Russia plans to attack a NATO country.

‘Grim’ is the Word – at Least for Ukrainians

Turning to the latest from U.S. intelligence, I included some detail from a Reuters report Wednesday quoting National Intelligence Director Avril Haines. She told a Commerce Department conference: (a) The war will grind on “for an extended period of time; (b) “The picture remains pretty grim and Russia’s attitude toward the West is hardening.”

The Reuters journalists made bold to suggest that Haines’ comments mean that the billions of dollars in modern arms being supplied by the United States and other countries to Zelinskiy’s forces may not give them the ability to turn the tide against Russia any time soon.

By now, that much should be abundantly clear; the only real news here is that some Establishment media are beginning to concede it. And yet the mutually affirming lemmings of NATO continue to say send those arms anyway. And Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, et al. rejoice.

What Worries Moscow the Most

I closed the interview addressing what I believe bothers Putin the most. Culling from my antiwar.com article Thursday morning, I cited what Putin had said a few days earlier; namely, that Russia planned to send nuclear-capable missiles to Belarus within months.

Putin made that promise in a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. “We will transfer to Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their conventional and nuclear versions,” Putin said, according to Russia’s state-owned Tass news agency. “It’s a deal.”

Watch the choreographed tête-à-tête between Putin and Lukashenko – and ponder the implications.

Former Russian president Dimitry Medvedev also recently threatened to move Iskander hypersonic missiles “onto the threshold” of Russia’s Scandanavian and Baltic State neighbors.

Moscow’s approach on this issue mirror-images its acute concern over U.S. missile launch sites already emplaced in Romania, and almost complete in Poland, that can host offensive, nuclear-capable missiles threatening western Russia. Putin has worried aloud at having a mere 5 to 7 minutes warning time in such case.

Promises That Evaporate

The emplacement of what the Russians call “offensive strike missiles” in sites near Russia’s border is a glowing red line. For many years Putin has complained that so-called “ABM” sites in Romania and Poland can be converted overnight into launchers for “offensive strike missiles” — Tomahawk cruise missiles, for example, and, later, hypersonic ones.

A major concern, of course, is warning time; that is, the ever-shrinking minutes from the missile launch to target. Put yourself in Putin’s – or Biden’s – place, facing a decision as to whether, in effect, to end human life on planet earth.

After Putin spoke, at his urgent request, with President Biden by telephone on Dec. 30, 2021, the Kremlin readout included this:

“Joseph Biden emphasized … that Washington had no intention of deploying offensive strike weapons in Ukraine.”

No one challenged the accuracy of the Russian readout; that part of it was ignored in the West, but loudly rejoiced at in Moscow.

Does anyone know why/how that that key point made by Biden fell into the cracks? We are talking here about one president’s direct personal assurance to the other. The key role played by trust (or distrust) can hardly be exaggerated.

This short video clip from 2015 provides a sense of how frustrated Putin has been, in trying to get people (in this case Western journalists) to put themselves in his shoes. I invite you to click on the two-and-a-half minute segment from minute 10:20 to 12:55.

Ukraine War: How it ends

By John Mearsheimer (8-min youtube)

 00:00 | Ukraine War – How does it end – Professor John Mearsheimer!

01:12 | Is arming the Ukrainians a good thing?

02:30 | Who is responsible for the Ukraine war?

03:20 | Why didn’t Russia stop NATO expansions?

04:04 | Could Trump presidency have prevented war?

05:58 | Make Ukraine neutral and end the war?

06:43 | Should Russia return conquered Ukrainian cities?

Medvedev/Putin: Highly Unusual Threats to NATO

(Now ‘30 Blind Mice’ About to Become 32)
Interview with The Critical Hour, June 28, 2022

As NATO leaders (aka ‘The 30 Blind Mice) started their summit meeting yesterday in Brussels, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threw down a seemingly gratuitous gauntlet. Medevdev warned: “Any attempt to encroach on Crimea is a declaration of war on our country.” And that if such an attempt were made by a NATO country, “This is a conflict with the entire North American Alliance. Third World War. Total catastrophe.”

