On the other hand, if you subject yourself to the “expert” testimony served up by your evening news crew—if you “mask up” again for them—then it is likely that soon enough you will be denouncing voices of dissent such as that of The Remnant as “unamerican” and reprehensible for exhibiting “callous disregard for the Ukrainian people”. I know this because I lived through it once before, twenty years ago when The Remnant lost thousands of subscribers for not going along with the insufferable neocon, George W. Bush, and his preemptive strike on Iraq, through which he and his hawkish friends – i.e., Cheney, Rumsfeld, Kristol, Frum and the rest – made the world “safe for democracy” by destabilizing the entire Middle East.
Most of the "conservatives" who were beating the war drums twenty years ago have since “seen the light” on that debacle, but I beg you not to let history repeat itself now. Do not believe any of what the insufferable talking heads on TV tell you about Russia and the Ukraine here in 2022. They know we all grew up watching Cold War movies and they think they can yank us along with this insanity again now. Prove them wrong! Do your own research. And perhaps let Mr. Werner’s article be the catalyst for the independent thought so desperately needed right now. If cooler heads don’t prevail, Team Biden will plunge this country into World War III…only this time the USA will not win, which may be the point of the entire exercise. MJM
“Never Go to War over an East European Cause”
- Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, 200 years ago
Let me unravel the muddled thinking of Francis Xavier Maier who in a piece today that he wrote for “The Catholic Thing” declared it would be obscene “if Ukrainians ignored the memory of Russian criminality in their country for the sake of a dubious peace.” Maier implies but does not declare that the U.S. should provide Ukraine military aid; and he chides various conservative voices on the American right who caution restraint in this regard.
Maier leads off most of his paragraphs with misstatements of fact. He misreads history. He bears an animus towards Russia that Russia does not deserve.
With support and planning by our CIA and our State Department; with the support of the Obama administration, and with tax-payer dollars, policy wonks in DC went on to cheer the bloody urban warfare in downtown Kiev.
He writes about “eight years of war initiated by Russia.” He seems not to know that the United States initiated the conflict by organizing, funding and encouraging a bloody coup in Kiev in 2014, with the aim of ousting the popularly elected President Viktor Yanukovich, who favored cooperation with Russia in various areas.
With support and planning by our CIA and our State Department; with the support of the Obama administration, and with tax-payer dollars, policy wonks in DC went on to cheer the bloody urban warfare in downtown Kiev near the Maidan Nezolezhnosti public square. I have peacefully traversed that square by foot hundreds of times in the last few decades during my extensive travels through the Ukraine and Russia as president of a Catholic mission association and relief fund.
You will not understand the truth about Russia and Ukraine unless you go back to 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed, and they created a new country called Ukraine. Before 1991 Ukraine was an administrative province, territory or district of the U.S.S.R. since shortly after the 1917 Revolution. [Ukraine became nominally independent in 1918, after the Treaty of Brest Litovsk, but was conquered by the Soviets in 1922] Before that, the eastern half of the Ukraine had been the western most European region of Czarist Russia, with her historic mother city Kiev sitting on the right bank of the River Dnepr surrounded with golden onion domes perched atop several Russian Orthodox monasteries nestled in the forested hills tumbling down to the river.
The citizens of Donetsk and Lugansk have always spoken Russian. They did not ask to join the new country of Ukraine when new borders were arbitrarily drawn following the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Did you know they teach all Russian children that Kiev is the mother city of Russia? In about 988 AD prince Volodymyr accepted the Catholic Faith, received Baptism and entered the Church. His countrymen followed him into the Greek Catholic Church of the Byzantine Empire, many years before the schism of 1054. In subsequent centuries the Faith spread to the heart of Russia.
You might have read in your history books that many Russians fought valiantly against the Red Communist army in the several years immediately following the Communist Revolution of 1917. The White Russian army commanded by General Denikin and the heroic General Pyotr Wrangel fought valiantly to defeat the Red Army in the years 1918-1920.
Most of those battles took place precisely in the region just east and north of the Sea of Azov. They also fought in the Crimea. Those battles took place in and around the lands of the so-called “break-away” oblasts. The sons of Donetsk and Lugansk spilt their blood to save Russia from the Communists in those years.
Russia bears no animosity towards the Ukraine... The Russian army has not crossed the border to engage in armed conflict. Our government and our media seem to want you to think Russia has acted aggressively.
