Christian responses to US Politics

Discussion in 'The Commons' started by Tiffy, Mar 26, 2020.

  1. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I agree completely with the latter part of your post. Ukraine is not a vital US interest, nor are we obligated by NATO treaty to defend them. The sanctions against Russia are indeed problematic and a mistake.

    But don't forget, Russia and Ukraine were wrangling all through the Trump presidency. Look at what Russia did to Ukraine while Obama was in office, and look at what they've done while Biden is in office, and compare that to the little or nothing they did militarily during Trump's tenure. Just coincidence? I think not. Trump knew how to influence other world leaders; he was respected as a strong leader on the world stage, one who (the others felt) would not hesitate to use military force, yet he did it mostly through a combination of posturing, tough talk, diplomacy, and exemplary quick action (such as the takeout of an Iranian military leader who'd ordered lethal actions against US citizens in Iraq). Trump maintained peace by projecting an image of strength and decisiveness, with just enough wild unpredictability, to keep Kim and others in check. Under Biden, Kim and Putin and Xi are running the chessboard while Biden sluggishly reacts & overreacts. (Calling the leader of a major nuclear power a "war criminal" and a monster who cannot be allowed to remain in office? And when the WH walked his reckless, diplomacy-wrecking rhetoric back, Biden refuted them and said he wasn't taking any of it back. The arrogant idiot!) The specter of WWIII never loomed so near as it does under Biden's feckless "leadership."
     
  2. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I would say that Biden has handled some aspects of the situation well and other aspects poorly. That’s tended to be true of most presidents who have faced a new foreign policy situation. Hindsight is 20/20. Based on Trump’s actual documented behavior while he was president, I have no doubt that if he had won the election instead of Biden, he would today be saying and doing whatever he thought would please Putin and avoid saying and doing whatever he thought would displease him. That was his established pattern throughout his term in office, and his recent statements supporting Putin and Russia as a private citizen amply support that contention. I don’t want to rehash 2020 all over again. Debate is something that is done before a decision is made, not after. Given his extensive (and growing) legal troubles, and his unpopularity, it’s far from obvious at this point that Trump will actually run in 2024. Part of me hopes he does just so we can watch him lose again, but the greater part me would love it even more if we actually had more than one serious candidate and we never had to talk about Trump and his steady stream of buffoonery again. I understand that many feel the same way about Biden. Biden has always had a tendency to put his foot in his mouth and say things publicly that he shouldn’t. I don’t think this holds a candle to how his predecessor handled himself in office, but I do understand the criticism, even if I don’t necessarily agree with it. In any case, what would be great is if we had at least one major political party in this country that actually represented the working class, and if we could have candidates that are far younger than either Trump or Biden. All this Trump vs. Biden stuff 1 1/2 years later is the wrong conversation.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2022
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  3. ZachT

    ZachT Well-Known Member

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    Well the Cuban Missile Crisis might have words to say on that.

    Otherwise though I feel liberated to be able to throw stones from the otherside of the Pacific and criticise Biden without fear of anyone thinking that makes me a Trump supporter. His foreign policy decisions, first in Afghanistan and then in the month leading into the Ukraine invasion have been embarrassingly incompetent for an executive team that prided itself on being more capable than the supposedly inept Trump Family White House. It's hard to know if some different disaster happens under Trump, but I'm somewhat convinced the disasters under Biden are worse realisations than what we could expect under Trump term 2.

    I think Biden has handled the post invasion crisis reasonably well. Sure, he goes a good deal harder than he ought, especially in rhetoric - and it's plainly obvious he's doing it because that's what gets him bumps in the opinion polls not because he thinks that's actually the best way to get Putin to step off. But overall strong sanctions are better for the long term interests of peace than weak sanctions or no sanctions. This response is much harsher than Putin would have reasonably expected, and anyone else that considers war in the future, even decades into the future, will look to this response and have to reassess their cost-benefit analysis.
     
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  4. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I think the job has aged Biden, not that he started young. I suspect a Trump Family White House would have had a deeper understanding of the Putin perspective, and in all honesty I do not think that would have been good for Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy or for his people.
     
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  5. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    One of the most significant near misses since the Cuban Missile Crisis (in terms of a potential nuclear exchange) was Operation Able Archer in 1983. We've also had several close calls since the Soviet Union collapsed.

    One issue with sanctions is that at least some of them are arguably acts of war on their own, particularly attempts to prevent Russia from servicing its own debt. Another is that they punish the Russian people, who didn't ask for this invasion. And another is that they will almost certainly be unsustainable: we have a global energy shortage and Russia is the #1 supplier.
     
  6. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    So keep on buying the drugs off him, even if the pedler is a murderer, you don't want his kids to starve? :laugh:
    .
     
  7. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    What I’m saying is, if it’s worth committing acts of war over, then go all the way. If it’s not, then remain neutral. What we’ve been seeing is an unsustainable attempt to have it both ways.
     
