Buy and store up food and other supplies!
First of all, I condemn unequivocally the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the war against Ukraine by Russia. Ukraine is a sovereign nations with the right to self-government. The war is intrinsically unjust. In addition, the reasonably anticipated consequences against innocent persons in the Ukraine as well as in Russia itself are grave, affect very many persons, and are obviously not outweighed by any goals that the war might have. Russia is causing grave harm to itself, to Ukraine, and to other nations, for no compelling reason.
Even so, the application of sanctions by the U.S., the E.U., and private corporations is adding to the harm to innocent persons in nations around the world.
Effects of Sanctions.
1. Harm to the innocent civilians in Russia.
These are the sanctions and their results: Loss of a much trade with the West, sanctions on banks (SWIFT) and denial of credit card use outside the nation (MC, VISA, Amex), refusal of many corporations to continue doing business with or in Russia, consequent disruptions of agriculture and food, reasonably anticipated sharp increase in prices, freezing of foreign currency overseas held by Russian individuals as well as Russian banks, and more. These restrictions, especially the financial restrictions, will make it difficult to buy or import ANY goods, even those not under sanction, such as food and medicine, because there is no way to pay for it.
Further results: loss of many jobs as buying decreases and companies shut down in Russia; disruptions in the food supply in Russia, as imported foods are lost at least due to the inability to pay, and as joblessness increases and inflation skyrockets.
2. No substantial benefits to the Ukraine and its people.
We cannot reasonably anticipated any substantial benefits to the Ukraine and its people from sanctions. Putin is essentially a dictator, who is able, by power and money, to withstand sanctions and to avoid any harm to himself from sanctions. He clearly has no concern for the well-being of his own people in Russia. So sanctions have not and will not end the war, nor decrease its harm.
Given that the reasonably anticipated benefits are little or none, and the reasonably anticipated harm is very grave harm to many innocents in multiple nations, it is not moral to act when you reasonably anticipate your act will do more harm than good.
3. Grave harm to other nations.
I will focus this description on the United States, since that is my nation and I know more about our situation than about other nations’ situations. But much of what I say applies to many different nations.
Russia is no longer exporting Ammonium Nitrate (Russia, Ukraine, Fertilizer, and Food Prices). This could cause severe disruptions in agriculture in the U.S., resulting in food shortages in the U.S. and E.U. Ammonium Nitrate (AN) is a crucial ingredient in commercial fertilizer (providing nitrogen to crops). Russian exports, until recently, provided two thirds of the world’s supply of AN. Without it, yields will plummet. Farmers will not be willing to plant crops without nitrogen, as the yields will be so low that they will lose money. Waiting for replacement fertilizer means a later planting for crops, which by itself can cause substantially lower yields, and greater likelihood of crop failures.
Financial disruptions to Russia will have effects on nations that do much more trade with Russia than the U.S. does. This results in a domino effect, which can eventually harm the U.S. economy.
Oil prices have almost doubled compared to a year ago. Prices should be expected to increase even further. The high prices of oil mean higher gasoline, diesel, and home heating oil prices. Shipping by truck will increase in cost, resulting in a much higher inflation in the U.S. and other nations. Coupled with disruptions in agriculture, this could result in high food prices, and runs on supermarkets (worse than at the beginning of the pandemic).
Corn prices at the commodity level have jumped 36% from $5.50 a year ago to $7.50 per bushel recently. Wheat is up 83% versus a year ago. Oats and Coffee are each up over 80%. Other commodity prices are also skyrocketing. Supermarket and restaurant price rises are likely to occur soon, and could continue to increase repeatedly, while supplies will fall. A run on the supermarkets is not far away.
The disruptions due to lack of nitrogen for fertilizers will take a few months or a little longer to have its effect. Right now, farmers have fertilizer and companies have stocks of fertilizer. There is Ammonium Nitrate in the supply chain. But that supply chain is no longer being provided with AN from Russia. And since that is 2/3rds of the world’s supply of AN, eventually that absence will work its way through the supply chain and reach farmers. This could take 4 to 6 months.
4. The loss of Russia’s help during World War 3.
As my readers know, I expect that World War 3 will begin relatively soon, perhaps later this year. It is the war of the Arab Muslim nations of the Middle East and northern Africa, led by extremists, against the U.S. and Europe. We had Russia’s help fighting Germany during World War 2. We will not have their help during World War 3, because of the sanctions and the resultant suffering that we inflicted on their whole nation, to no good effect. This loss of a potential ally may prove decisive.
Nations Punishing Other Nations
Each nation should be a peacemaker to other nations. Each nation is sovereign, and no other nation has the authority to treat that nation like a servant, slave, or piece of property. Russia therefore has no right to subjugate the Ukraine. But it is also true that the U.S. and other nations must respect the sovereignty of Russia and of other nations. We cannot judge other nations and then force them to behave as we see fit. Even though Russia is clearly in the wrong in the war against Ukraine, the U.S. and other nations are not thereby justified in doing whatever we like with Russia as a result. And this is especially true when our actions have no reasonably anticipated good benefits that would outweigh the very grave harm to many innocents in Russia, the E.U., and the U.S. among other nations.
Corporations Punishing Nations
I don’t think this situation has happened before in the history of politics. Individual civilians — who are neither elected nor appointed to government positions — but who lead economically powerful corporations, are now trying to punish an entire nation, specifically a superpower with nuclear weapons. The president or CEO of a private company has no right to judge the actions of a nation and then punish that nation by use of the corporation’s economic power. And this is especially true for a public corporation where the owners of the company are the shareholders. There is a legal fiduciary responsibility for a public corporation to act in the best interests of the shareholders and the company itself. Attempting to punish a nation to obtain a political result is a betrayal of that legal responsibility. What benefits accrue to the shareholders (of which I am certainly not one) when a company tries to punish a nuclear power for its decision to go to war by using the influence of that company? None. Only harm to the company and the economy can result. And there is no reasonable or likely anticipated outcome where the companies punishing Russia will succeed in ending the war in Ukraine.
The United States is a democracy. But in the present situation, corporate leaders — who are neither elected nor appointed to public office — deliberately attempt to influence the outcome of U.S. elections and of foreign political situations, just as if they were government leaders. This is a type of dictatorship. We see companies like Google deciding that certain ideas relating to the pandemic are right, and other ideas are wrong, and then they use their power over searches and videos to impose their decision, unilaterally, on the nation. And now a similar situation is occurring with the Ukraine war. Leaders of large companies are attempting to force a nation to do their will. They are dictators over a corporation, who are ignoring their responsibility to shareholders. Their actions are comparable, in a similar but lesser manner, to the actions of Putin himself. He is a dictator imposing his will on another nation. And they are leaders of large corporations attempting to impose their will on Russia. Putin does not act with the best interests of the people of Russia in mind, and these corporate leaders in the U.S. do not act with the best interests of their shareholders in mind.
Again, I’d like to emphasize that the invasion of Ukraine and the war against Ukraine by Russia is an unjust war. This unjust war is intrinsically evil and gravely immoral. However, that fact does not justify any and all responses to unjust aggression. If your neighbor assaults you, then you can morally use proportionate force in self-defense. (Laws vary, though, and this is merely a hypothetical to make a point about war.) What you cannot morally do is take revenge on your neighbor’s entire family and friends in order to punish him, or in order to deter him from assaulting you again. You cannot harm the innocent, even for a good intended end, such as to stop a war.
Prayer can stop a war; so also can sincere repentance and conversion, if enough persons repent. Perhaps the Warning will end the war in Ukraine.
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
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