McCain above his own law?

Apparently the campaign that’s calling us “socialists” and “communists” wants Russian money for itself?!  So much for the McCain-Feingold “maverick” Repug!

BTW, it shows what kind of people they are when they put down as socialism and communism, what many of us consider basic Christianity!

NATO expansion, Polish Missiles, bad ideas

  1. Must we crowd Russia, the largest country in the world, still a “nuculer” power, with Westerners still trying to control it and take advantage of it just like in the 17-1800s?  At least during the Cold War the West was considered to be counterbalanced by the Communist world….
  2. Remember high school history?  It’s a commonplace that one of the things that made World War 1 possible was that day’s military alliances, almost like the war, or the size it became, was an accident.  The alliances were too cute by half, as we Irish say.  Today, will expanding NATO eastward entangle the West in the petty ethnic nationalisms of Russia and its neighbors, like Georgia and Ukraine and the Baltics?  Will we end up with WW3 yet?!!!

I’m Orthodox Christian and demand America get over its Eastern-European blindspot.  Remember that Orthodox Christians, Eastern Catholics, even eastern Latin Catholics, Muslims, etc., never had a Reformation or Enlightenment, and Modernity was forced on them by Communism (from the West, if you remember!).  Rightly or wrongly, ethnicity or tribe or blood or nation (in the old sense) or father- / motherland, even religion, still mean to them what they meant to the West many generations ago.

I’m not saying to let Russia have its way with its neighbors carte blanche, nor vice-versa.  But it’s incredibly provocative and foolhardy to tie ourselves to troubles there by Treaty, “the highest law of the land.”  It’s bad enough we have Presidents who go to war without a State of War declared by the lawful authority, Congress.  But in NATO “an attack against one is an attack against all / us”!!!  (Though it’s laughable that WE are the only power to ever activate the North Atlantic Treaty, after 9/11, when we weren’t even attacked by a country.  What are we, Luxembourg?)  Our first national interest is peace and security; this is increasingly not being served by our post-Cold-War policies.  Unless our real “interest” is Russian conquest and Liberalization and Protestantization, Americanization, Westernization, corporatization, Snickerizatsiya.

We need to respect Russia.  We need to return to diplomacy, public but also discreet.  (Not just “expecting” and shaming and pushing leaders around publicly.)  We need competent, non-ideological experts and advisers about parts of the world we’re unfamiliar with … including a depoliticized Intelligence function – “independent,” like the independent judiciary – taken seriously and not just used for partisan, ideological, or corporate purposes.  (How about an semi-independent Intelligence Czar like the independent Comptroller General / GAO?)  We need Congressional equality, assertiveness, oversight, and expertise.  We need to stop insisting that other countries or civilizations or religions become just like us / ours; we need to accept difference in others.*  Pluralism, what a concept!

Anyway, who agreed to turn a military alliance into one pushing certain forms of government or economics or religion, or a World Police Force (ie, European / American Police Force!)???

(*–Ironically, the Bible itself and scholars say the sin of Sodom wasn’t homosexuality, but the gang-rape of strangers, like the angels in the Genesis account: “rape as public policy” as I heard one scholar call it.  Supposedly the idea was to make the unfamiliar visitor ‘familiar’ and ‘like us.’  Bush “sodomizes” Putin, Kim Jong Il, Saddam, Ahmadinejad…!)

Brits prepping WW3 over S. Ossetia, Abkhazia, recognition?

Sounds like it from Her Majesty’s UK Foreign Secretary.  Hopefully HM will think better of it, like this more experienced and knowledgeable military commander suggests.  Makes one wonder about the wisdom of politicians making military decisions on their own….

Orthodox vision of human rights?

Last week the quadrennial Council of all Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church from throughout the world promulgated a statement, The Basic Principles of the Russian Church Teaching on Human Dignity, Freedom and Rights, discussed here by Interfax’ religion service.  It’s been a topic of discussion and continuing work since the release of the year 2000 Council’s The Basis* of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as of course ongoing human rights criticism of Russia, Serbia, and some other Orthodox and neighboring countries, the spread of the U.S./NATO/EU eastward into the former Warsaw Pact and the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Western-backed ‘color revolutions’ in Georgia, Ukraine, and threatening in Belarus and Mongolia, as well as notable contradictions in Western human rights and election practices itself.  It doesn’t seem available on the Web in English yet, but Interfax emphasizes its confrontation with what some Russians, using a term echoing the “militant atheism” reference to Communism, are now calling “militant secularism”:

According to the authors of the Orthodox vision of human rights released Thursday, “blasphemy shall not be justified by the rights of artist, writer or journalist.” Under the pretence of human rights protection, civilizations “should not impose their lifestyle patterns on other civilization{s}” and the human rights protection “should not {be used cynically to} serve interests of certain countries.”

The right to education provides for gaining knowledge with a view to cultural traditions and visions of a family and a person. Most world {cultures} are based on religion, therefore, any comprehensive education and upbringing should include the basics of religion which created the culture where such person lives,” the Basics read.

The document also states that private life, vision and people’s will should not be subject to “total control”. “Manipulation of people’s conscience and choice by government agencies, political powers, economic and information elites is dangerous for the society. It is also unacceptable to collect, concentrate and use information on any aspects of person’s life without his/her consent,” the Basics’ authors believe.  {Corrections, emphases, and clarifications Tiernan’s.}

Of course, most Russians living today well remember the abuses alluded to in the last paragraph!  I can’t endorse it without seeing it in detail, but I commend its reading, at least, to all of us who seek to deal rightly with Eastern Europe, the Orthodox World, and ultimately the whole Two-Thirds World.

(*–Sometimes translated as Bases, the plural of Basis.)