  8. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Even though, 'all the way', straight off, against a diseased crazed psychopath, could land us all in a nuclear holocaust inadvertently? Maybe it's not wise to throw in all your trumps at the start of the hand. Although maybe that wasn't what I was meaning to say. About Trumps, I mean. :laugh:
    .
     
  9. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Let me be clear, I have no desire to see American troops on the ground in Ukraine. The halfway approach that has been taken so far - technically committing acts of aggression without a formal declaration - is how countries blunder their way into wars that they initially had no intention of fighting, yet find next to impossible from which to extricate themselves. The U.S. in particular has done this over and over again - including both world wars - at incredibly high cost, and yet we never seem to learn the core lesson of those experiences. One therefore wonders if the root of the problem is actually institutional rather than political.

    That being said, I do not think it is accurate to say that Putin is either "crazed" or a "psychopath." His pattern - and this is true of dictatorial regimes generally - has actually been one of risk aversion. What can make such regimes dangerous is not their appetite for risk but rather the lack of realism on the part of their leadership. The last time that Russia waged a true conventional war against a comparable opponent was 1945, and the way their military has been trained ever since then has reinforced a style of thinking that is overly optimistic, is insufficiently cognizant of logistics, does not devolve operational decision-making downward, and does not adequately anticipate contingencies. It is important that we allow a way for the conflict to end peacefully. Insisting on 'regime change' in Russia not only will prolong the conflict but may cause its scope to widen, with the concomitant human suffering that such conflicts inevitably bring.
     
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  10. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    This is a significant challenge. Putin does not care what the world thinks, his concern is about what Russians think. All rulers, including despots and dictators rule with the support or permission or aquesance of the people. It did not matter what the world thought of DJT, it only mattered what Americans thought.

    I think we can be certain that support ofthe Ukrainian invasion is not universal in Russia. What we don't know is how much popular support there is in Russia for the invasion of Ukraine. I suspect that there will be more support than we imagine, and less support than Putin would like. That was why it was a good move on the part of Boris Johnson to speak directly to the Russian people. Russians are clearly not used to anything like what we would call democracy. And they certainly don't have anything like the 1st ammendment to the US Constitution to rely on. Brave Ukrainians will fight them back as best as they are able, yet I suspect it will take brave Russians to get Putin the the point where he will take his foot off the accelerator.
     
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  11. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Russians are long accustomed to not being consulted by their government when it comes to forcing them to make sacrifices as a result of decisions their leaders make. Popular support does eventually matter, but in Russia that process takes years. All things being equal, Putin's control over what information ordinary Russians are exposed to is such that he could declare victory at just about any point, regardless of what material conditions actually prevailed on the ground in Ukraine. He did not want Ukraine to join NATO and I think it's safe to say now that he's made his point. There are two things that would prevent him from acting on his initiative in his own best interest here:
    1. His own generals lying to him;
    2. Demands for "unconditional surrender" by his adversaries, i.e., the U.S.

    On the whole, the reported ratios of civilian deaths to Russian military casualties have been very lopsidedly tilted toward the latter, possible as high as 10:1. In typical armed conflicts that ratio approaches 3:1, which suggests that the Russian army on the whole is actually trying to avoid civilian casualties. We may find out later that those figures are wildly inaccurate, or we may not. Keeping that background in mind, it is important to emphasize that we do not yet know what exactly happened in Bucha, and it will be some time before we do. It's entirely possible some Russian soldiers committed war crimes there. If that's the case, they should be punished. But that's a charge that needs to be proven, because of presumption of innocence and all those other Western values that suddenly don't matter when it comes to countries we don't like. At this point, the wise course is to be extremely skeptical of pretty much everything both sides are saying. The calls for Putin to be tried for "war crimes" need to stop. Not because Putin is a good guy (he's not), and not because he had a legitimate casus belli (he didn't), but because such rhetoric, if taken with any seriousness, cuts off possible avenues for him to declare "mission accomplished" and move on, which is ultimately what we would like to see him do, since we've (rightly) ruled out direct intervention. Putin deciding unilaterally to stop the fighting is the only way this ends, so to artificially prolong it is not only counterproductive, it's also profoundly immoral. We've led the way in applying the punishment; we also need to lead the way in leaving the path open to a solution, however possible.
     