The citizens of Donetsk and Lugansk have always spoken Russian. They are Russian, in their language, in their songs, in their lineage, in their literature and in their hearts. They did not ask to join the new country of Ukraine when new borders were arbitrarily drawn following the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Over the last four centuries several European empires have subjected Ukrainian soil to their rule. Not only the Russian Empire ruled this territory. The Austro-Hungarian empire once enclosed most of western Ukraine within its borders. The Polish-Lithuanian kingdom once ruled over most of the Ukraine and most of central Europe. Inside the borders of the Ukraine, you find not only Ukrainians, but also Romanians, Moldovans, Ruthenians, Tatars, Poles, Hungarians, Slovaks, Belarussians, Cossacks, and of course Russians, who naturally live near the lengthy eastern border with Russia. These groups don’t always see eye to eye.
Ukrainians trace their roots to Prince Danilo’s small kingdom of Galicia on the eastern banks of the Carpathian Mountains, founded in the 13th Century following the invasion of Genghis Khan’s Mongols who had plundered and burned Kiev in 1242. Today’s Ukraine dwarfs the kingdom of Galicia. But for the vicissitudes of history; they might have named our subject county Southern Poland, or Greater Galicia, or Western Russia. As we have it, they named it the Ukraine, which literally means “the borderland” (in the Russian tongue).
The U.S. and the EU had been planning and hoping to bring the Ukraine into the EU and into NATO.
Next, Maier throws a red herring into the stew. Stalin and the Communist party plotted the death by hunger for millions (Holodomor) in 1933 in Ukraine. It was not a crime committed by Russia against the Ukraine. The Russia of 2022 bears no guilt for the crimes committed by the Soviet Union ninety years ago. Today’s Russia bears no animosity towards the Ukraine. Instead, they fear the U.S. and NATO who have been encircling Russia with U.S. financed military bases in most of the former countries of the Warsaw Pact and the former Soviet Union. NATO has doubled in size since 1991. And all those missiles and armaments in the new countries in NATO point towards Russia. Of all the large countries bordering Russia along its western and southern flanks, only Belarus and the Ukraine remain outside NATO.
Contrary to Maier’s assertions, Russia has not waged war in these two most eastern oblasts of Ukraine. Instead, the Ukraine sent its army east to Donetsk and Lugansk to stop those oblasts from seceding from the country, much like Abraham Lincoln’s armies invaded our southern states to prevent their secession. The Russian army has not crossed the border to engage in armed conflict. Our government and our media seem to want you to think Russia has acted aggressively. On the contrary she has shown the greatest restraint.
Does Mr. Maier know how much hatred for Russia burns in the hearts of so many misguided souls in Ukraine? Recall how in May 2014 a gang of thugs (reportedly neo-Nazis) forced forty Russians visiting Odessa for a football tournament to seek refuge in the Trade Unions Building. They barricaded them inside, set fire to the building, and killed all forty.
Maier conflates the Soviet Union of the 1930’s with the Russia of today. He wants his readers to reflect “on the savage Stalinist persecution of Ukrainian Catholics that took place in the name of Marxist Leninist progress.”
Residents of Donetsk and Lugansk don’t want to live in a country that treats Russians so. I can’t explain why hatred of Russia runs so high. Do they hold Russians culpable for the crimes of ancestors? I have witnessed the ugly faces of hatred in the Ukraine many times and places. I witnessed the 2004 Orange Revolution, also on Maidan Nezolezhnosti, when tens of thousands of western Ukrainians shut down the city with ugly tent camps in the city center. The magnanimous presidential election victor, Viktor Yanukovich, agreed to accede to the demands of the mob, and he allowed Viktor Yushchenko to assume the presidency.
After Yushchenko’s ineffective term expired, Yanukovich finally became president again, by popular vote. The troublemakers came again. This time they came with U.S. support, encouragement, logistics and money. Yanukovich barely escaped with his life. Burnt-out buildings lined the main street Khreshchatik.
The U.S. and the EU had been planning and hoping to bring the Ukraine into the EU and into NATO. The Russians living in Eastern Ukraine had seen enough, and they wanted out of the country. They wanted no part of the corrupt European Union and the western decadence it promised to bring. Nevertheless, some “smart” policy wonks in Washington think we should act to prevent the secession of those two easternmost oblasts—Donetsk and Lugansk. [Ukraine has twenty-five regions or oblasts]
Russia cannot countenance our adding Ukraine to the block of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—and the near certainty that we would thereafter install offensive nuclear weapons on the doorstep of Russia, weapons capable of reaching Moscow in just a few minutes.
Maier laments the “mutations of post-Soviet Russian imperialism” seemingly oblivious to the misguided American imperialist adventures around the world these past several decades that have left many more dead, wounded and refugees than anything you can lay at the doorstep of Russia since the Soviet Union disbanded. I’ll spare the reader the list of countries we have invaded or with whom we have meddled, as my ink cartridge now runs low.
