by Frank Muller
I will refer us to a previous missive on Neutrality (and its’ true meaning) and the corrosive effect of treaties upon the pursuit of the good.
Let us explore the impact of a Treaty upon the nations of Russia, Ukraine and the NATO alliance. The NATO Treaty formed an alliance of the US and Western European countries to contain the spread of communism and the military threat of the USSR. Article 3 of that Treaty makes an attack by a non-NATO member upon the sovereign territory of any NATO member an attack on all and thus an act of war that compels all members to join in this united act of war.
Sounds reasonable right? Well, in my view it is far from reasonable when examined closely. Let me articulate some considerations of this treaty specifically and treaties in general.
- This treaty makes an implicit (if not outright explicit) assumption that all NATO members will forever remain sovereign actors for the good. I could list numerous examples of behavior of each of the NATO members since its’ inception that casts doubt upon that assumption. For example, Turkey is a member of NATO but does that country act for the good? Hmmm…… Let us calmly examine the Turkish persecution of Kurd’s both within Turkey and in Iraq and Syria. They process a brutal campaign of intimidation, bombings, murder and other crimes outside of their own borders indeed. They acquire advanced Russian air defense systems in defiance of their membership in NATO and seek to play both sides against the other for personal advantage. Is that a partner willing the good of another?
- The point being is that no assumption can be made that all members of a treaty alliance will seek the good and in fact they may seek provocation in their own actions knowing that the Treaty contract brings the weight of the Alliance against their enemies. Imagine Turkey inciting through false flag operations Kurdish attacks on their country from Iraq and demanding NATO Article 3 enforcement?
- Treaties enable their members to off load their obligations to mutual defense to others in the name of personal prosperity and expediency. Imagine a NATO where the free Germans for the last 50 years met their personal and collective obligations to defense and to trading with only the good who seek to do free and fair trade under enforceable rules of law. I am reasonably confident that not only would Ukraine not be invaded but I confident instead it would be a free and prosperous country with the means to defend itself as well.
- Let us examine the behavior of a non-NATO country that the US and Europe do substantial business with – India. Do we realize that China and India both abstained from condemning Russia’s flagrant act of war? Is India really a partner for the good or are they like Turkey lukewarm opportunists exploiting both sides against the other for advantage? Would a Pacific treaty with such a partner be good for the US or Japan or Australia?
- Treaties will constrain the good. Take the current Ukraine situation and listen to the NATO alliance members citing the concern about Article 3. In effect, the NATO leaders are succumbing to the blackmail of the evil knowing that they individually have abdicated their ability to actually defend themselves as well. That is, they do not want (or individually are even able) to come to the defense of an innocent because it could cause a larger war that might in fact lose. Is not this course of moral rationalization an abdication under the guise of a contract a willing cooperation with moral evil? A treaty can either bind or loose the good. It is the binding of the good that enables evil, not the loosing of good.
- Countries in my view have a moral duty to defend themselves and countries that are pursuing the good should be defended by their common moral brothers and sisters without ever needing the binding of a treaty contract. Am I my brother’s keeper? The good answer strongly yes. The evil answer strongly no. The lukewarm seek to equivocate and thus the use of treaties. Let our answer be yes or no in the application of the good, at least that is true. The equivocator may be the worst form of appeaser.
- National Laws. The American Neutrality Acts of 1935, 1936, 1937, 1939 and 1940. First off, Neutrality does mean that one never chooses a side, this lukewarmness and equivocation is a moral evil. Neutrality means remaining free to choose the good. One does not need a treaty or a contract or a law to do the good. These national laws were a moral disgrace to our country and millions died because we and the good countries of France and the UK did not arm and prepare ourselves to come to the aid of the good.
- The neutrality acts referenced above prohibited by an Acts of Congress (with the signature of President Roosevelt) banned the shipment of munitions to belligerents. Imagine that no munitions to Ukraine now or Great Britain or France or Russia before World War 2. That is not neutrality, that is choosing to forego our brother’s fate in order to preserve our peace and quiet for the short term. So, the very same President who signed these laws began to systematically break every one of them by shipping to the belligerent’s weapons of war in defiance of American law and the Constitution.
- Why did President Roosevelt whom we venerate as a great President flagrantly violate the Constitution risking impeachment that would have easily been proved that he was committing high crimes and misdemeanors? He did so because despite signing the laws (for political expediency which is a lesser moral evil) he appropriately decided to ignore those laws because moral justice demanded it. To not come to the defense of the good against Nazism would have been an unforgivable moral evil and calamity to the world. It was only due to this aid that Great Britain survived. Had the Neutrality act been enforced it is absolutely certain Great Britain and all of Western Europe would have fallen to the Nazi’s and then the might of the German Empire would have been deployed against the Soviets and most likely they too would have fallen because it was American arms (that would not have been supplied) that supported them early in their War and they still almost lost.
- Martin Luther King, Gandi and so many others: MLK stood out in the light for all to see against immoral Jim Crow laws and suffered persecution, imprisonment and death for his act of defiance against an immoral law. Yet, there still persist people to this day who criticize MLK because of his personal sins (I wonder how many sins those accusers had Mr. Hoover?) Yet, history vindicates the man and his moral reasoning of defying immoral laws in defense of the good.
- President Roosevelt stood hidden in the dark in defiance of an immoral law “the neutrality acts” and saved billions from a fate of either Nazism or Communism. History vindicates that President despite his own personal failings. The point is that we should choose the good and remain free to do so. Love is free. Love is the choice of our own free will to will the good of another and that choice requires service and sacrifice – not just words and prayers.
So, let us in our own lives stand for the good in the light. If we sign a contract with another person and some unforeseen event occurs that is not covered in that contract – do the right thing. So many times, we get lawyers to inform us of what is legal and that is a good thing. But the better thing is to first ask what the right thing to do is and do it (whether it is legal or not). Yes, doing what is right is not easy and yes it can come with a heavy price. But should we choose the route of equivocation, parsing, legalese it is certain that future generations (our children and theirs) will suffer for our unwillingness to will the good of another.
Let me close with a fervent prayer. Though I am steadfast in supporting the good of another even if it means my own suffering or death or loss of reputation, I will strive (as a flawed and sinful man) to my last breath to pray for my adversary for we are both sinners. Let us pray for the soul of President Putin and the Russian people. Let us love our enemies whilst at the same time defending even unto death ourselves if need be and the enemy of the good if need be. It is this great and beautiful paradox of the Christian Faith that we can stand against evil and love and pray for the evil doer at the same time.
May Peace be with us all.