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  12. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I just realized this part may have been confusing. On average, a military conflict will entail approximately 3 civilians killed for every 1 combatant, or a 3:1 civilian casualty ratio. In the Russia-Ukraine war so far, there have been approximately 1 Ukrainian civilian killed for every 10 Russian soldiers, or a 1:10 ratio, at least according to the figures that have been made public so far. Assuming these figures are accurate (maybe they are, maybe they aren't), that is incredibly lopsided, and certainly makes it appear that the Russians are pursuing a strategy of avoiding civilian deaths at very high cost to their own soldiers. This casts the accusations regarding Bucha in a rather different light, and should raise additional questions about the narrative that has been peddled so far in the media. Obviously the Russians are not being forthcoming in their own public statements about it, but that doesn't mean the Ukrainian account is automatically trustworthy. I'm no apologist for either Russia or Ukraine, and I certainly don't know what happened in Bucha. What I do know is that most of our information is coming from the Ukrainians, and the notion that the Russians are intentionally avoiding killing civilians and that they're deliberately committing wholesale massacres of civilians (and leaving the evidence of it out in the open for all the world to see), cannot both be true.
     
  13. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Sadly of course too much of this conflict has been about who controls the narrative. In the west it seems that the narratove has been controlled by Zellenskyy, and he has done a Churchillian job of it. Putins efforts to control the narrative failed at the first hurdle, when he said he wouldn't, then he described it as a 'peacekeeping force' and now it is a specially millitary operation. He wants to recognise Ukrainian sovereignty, under a given set of copnstraints and preseciptions, which ultimately means as a puppet state rather than a Sovereign Nation. Sadly of course we can be certain that western media has by an large excused itself from any understaing of truth in anything but a relative perception.

    Ultimately the truth in these things will be found when you follow the money. I think that is what has led to the western attempt to fight tanks with sanctions. It may well be the right approach, however it is not quick. I think we need to find a way to communicate with the Russian people, for they must surely doubt a state run media. I think we need to explore means of communicating an alternative narrative, not propoganda, enabling the Russian people to for a view for themselves.
     
  14. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    A qualified 'Like' here. Because of the peculiar nature of this conflict, (undoubtedly actually a war), the ratio of civilian casualties to Russian military casualties may be unusually affected by the nature of the conflict.

    Russian troops expected that they would be welcomed but were duped before hand, into thinking that they would be liberators. For many weeks before hand they were convinced they were merely on exercises. These were not helpful preparations to face the situation they actually experienced. It is hardly surprising then that 'Little Ukraine' gave 'Big Bully' Russia a bloody nose in the playground and a 'Special Military Operation' becomes for Russian troops a 'Spectacular Military Disaster'.

    Very few of the initial Russian military objectives were actually achieved from day one onward, and they had to resort to bombardment of all the objectives where they encountered such unexpected resistance in overrunning. In those objectives that they actually took, they seem to have vented their wrath on the only enemy they could find, i.e. civilians, the old and children. The peculiar figures vis a vis Russian military vs civilian casualties are most likely the result of (1) Unpreparedness of Russian assault troops and their logistics support. (2) An unanticipatedly aggressive and unexpectedly effective resistance in the Ukranian response. (3) Russians being forced.(as they saw it), to use extensive bombardment of civillian targets instead of just being able to walk in and be 'welcomed'.
     
  15. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I think we can expect to see civilian casualty numbers climb. After all, Zelenskyy has been handing out weapons to the civilians and encouraging them to help fight the Russians. Adding relatively untrained civilians to the battle usually results in many civilian casualties.

    Someone is trotting around a video alleged to be of the Bucha scene, in which at least one "dead" person is seen getting up when he thinks the camera is no longer showing him. I have no idea if it's genuine. I did also see a video of alleged Ukrainian soldiers questioning alleged Russian soldiers who were wounded and lying on the ground; the one guy stepped on a captive's wound to elicit pain and encourage an answer to the questions of where his company was and how many there were. Toward the end the camera swings to 3 new captives who appear to have just been brought in, one of them allegedly asking if an officer was present, and they were shot (I think in their legs) and fell to the ground. Of course I don't speak the language so I could not verify if the English subtitles were truthful.
     
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  16. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Quite true. There were many own goal killings in the first battle of the American Civil War, because there were no uniforms issued, most were civillians with no military training and few could tell whose side the others bearing arms were on.
    If the video is intended to be convincing of what it appears to portray, what are the chances that its producers would have left such an obvious error which could identify it as 'faked'. Can we believe (a) it was made to convince idiots or (b) that it was made by idiots to try to convince inteligent viewers it's true, but fails or (c) It was mde to convince idiots that it was faked?
    My question would be:Who made the video. Who distributed the video and to what purpose. Is anyone making money out of all this video making and showing? What do the people who produce, distribute and promote them hope to gain by their activities?

    The first casualty in war is truth.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2022
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  17. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I agree. I’ve also heard that some of the photos weren’t even from Bucha. It’ll be a good while before we have anything like an objective account of what actually happened there and why.
     
  18. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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  19. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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  20. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I think it was more like this: an 'official' video was being made, but someone else had a cell phone and took their own video, so it was the unofficial video that captured the 'dead' people getting up after the 'official' camera was pointed elsewhere. But like I said, I have no basis to verify any of this.