This question has wider implications, of course. Here is the link to a YouTube video of a competitive archer, Steven Hann, who also runs an archery store, discussing Russia and the Ukraine. So an archer from the Ukraine voice the opinion that Russian archers should not be allowed to compete. Many people agreed with her. But Hann thinks that we should not blame the Russian people for the decision of their leader, Putin.
This brings up the wider issue of how the rest of the world reacts to an unjust war. Clearly, Russia had no grave reason for this invasion and war. And directly targeting civilians in war is always gravely immoral. But we must also take into account that Putin is more of a dictator than an elected representative of the people. He is not acting at the will of the Russian people, but at his own will. So we should not blame the Russian people in general, nor should we try to harm them.
But I think the reaction is wrong of trying to harm the entire nation of Russia, especially economically. This could cause grave harm to innocent persons in that nation, who have nothing to do with the war. It could cause some persons to lose their jobs. It is causing problems with the economy that make each person’s income to be worth substantially less. Some persons may go hungry, or be unable to afford things they need.
Now in the last part of the video, starting here, Hann discusses a similar reaction during World War 2, when Japanese persons in Australia (where he lives) [and we know this also happened in the U.S.] were sent to Internment Camps, just for being Japanese. Hann discloses that persons of German descent, who were born in Australia and did not support Germany during WW2, including his own grandparents, lost their jobs merely because they were of German descent.
What will happen during the next World War, if as we’ve previously discussed, certain Muslim nations attack Europe? Will the U.S. send Muslims to internment camps, as we did with the Japanese during WW2? We absolutely must not do so, as it is gravely immoral. Treat others as you would have them treat you. But the way people are reacting to Russia and the Ukraine tends strongly in that direction, so I worry that persons from certain nationalities or religion might be persecuted or subject to interment during the next world war.
Will persons of Russian descent in this nation be persecuted because of the War in Ukraine? Are they being treated badly even now? We must not blame the people for the actions of their leaders.
Ronald L Conte Jr
I submitted this comment a half day ago, but apparently it didn’t process so I’m resending.
It’s my thinking that Putin causes MUCH greater harm to innocent persons in the countries he attacks, slaughters into submission, and conquers, with the Ukraine being just his latest, than any harm new sanctions on Russia will ever cause Russians. All the things you cite that ‘could’ happen to Russians – the loss of jobs, incomes, homes, food, etc. are what Ukrainians are experiencing right now as the Russian army advances slowly destroying them. It’s widely believed among intelligence experts that Putin is on a quest to rebuild the former Russian empire. To that end, he’s stockpiled an enormous cache of nuclear weapons to keep the rest of the world at bay, so the only way to ‘safely’ stop him is to force a regime change from within. Hence, as many crippling sanctions as the world can throw at Russia until Russia itself initiates a course correction. The power to alleviate all the hardships that sanctions inflict on them is in their hands. The plan Biden and the rest of the world have devised to stop Putin once and for all is the best possible alternative.
Your comment is immoral. It is sinful. It proposes evaluating the ethics of acts based only on intentions and circumstances. Intrinsically evil acts, such as directly causing harm to innocent persons is not justified by the outcome. That is not “the best possible alternative”. Don’t post comments like that on my blog again. Also, learn Catholic ethics.
I don’t understand your explanation. Putin was selected by Russians to represent and lead their country. He has chosen to kill innocent civilians, intentionally attacking residential areas (Schools, apartment buildings, etc.). Is your article suggesting that causing economic distress to the country of Russia is not a moral choice as part of an effort to non-militarily quell the loss of life and home of Ukrainians? Even many who have not died are now refugees in other countries, and have surely lost their jobs and in some cases their homes. Isn’t it better to take these steps as opposed to two other choices of either letting Putin continue to decimate Ukraine or to respond militarily? Those two responses will most definitely cause a higher loss of life, jobs, and civilians homes. Dialogue has not worked. Part of my family has come from Ukraine, and have heard of so many tragedies that have already occurred (Which most of which have not made the news), beyond just death (which is enough to warrant an economic response). The Ukrainian economy is now decimated from an unprovoked Russian attack.
“Isn’t it better?” is a reference to consequences in the circumstances of the act. We must first evaluate whether a proposed act is intrinsically evil. The attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were intrinsically evil because they targeted innocent civilians. We cannot justify those attacks by saying that the nation of Japan attacked us and we were attacking the nation. The same thing applies to economic sanctions against individuals, companies, and any groups of persons who are not government leaders or government entities involved in the war.
Ron thank you for clarifying this as I struggled to understand. I had to read it a few times honestly to recognize that punishing 144,000,000 innocent people in Russia through economic devastation is evil, as they aren’t part of the invasion and didn’t make the decision to do so.
I always believed the unfortunate citizens whom are killed or incarcerated during a war is a horrific event. I have for many years wondered about the ethics of such events and I still do not feel comfortable one way or the other. Since, I cannot come to a conclusion, I wonder if is there any room for doubt. I believe the Almighty God, our Father could not perform an intrinsically evil act. That being said, God killed all the first born in Egypt. I am not comparing God to evil persons but it does give me pause on the ethics of such events.
If human persons were to kill all the first born of Egypt, as God did, they would be guilty of intrinsically evil acts of murder. But since God is the author of life, He gives life and He takes it away, without these acts being evil. All Creation belongs to God, and so He can take life without it being evil.
James, I am concerned that in the next world war, the same type of situation will occur again, where the government wishes to intern persons based on their nationality or religion, due to the war. But it doesn’t seem like our government (on either side of the aisle) or our society has yet developed the wisdom to make any decision in that regard out of a mature conscience. Overall, I think it is best to be more compassionate, with some risks, rather than choose the apparently safer course (internment), knowing that the vast majority of those interned are innocent persons who gave no cause for that detainment. We must not treat the innocent like the guilty.
Thanks for your response and I agree with your statements. I too am concerned about the next world war and what will happen to those individuals based upon their nationality and/or religion. My dilemma is being more compassionate and assuming some risks. I truly believe – I would not have this dilemma if we were in the non-nuclear years (pre-world war 2). I worry about the evil persons whom are not detained using nuclear dirty bombs and killing scores of thousands of innocent people. It is an awful quagmire and I hope all governments make their decisions where the outcome is compassionate and the risks are error-free.