I checked the original Russian; the English translation (verbatim) is accurate. For those who read Russian, here is the original:

«Любая попытка посягнуть на Крым – это объявление войны нашей стране, – напомнил политик. – И если это делает страна, входящая в НАТО, это конфликт со всем Североатлантическим альянсом. Третья мировая война. Тотальная катастрофа»

“For us, Crimea is a part of Russia. And that means forever. Any attempt to encroach on Crimea is a declaration of war against our country,” Medvedev told a regional news site, as quoted in Reuters.

“And if this is done by a NATO member-state, this means conflict with the entire North Atlantic alliance; a World War Three. A complete catastrophe,” he warned.

In the same comments, [[ See: https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/medvedev-says-crimea-russias-forever-any-nato-moves-it-would-trigger-ww3 ]] and just ahead of this week’s NATO summit in Madrid, Spain kicking off, the former president of Russia addressed Finland and Sweden’s recent applications to join the Western military alliance, saying that Russia would take immediate action to strengthen its Western border and would be “ready for retaliatory steps” if they were admitted.

He floated the possibility of positioning Iskander hypersonic missiles “on their threshold” – speaking of Scandinavian neighbors and the Baltic states. He further suggested a troop build-up, as well as fresh naval assets deployed near Finland in that scenario.

Additionally, he wrote on Telegram in a series of statements: … “If Sweden and Finland join NATO, the length of the alliance’s land border with Russia will more than double. Naturally, it will be necessary to strengthen these borders.”

That’s when he again emphasized that Finnish membership in NATO would only cascade into creating a nuclear standoff in the Baltic region for the first time:

“If this is the case, there can no longer be talk about the Baltic’s non-nuclear status – the balance must be restored,” he stated.

“Until today, Russia has not taken such measures, nor was it going to do so. If we are forced to, then ‘note, it wasn’t us who suggested this,’ as a character in a famous old movie said,” he added.

“The US is broadcasting its ‘Welcome!’ [sign] to the representatives of Northern Europe literally in every way possible. Just humbly knock – and we will let you in. And what does this mean? This means that Russia will have more official adversaries,” he pointed out further, according to TASS.

He said Moscow will act “without emotions, and with a cool head,” and described: “The number of countries in NATO – thirty or thirty-two – on the whole is not really important to us. Two more, two less, with their importance and population there is no big difference.”

Medvedev concluded the statements by appealing to the ‘common sense’ of the Western public and policy makers: “Nobody in their right mind wants higher prices and taxes, mounting tension along the borders, Iskanders, hypersonic weapons or ships with nukes a stone’s throw from their house. Let’s hope that the common sense of our neighbors eventually prevails. Yet if not, then, as they say, “they started it,” he said.

We may in due course learn if any specific act by NATO members brought that unusual warning from Medvedev. The NATO summit continues today and Thursday.

Meanwhile, no doubt as advance warning to the 30 Blind Mice now in Madrid, Putin said Saturday Russia planned to send nuclear-capable missiles to Belarus within months, signaling a boldness as it made gains in Ukraine’s eastern regions.

Putin made the promise in a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has publicly supported Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. “We will transfer to Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their conventional and nuclear versions,” he said, according to Russia’s state-owned Tass news agency. “It’s a deal.”

https://news.yahoo.com/spiraling-putin-chooses-chaos-nuclear-151538677.html

Watch the choreographed tete-a-tete between Putin and Lukashenko — and shudder:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgqJMNlOKio

I have not had time to scour the corporate media; has anyone seen any Western reporting on this?

John Mearsheimer on Ukraine: Excerpts/PART TWO

In PART ONE we selected excerpts from the first half of John Mearsheimer’s June 16 speech. (We found it difficult to cut ANY of it); same goes for PART TWO, but we stuck to our attempt to make the highlights digestible for busy readers. If you time to read the full text, it is posted at: https://nationalinterest.org/feature/causes-and-consequences-ukraine-crisis-203182 

… or, better still, watch it on the Youtube version, which includes an instructive Q and A. (And let’s hope Professor Mearsheimer will be allowed to speak on the North American continent sometime soon.)