Maier conflates the Soviet Union of the 1930’s with the Russia of today. He wants his readers to reflect “on the savage Stalinist persecution of Ukrainian Catholics that took place in the name of Marxist Leninist progress.” Maier wants his readers to look upon Russia as a land of monsters. He doesn’t know that Russia has become the most Christian of nations since Pope Pius XII consecrated her to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1952. He seemingly doesn’t know much about the people I have visited on 38 mission trips these past twenty-five years. They have built thousands of new Orthodox churches throughout Russia in recent years. They exhibit great piety and sober purpose in their lives. You won’t find more humble, generous, long-suffering people in any other country you might visit.
Putin and the Russians do not covet the oblasts of Lugansk and Donetsk as so many in our government and media imagine. Instead, Russia cannot countenance our adding Ukraine to the block of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—and the near certainty that we would thereafter install offensive nuclear weapons on the doorstep of Russia, weapons capable of reaching Moscow in just a few minutes.
Many Russians fought valiantly against the Red Communist army in the several years immediately following the Communist Revolution of 1917.
Russia stages her army along her lengthy border with Ukraine to send us the message that we may not try to add Ukraine to NATO without deadly serious consequences. Russia will act in her own best interest. Maier laments the traumatized veterans of the Ukrainian army. Why can’t he sympathize with the anxiety suffered by the Russians---brought about by the US and NATO who continue to encircle them with new military bases in the several new countries NATO adds every decade? I invite you to look at the map showing NATO encroachment upon Russia. The world should give thanks that Putin and Russia have shown such forbearance and restraint, up until now.
Never go to war over an Eastern European cause. You will not likely understand the people and their history. From your great geographic distance, you probably won’t have had the motive nor the opportunity to study and understand the issues that divide them. Where and how they draw their country’s borders does not vitally threaten your nation’s security. You will find your greatest security by turning to the mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the solicitous mother of her beloved Russian children, by praying her Rosary and trusting in her intercession to untie all knots.
Epilogue | 03/06/22
I wrote the article “Never go to War over an East European Cause” just before the Russian Army began marching into the Ukraine. Western governments and the corporate media seem stunned that Russia would do this. We should all along have expected this reaction by Russia, following a long string of provocations and threats we have directed to the Motherland of Russia. Moreover, we have for many years helped the Ukraine prosecute a war against innocent Russian speaking civilians in the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, along a lengthy border with Russia.
Russia would not have marched into Ukraine if we had kept our word in 1991, that we would not expand the NATO alliance. Instead, we broke our word and began converting most of the former Warsaw Pact nations into NATO signatories complete with offensive military bases practically encircling European Russia. We have doubled the size of NATO in the last three decades, with several of those countries bordering Russia. Russia wonders why she deserves this provocation by its encirclement by NATO weapons platforms, their armor poised to pounce upon Moscow. Why do we make Russia our enemy? Who can answer that?
Russia would not have marched into Ukraine if we had only just promised them that we would not convert their historic motherland (Kiev and Eastern Ukraine) into another NATO weapons platform—threatening mother Russia. The US and NATO very recently refused to grant Russia their assurance that Little Russia (the Ukraine) would not next gain NATO membership.
Russia would not have marched into Ukraine if the American government had not organized, funded, and cheered on the bloody coup of 2014 when we drove from power the popular president Viktor Yanukovich, because he favored closer ties with Russia. This infuriated the U.S. State Department and the CIA. We executed a bloody coup that threw Ukraine into turmoil. The oblasts of Donetsk and Lugansk decided to secede from Ukraine, aghast at what chaos American interventionism and meddling had caused within the borders of their country.
Following the bloody 2014 coup centered at the Maidan Nezolezhnosti square in down-town Kiev, the country descended into an abyss of angry factions of Neo-Nazi’s and ardent Ukrainian nationalists. Rather than following the path of peaceful cooperation among Slavic Orthodox brothers, favored by ousted president Yanukovich, Ukraine and its corrupt government became a willing pawn in the US scheme for achieving global hegemony.
Russia might not have marched into Ukraine if the U.S. hadn’t supported and assisted the Kiev regime to make war with Donetsk and Lugansk, supplying the Ukrainian military with weapons to prosecute that war.
The US put its stamp of approval on all the foregoing evil. Russia had no complicity with any of it. Not everyone in Ukraine laments the coming of the Russian Army into their land. But you won’t learn that on our nightly news broadcasts.
-- A. Matt Werner received his B.S.F.S from Georgetown School of Foreign Service in 1978 and a Juris Doctorate from Catholic University School of Law in 1981. He was Judge Advocate USAF in NATO from 1982 through 1987.
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