Russian Heiress hopes for Monarchy

Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, considered by many to be Head of the Romanov Imperial Family and heiress to the Russian Throne, gave an interview the other day that was not at all the Western stereotype / propaganda of “Tsarism”!

By all means, I believe in the future of monarchy in Russia, or rather, I want to believe that the values of this system will be understood and valued by Russians again…. {Today} people still feel the weight of the hundred year’s long antimonarchist propaganda. It takes time for the people to understand that the monarchy is a progressive and up-to-date system which combines the best experience of a centuries-long history of Russia and modern reality…. And we do not intend to get involved in any political struggle, we only would like to be helpful to this country…. It is too bad that they pay no attention to efficient democratic monarchy systems in Europe. If their republican views concern Russia only, that means they consider Russia as a second rate country.

Wikipedia profiles Her Imperial Highness, and here’s her official website.  HIH’s remarks remind me of the attitude of Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia, and even the renewed public service of deposed King Symeon II of Bulgaria, recently Prime Minister of his country and still serving in the government.

Time/Putin, ‘the rest of the story’

With apologies to Paul Harvey, this commenter on another blog offers useful counterpoint to the Bu’ushist propaganda we’re getting on Russian President Vladimir Putin from Time Magazine and other sources official and (supposedly) unofficial.  Prior commitments delay any analysis I may contribute here myself on Time’s “Person of the Year” edition.

By way of preview (maybe), I don’t wanna channel Samuel Huntington here, but Russia IS different from the Catholic (Latin) and Protestant West, the Rationalized Capitalist West, the earlier-industrialized – and longer-suffering therefrom – West, the Classical Liberal West, etc. … and many Russians like the difference overall!  You know what Russians have always called contiguous land to their west?: EUROPE!  Now, (Western) geologists consider the ethnic heartland of Russia part of the continent of Europe, but Russians have always been conscious of a difference, Westernizing influences of such Western “heroes” as Peter and Catherine “the Great” – equally “Autocrats” with Ivan the Stern (whom the West never fails to call “Terrible”), Nicholas II, and everyone else in-between – notwithstanding.  But seemingly even “neocons” think a little autocracy, pogrom, persecution, purge, repression, national betrayal, apostasy, anti-democracy, etc., in pursuit of Westernization – or at least pro-Americanism – is AOK – just like in newly-Democratic Iraq, newly-Democratic Palestine, newly-Democratic Afghanistan, Democratic Kenya, “Liberalizing” China, the “Republic” of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, formerly-dictatorial Taiwan and South Korea and the Philippines and South Vietnam and Nicaragua and Panama and Argentina and Chile and Brazil and so on and so on and so on.

If there’s no objectivity involved in such allegedly professional analysis, let’s not pretend, but be up-front about our biases, OK?  But then aren’t you playing into the hands of the “post-modernists” who say there’s no objective truth?!!

One thing Russia does have, as they’re reminding us to their chagrin, is Orthodox Christianity, which isn’t afraid of objective truth, unlike their hardline Catholicism and Protestantism and “militant secularism.”  Their own Orthodox heritage, that of the West, generally ended around 1,000 years ago, just as Russia’s began in earnest.  And many of their ancestors hadn’t been Christian long enough to be Orthodox more than a fraction of the time most Russians have been.

I will say this for now: Orthodoxy’s role in a country is no more to stand up for Westernization / Americanism – what they sometimes call Snickerization (Russ. snickerizatsiya, similar to other cultures’ Disneyfication, etc.) – than for anything else other than The Truth, The Faith, The Common Good as they, limited human beings, see it, experientially guided by the All-Holy Spirit of God, One of the Trinity.  And many Russians have had quite enough of Western innovations – the Filioque, Papal supremacy, Uniatism, philosophizing, high-falutin intelligentsia of the West’s left OR right, Marxism, industrial slavery, Communism (aka “militant atheism”), the constant threat of American nuclear annihilation known as the (First) Cold War, Rationalized Capitalism, “militant secularism,” the current Second Cold War(?), etc etc etc.

Maybe I really am starting to become Orthodox, because I read Putin quotes and know what he’s talking about or hinting at, when it’s clear over their heads!  Maybe they should consult Orthodox when covering or analyzing Orthodox countries, cultures, histories, leaders, persons … and The Church itself of course!!!

Why Canada’s Different, and Getting More Different

This quote I found here is related to that book a little while back on this topic:

While America was founded on the idea of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Canada’s constitution is dedicated to “peace, order, and good government,” a decidedly less individualistic, more community-minded stance, which explains Canada’s predisposition for “balancing individual autonomy with a sense of collective responsibility,” according to Adams.

The rampant individualism found in the US comes at the expense of security and stability. “[I]n an instant, illness, crime, or an injudicious investment portfolio can turn the proverbial American Dream into an outright nightmare,” Adams writes in “Who Are the Real Masters of Docility?,” an essay found on theglobalist.com.  As a result, “an ever greater proportion of America is clinging to old institutions — family, church, state … even gangs — as anchors in an increasingly chaotic world.”  Americans are seeking stability in traditional authorities: “a strong police force, a strong military, a strong nation, the President and Commander-in-Chief.”  Ironically, then, in this land of the free, people are afraid to explore new perspectives, new ways of living.

And from the article to which the above is a sidebar:

Sure, {Canada}’s a capitalist country and there’s competition, but it’s less ferocious, less cutthroatTrue, if rankings of Gross Domestic Product are any measure, the US is richer than Canada.  But Canada has a higher quality of life.

This isn’t in the first place Canada-worship on my part, but Classical Conservatism, aka progressive conservatism, aka Red Toryism, aka reason not ideology, pragmatism not experimentation (‘American pragmatism’? Hah!), the Common Good of everybody – all of us – not just MEMEME.

And Time magazine complains about Russia under Putin?!  Worry about real nascent(?) Fascism here!