From:

The Causes and Consequences of the Ukraine War

A lecture by John J. Mearsheimer, R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor in the Political Science, University of Chicago.

Given at The Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies

June 16, 2022

Selected Excerpts: (PART TWO)

… the Western response to the events of 2014 was to double down on the existing strategy and draw Ukraine even closer to NATO. The alliance began training the Ukrainian military in 2014, averaging 10,000 trained troops annually over the next eight years. In December 2017, the Trump administration decided to provide Kyiv with “defensive weapons.” Other NATO countries soon got into the act, shipping even more weapons to Ukraine.

Ukraine’s military also began participating in joint military exercises with NATO forces. In July 2021, Kyiv and Washington co-hosted Operation Sea Breeze, a naval exercise in the Black Sea that included navies from 31 countries and was directly aimed at Russia. Two months later in September 2021, the Ukrainian army led Rapid Trident 21, which the U.S. Army described as an “annual exercise designed to enhance interoperability among allied and partner nations, to demonstrate units are poised and ready to respond to any crisis.” NATO’s effort to arm and train Ukraine’s military explains in good part why it has fared so well against Russian forces in the ongoing war. As a headline in The Wall Street Journal put it, “The Secret of Ukraine’s Military Success: Years of NATO Training.” …

President Biden, who moved into the White House in January 2021, had long been committed to bringing Ukraine into NATO and was also super-hawkish toward Russia. Unsurprisingly, on June 14, 2021, NATO issued the following communiqué at its annual summit in Brussels:

“We reiterate the decision made at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Ukraine will become a member of the Alliance with the Membership Action Plan (MAP) as an integral part of the process; we reaffirm all elements of that decision, as well as subsequent decisions, including that each partner will be judged on its own merits. We stand firm in our support for Ukraine’s right to decide its own future and foreign policy course free from outside interference.”…

In short, there is little doubt that starting in early 2021 Ukraine began moving rapidly toward joining NATO. Even so, some supporters of this policy argue that Moscow should not have been concerned, because “NATO is a defensive alliance and poses no threat to Russia.” But that is not how Putin and other Russian leaders think about NATO and it is what they think that matters. There is no question that Ukraine joining NATO remained the “brightest of red lines” for Moscow. …

Putin made numerous public statements during this period that left no doubt that he viewed NATO expansion into Ukraine as an existential threat. Speaking to the Defense Ministry Board on December 21, 2021, he stated: “what they are doing, or trying or planning to do in Ukraine, is not happening thousands of kilometers away from our national border. It is on the doorstep of our house. They must understand that we simply have nowhere further to retreat to. … He then made it clear that he recognized that Ukraine was becoming a de facto member of NATO. The United States and its allies, he said, “continue to pump the current Kiev authorities full of modern types of weapons.” He went on to say that if this was not stopped, Moscow “would be left with an ‘anti-Russia’ armed to the teeth. This is totally unacceptable.”…

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the point succinctly at a press conference on January 14, 2022, when he said, “the key to everything is the guarantee that NATO will not expand eastward.”

Nevertheless, the efforts of Lavrov and Putin to get the United States and its allies to abandon their efforts to make Ukraine a Western bulwark on Russia’s border failed completely. Secretary of State Antony Blinken responded to Russia’s mid-December demands by simply saying, “There is no change. There will be no change.” Putin then launched an invasion of Ukraine to eliminate the threat he saw from NATO.

