27 July 2023


At Gardone, there was some discussion about International Law; and Warfare. I found myself wondering (and nobody seemed to know the answer) about Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

Here is what puzzled me. We in our Western Churches fortunately have a carefully-evolved, rational, inherited body of teaching about what is needed to constitute a war a 'Just War'. It goes back a long way and involves distinguished names.

But do the Byzantines? Do they have such a body of teaching of their own, or do they subscribe to the same fontes as ourselves ... or do they corporately subscribe to nothing at all in this particular ethical area?

Perhaps a factual answer would enable us to make a not-unfair judgment on President Putin's motivations and actions; and to understand the statements and attitudes of His All-Holiness the Patriarch of Moskow.

Might this (as Fr Jack of Craggie Island once put matters) be ultimately an Ecumenical Matter?


Arthur Gallagher said...

I do not see how Putin could have done anything other than invade The Ukraine, and still maintain any legitimacy, either personally, or in terms of Russia as a state.

The fighting did not begin last year, it had been going on for quite some time. In conducting operations, the Russians have been quite restrained, and are practically angels when compared to how we Americans conducted two wholly unjustified wars in Iraq, which produced untold destruction, massive casualties, including hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and endless social strife, division, religious persecution, and the rise of a loathsome Islamic resurgence across the nation. Nobody knows how many deaths happened in Iraq- and there was never a casus belli that could be articulated with a straight face.

Sadly, America squandered the peace dividend after the cold war, and continued to look for wars to fight and regimes to topple. This suits the NATO parasites just fine, because it keeps them competitive with a depleted United States. Meanwhile, endless NATO expansion drives Russia into the hands of China, a horrific prospect that we might not live long enough to regret.

The US toppled a validly elected and Pro-Russian Ukrainian government in order to install a servile puppet state, that does what America wants. Like the Mafia Enforcer telling a shop owner that he has a nice shop, and that it would be a shame if anything happened to it, Obama, and his delegate, then VP Biden, let Ukraine be taken by Russia without any opposition, and the Ukrainian government learned their lesson. Now they pay, and they pay an assortment of Biden's family members and a host of American operatives, and do as they are told. Which includes keeping the war going, while assorted Neo-Cons beat the tub for final Victory.
What, I wonder would that Victory require? Half a million dead? General war between NATO and Russia? Russian submission to China as the cost of survival? Or a massive land-grab by the Chinese at Russia's expense? It could certainly lead to America's terminal decline to being a broken de-industrialized has-been. Wars are the graveyard of empires.
What is this war about? Why can't it be negotiated? What historical claim to Crimea does Ukraine even have? (Hint: NONE) What exactly ARE the borders of ANY Eastern European country?
We Forced Russia into a war it did not want, and speak with hypocrisy about peace, while we block any attempt at a cease-fire. We call Putin a Killer, and ignore the way Obama droned hundreds of Arab families to death, just to get a single "suspect" That's right: We want to eliminate an alleged terrorist, so we take out the whole family, Grandma, Grampa, and everyone else from baby Youssef to Uncle Tanoose.

We should really be asking other questions, such as: Why does the UK support this insanity?

frjustin said...

Correction: I mistakenly assumed that Prof SÅ‚awomir Nowosad was an Orthodox scholar, but he is in fact a Roman Catholic priest and professor of theology at the Catholic University of Lublin, who has done annual research visits between 1991 and 2010 at the Oxford University Bodleian Library and Christ Church Library. His most impressive curriculum vitae (in English) is here:


His article referenced above is from Studia Oecumenica 16 (2016)p. 113–122

frjustin said...

The correction is to a post which seems to have disappeared. It referred to an essay by Prof Nowosad entitled "War – Just or Justifiable? A Christian Orthodox Perspective"

2_02_Nowosad.pdf available at

Abstract: While the Western tradition rather early developed a just war doctrine, the East took a different path. War has constantly been perceived as evil though in some circumstances necessary and hence justifiable (but strictly speaking neither “just” nor “good”). Both the Greek Fathers and later Eastern authors and Church figures, like Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, would develop their understanding of warfare as “irrational” and an obstacle on every Christian’s path to theosis.

Bibliography:Goodin D.K., Just-War Theory and Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Theological Perspective on the Doctrinal Legacy of Chrysostom and Constantine-Cyril,
“The Greek Orthodox Theological Review” 48 (2004) 3–4, p. 249–267.

Harakas S.S., No Just War in the Fathers (2005), www.incommunion.org (23.09.2016)

Harakas S.S., The Morality of War, in: J.J. Allen (ed.), Orthodox Synthesis: The
Unity of Theological Thought, Crestwood: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press 1981, p. 67–96.

LeMasters P., Orthodox Perspectives on Peace, War and Violence, “The Ecumenical Review” 63 (2011) 1, p. 54–61.

Stoyanov Y., Norms of War in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, in: V. Popovski, G.M. Reichberg, N. Turner (ed.), World Religions and Norms of War, Tokyo – New York – Paris: United Nations University Press 2009,p. 166–219.

Arthur Gallagher said...

The great theorist of war, Karl von Clausewitz, famously said that "war is the continuation of politics by other means". Why, then, when a negotiated peace is so readily attainable, do the NATO countries keep demanding an unobtainable "final victory"?
Such a stance serves nobody's national interests, except possibly China's, but it satiates a host of corrupt politicians, greedy defense contractors, and endless think-tank parasites,
whose expertise consists mainly in parlaying their paltry CVs into lucrative careers.

Especially annoying to me are the retired military officers who go on television and parrot nonsense that I know they do not believe.

All of this is a symptom of a corrupt society, that has become completely decadent, and is just another symptom of the materialism that pervades the West. Of a piece with the transgender agenda, exploitation of children, open borders, deficit spending and the welfare state.

coradcorloquitur said...

What Arthur Gallagher above has summarized is the undistilled truth. Shame to those who want to canonize the grifting criminal Zelensky.

Banshee said...

Given that various wonderworking icons, and indeed the True Cross, marched with the Byzantine Roman armies, clearly there is a presumption of just war in practice. But yes, it is worth looking into.