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…!)


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.)