So, what are the prospects for negotiating a peace agreement and ending the war in the next few months? I am sorry to say that I see no way this war ends anytime soon, a view shared by prominent policymakers like General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the JCS, and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. The main reason for my pessimism is that both Russia and the United States are deeply committed to winning the war and it is impossible to fashion an agreement where both sides win. …

To be more specific, the key to a settlement from Russia’s perspective is making Ukraine a neutral state, ending the prospect of integrating Kyiv into the West. But that outcome is unacceptable to the Biden administration and a large portion of the American foreign policy establishment, because it would represent a victory for Russia. …

Let me now turn to the matter of escalation. It is widely accepted among international relations scholars that there is a powerful tendency for protracted wars to escalate. Over time, other countries can get dragged into the fight and the level of violence is likely to increase. The potential for this happening in the Ukraine war is real. There is a danger that the United States and its NATO allies will get dragged into the fighting, which they have been able to avoid up to this point, even though they are already waging a proxy war against Russia. There is also the possibility that nuclear weapons might be used in Ukraine and that might even lead to a nuclear exchange between Russia and the United States. The underlying reason these outcomes might be realized is that the stakes are so high for both sides, and thus neither can afford to lose.

As I have emphasized, Putin and his lieutenants believe that Ukraine joining the West is an existential threat to Russia that must be eliminated. In practical terms, that means Russia must win its war in Ukraine. Defeat is unacceptable. The Biden administration, on the other hand, has stressed that its goal is not only to decisively defeat Russia in Ukraine, but also to use sanctions to inflict massive damage on the Russian economy. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has emphasized that the West’s goal is to weaken Russia to the point where it could not invade Ukraine again. In effect, the Biden administration is committed to knocking Russia out of the ranks of the great powers. At the same time, President Biden himself has called Russia’s war in Ukraine a “genocide” and charged Putin with being a “war criminal” who should face a “war crimes trial” after the war. Such rhetoric hardly lends itself to negotiating an end to the war. After all, how do you negotiate with a genocidal state? …

Obviously, both sides cannot win. Moreover, there is a serious possibility that one side will begin to lose badly. If American policy succeeds and the Russians are losing to the Ukrainians on the battlefield, Putin might turn to nuclear weapons to rescue the situation. … There is a perverse paradox at play here: the more successful the United States and its allies are at achieving their goals, the more likely it is that the war will turn nuclear. …

Some will say there is a silver lining: relations among countries in the West have markedly improved because of the Ukraine war. That is true for the moment, but there are deep fissures below the surface, and they are bound to reassert themselves over time. For example, relations between the countries of eastern and western Europe are likely to deteriorate as the war drags on, because their interests and perspectives on the conflict are not the same.

Conclusion

Simply put, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is a colossal disaster;…the United States and its allies are mainly responsible for this train wreck. The April 2008 decision to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO was destined to lead to conflict with Russia. The Bush administration was the principal architect of that fateful choice, but the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations have doubled down on that policy at every turn and America’s allies have dutifully followed Washington’s lead. Even though Russian leaders made it perfectly clear that bringing Ukraine into NATO would be crossing “the brightest of red lines,” if the United States refused to accommodate Russia’s deepest security concerns and instead moved relentlessly to make Ukraine a Western bulwark on Russia’s border.

The tragic truth is that if the West had not pursued NATO expansion into Ukraine, it is unlikely there would be a war in Ukraine today and Crimea would still be part of Ukraine. In essence, Washington played the central role in leading Ukraine down the path to destruction. History will judge the United States and its allies harshly for their remarkably foolish policy on Ukraine.

John Mearsheimer Spreads Some Truth on Ukraine

We now have text of the video posted at https://raymcgovern.com/2022/06/20/john-mearsheimer-there-he-goes-again-correctly-blaming-ukraine-carnage-on-white-house-obtuseness-the-lily-white-west/

The text is worth reading in full; it is long, though. So we provide excerpts below; finally stopped about half-way through; reserve the right to provide more later.

The Causes and Consequences of the Ukraine War

A lecture by John J. Mearsheimer, R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor in the Political Science, University of Chicago.

Given at The Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies
June 16, 2022
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qciVozNtCDM&t=647s

In this lecture, Prof. Mearsheimer will aim to focus on both the origins of the war in Ukraine and some of its most important consequences. He will argue that the crisis is largely the result of the West’s efforts to turn Ukraine into a Western bulwark on Russia’s border. Russian leaders viewed that outcome as an existential threat that had to be thwarted. While Vladimir Putin is certainly responsible for invading Ukraine and for Russia’s conduct in the war, Prof. Mearsheimer states that he does not believe he is an expansionist bent on creating a greater Russia. Regarding the war’s consequences, the greatest danger is that the war will go on for months if not years, and that either NATO will get directly involved in the fighting or nuclear weapons will be used — or both. Furthermore, enormous damage has already been inflicted on Ukraine. A prolonged war is likely to wreak even more devastation on Ukraine.

Below are excerpts (full text is at: https://nationalinterest.org/feature/causes-and-consequences-ukraine-crisis-203182

The war in Ukraine is a multi-dimensional disaster, which is likely to get much worse in the foreseeable future. When a war is successful, little attention is paid to its causes, but when the outcome is disastrous, understanding how it happened becomes paramount. People want to know: how did we get into this terrible situation? …

Given that the United States and its NATO allies played a crucial role in the events that led to the Ukraine war—and are now playing a central role in the conduct of that war—it is appropriate to evaluate the West’s responsibility for this calamity. …

My central claim is that the United States has pushed forward policies toward Ukraine that Putin and other Russian leaders see as an existential threat, a point they have made repeatedly for many years. Specifically, I am talking about America’s obsession with bringing Ukraine into NATO and making it a Western bulwark on Russia’s border. The Biden administration was unwilling to eliminate that threat through diplomacy and indeed in 2021 recommitted the United States to bringing Ukraine into NATO. Putin responded by invading Ukraine on February 24th of this year. …

The Biden administration has reacted to the outbreak of war by doubling down against Russia. Washington and its Western allies are committed to decisively defeating Russia in Ukraine and employing comprehensive sanctions to greatly weaken Russian power. The United States is not seriously interested in finding a diplomatic solution to the war, which means the war is likely to drag on for months if not years. In the process, Ukraine, which has already suffered grievously, is going to experience even greater harm. In essence, the United States is helping lead Ukraine down the primrose path. Furthermore, there is a danger that the war will escalate, as NATO might get dragged into the fighting and nuclear weapons might be used. We are living in perilous times. …

To make the case that Putin was bent on conquering all of Ukraine and incorporating it into Russia, it is necessary to provide evidence that first, he thought it was a desirable goal, that second, he thought it was a feasible goal, and third, he intended to pursue that goal. There is no evidence in the public record that Putin was contemplating, much less intending to put an end to Ukraine as an independent state and make it part of greater Russia when he sent his troops into Ukraine on February 24th. …

Perhaps the best indicator that Putin is not bent on conquering and absorbing Ukraine is the military strategy Moscow has employed from the start of the campaign. The Russian military did not attempt to conquer all of Ukraine. That would have required a classic blitzkrieg strategy that aimed at quickly overrunning all of Ukraine with armored forces supported by tactical airpower. That strategy was not feasible, however, because there were only 190,000 soldiers in Russia’s invading army, which is far too small a force to vanquish and occupy Ukraine, which is not only the largest country between the Atlantic Ocean and Russia, but also has a population over 40 million. Unsurprisingly, the Russians pursued a limited aims strategy, which focused on either capturing or threatening Kiev and conquering a large swath of territory in eastern and southern Ukraine. In short, Russia did not have the capability to subdue all of Ukraine, much less conquer other countries in eastern Europe. …

The taproot of the crisis is the American-led effort to make Ukraine a Western bulwark on Russia’s borders. That strategy has three prongs: integrating Ukraine into the EU, turning Ukraine into a pro-Western liberal democracy, and most importantly, incorporating Ukraine into NATO. The strategy was set in motion at NATO’s annual summit in Bucharest in April 2008, when the alliance announced that Ukraine and Georgia “will become members.” Russian leaders responded immediately with outrage, making it clear that they saw this decision as an existential threat, and they had no intention of letting either country join NATO. According to a respected Russian journalist, Putin “flew into a rage,” and warned that “if Ukraine joins NATO, it will do so without Crimea and the eastern regions. It will simply fall apart.” …

Indeed, at the Bucharest Summit, both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy opposed moving forward on NATO membership for Ukraine because they understood it would alarm and anger Russia. Merkel recently explained her opposition: “I was very sure … that Putin is not going to just let that happen. From his perspective, that would be a declaration of war.”…

Unsurprisingly, the American-led effort to integrate Georgia into NATO resulted in a war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008—four months after the Bucharest summit. Nevertheless, the United States and its allies continued moving forward with their plans to make Ukraine a Western bastion on Russia’s borders. These efforts eventually sparked a major crisis in February 2014, after a US-supported uprising caused Ukraine’s pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych to flee the country. He was replaced by pro-American Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. In response, Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine and helped fuel a civil war between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian government in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

END of this (first) selection of excerpts.

UNMARKING yesterday’s International Day in Support of Torture Victims

(a telling commentary by UN Rapporteur for Torture two years ago)
https://www.antiwar.com/blog/2020/06/26/un-reporting-on-torture-of-assange-banned-from-corporate-media/

UN Reporting on Torture of Assange Banned from Corporate Media: Marking International Day in Support of Torture Victims

by Ray McGovern Posted on June 26, 2020

Nils Melzer, UN Rapporteur on Torture, belatedly learned that Julian Assange was being tortured.  Meltzer came to realize that he had been misled by the “news” about Assange in the Establishment media, so he did his own investigation.

With his findings and impressions in hand, Melzer thought that June 26, the International Day in Support of Torture Victims, would be a fitting occasion to publish an op-ed on the results of his investigation.  It turned out that his draft was as welcome as the proverbial skunk at a picnic.  Here is a note that Melzer appended to his op-ed once it was finally posted – in Medium:

“This Op-Ed has been offered for publication to the Guardian, The Times, the Financial Times, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian, the Canberra Times, the Telegraph, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and Newsweek. None responded positively.”

The title given his op-ed in Medium on June 26, 2019 was Demasking the Torture of Julian Assange: On the occasion of the International Day in Support of Torture Victims.

See also:
https://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2021/07/08/assange-to-be-moved-around-sine-die/

and
htttps://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2022/04/25/bogus-charge-of-rape-did-in-julian-assange/

Having Enemies

By Erica Lloyd, Seekers Church,
Church of the Saviour
from Inward/Outward/Together, June 25, 2022

Most of us will admit that there are parts of the Bible we skip over – all the “begats,” particularly dry parts of Leviticus, the confusing imagery of Revelation. But I pay pretty close attention to the gospels, which is why it was surprising that this brief vignette at the beginning of today’s passage* was totally unfamiliar – I can’t recall a single sermon about Jesus scolding James and John because they want to rain fire down from heaven on the inhospitable Samaritans.

It’s one of those passages that we just skip right over because… well, why? Because James and John seem almost silly in their disproportionate lust for vengeance? Because surely good Christians know this is not the way to treat your enemies?

But these reasons probably wouldn’t hold up if I could read this story with a genuine understanding of the enmity between Samaritans and Jews, if I could feel it in my body the way I do things that enrage me: white supremacists with their guns, billionaires playing fast and loose with our democracy, politicians who insist on letting people suffer and die. While I’ve never suggested firebombing anyone, I certainly had complicated feelings about certain leaders contracting COVID. If I’m honest, the desire for revenge is not at all foreign to me; it frequently simmers right under the surface. Recently at Seekers, a few folks wondered aloud whether they would assassinate Vladimir Putin if they had the chance. It was honest and uncomfortable and, like most uncomfortable conversations in polite company, ended quickly.

We don’t know how to talk about our enemies; it’s strange and disconcerting to even use the word. I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I work my way through Melissa Florer-Bixler’s How to Have an Enemy: Righteous Anger and the Work of Peace. Florer-Bixler argues that we must learn to properly identify and name our enemies in order to rightly go about the work of loving them. Like James and John, we need to air our hostility so that Jesus can help us think rightly about it. As Florer-Bixler says, “…my prayers of wrath, seething with demands for punishment and revenge, revealed that my own incoherent and blistering rage would do nothing to set me and others down in the renewed order of God’s creation.”

Our anger and enmity can point us towards the world we are longing for, towards the one who promises to make all things new – but only if we are brave enough to face them.

*Luke 9:51-54
… he set out for Jerusalem and sent messengers ahead. They entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him, but they did not receive him. When James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” He turned and rebuked them.

The Court on Roe: Not all Catholics Agree: Far From It

By Ray McGovern, June 24, 2022

I customarily write on national security matters. This, actually, is one, and it matters.

I had two seminal exposures to Catholic teaching: one in the 50s and one in the 80s. I am grateful that in 1986, when I earned a Certificate in Theological Studies at Georgetown, educated Catholic theologians had been empowered to discuss abortion and what Jesus said about it (zero) in an honest, non-fundamentalist way. My professors – some of them just back from places like El Salvador, focused on things that Jesus DID talk about – like humility and justice (check out Matthew 5:1-12).

The Preferential Option for the Poor

THIS is what Jesus talked about – not things like abortion or homosexuality. The key tenet of most paying-attention Catholics is summed up in Catholic social teaching: the preferential option for the poor.  (Some wags have called Catholic social teaching the best kept secret of the Church.  The more reason to bring it up in today’s context!)

In 1986, the U.S. Catholic bishops issued a formal statement on the economy, calling for a fundamental “option for the poor.” I shall quote just one sentence: “The more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others.”

Yes, U.S. Catholic bishops issuing a solemn call for the redistribution of wealth.  A radical idea, indeed (in the original sense of radical — rooted in the core of Abrahamic faith). Another way to express this is that no one is entitled to accumulate still more of what they don’t need, while others are deprived of the necessities of live.

If that sounds downright un-American, that’s because it is. The biblical approach to “justice” does not square with the American concept of justice. No blindfolded “even-handed” lady here; rather, one who looks for the poor and gives them preference. I tried to spell this out on New Year’s Day, 2020, in “Biblical Justice: It’s Not What You Think”

So today the question is how does the Supreme Court decision on abortion square with the biblical insight into the core of justice? Whom will it affect most?

Christian Theologians on Abortion

Truth be told, the Supreme Court’s approach does not square with most Catholic theologians either. (Sorry, most bishops are pastors and administrators and not professional theologians.)  One theologian and professor of moral philosophy from whom I’ve learned a lot is Daniel C. Maguire. Here are excerpts from a Letter to Editor that he got published by The New York Times on June 29, 2007. (Adult content: discretion advised.)

Re “On Abortion”…

… Saints Augustine and Thomas Aquinas both favored legalization of prostitution even though they thought prostitution evil. Their thinking was that “greater evils” would result if prostitution were banned and this outlet for aberrant sexuality energy were unavailable.

In so doing, St. Thomas Aquinas said, the “wise legislator” is imitating God who, though all powerful and supremely good, tolerates certain evils lest greater evils ensue.

Similarly, today’s legislators who think abortion immoral could vote to keep it legal since greater evils, multiple deaths of women (especially poor women) from botched abortions as seen before Roe v. Wade, would follow.

Daniel C. Maguire
Milwaukee, June 25, 2007
The writer is professor of moral theology at Marquette University
https://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/29/opinion/l29giuliani.html

Maguire Would Not Be Silenced

… in pursuit of Catholic honesty ( from: https://www.religion-online.org/article/a-question-of-catholic-honesty/ )

…Feminist scholars have documented the long record of men’s efforts to control the sexuality and reproductivity of women. Laws showcase our biases….

After all, canon law excommunicates a person for aborting a fertilized egg, but not for killing a baby after birth. One senses here an agenda other than the simple concern for life. What obsessions are operating?

A person could push the nuclear button and blow the ozone lid off the earth or assassinate the president (but not the pope) without being excommunicated. But aborting a five-week-old precerebrate, prepersonal fetus would excommunicate him or her.

May we uncritically allow such an embarrassing position to posture us as “prolife”? …

Additional Reading

https://consortiumnews.com/2011/10/26/vatican-decries-financial-excesses/