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Different faces of moral justification

Vladimir Putin

Will Vladimir Putin survive this war that he created with Ukraine? At the moment it is anyone’s guess how this war will end. Russia has the numerical advantage but the resolve on both sides is strong and it is hard to predict a “winner”. If Russia prevails, the means Putin needs to use in preserving his victory, even if a stalemate, takes him back a couple of generations and fits him in the league of leaders such as Joseph Stalin and the Kremlin. If he is shoved out of leadership, Russia may break into a thousand parts.

The afterlife for the Russian president cannot be sustained by anything approaching a democracy. Although Russia has good relations with Bric countries such as India, Brazil and China, as well as South Africa, the context in those countries is largely economic — there is no shared ideology. If there is a sharing, it is at the very top end among the leaders, many of whom enjoy the idea of autocratic rule. In most cases, they do not share the popular support of their populations.

The Ukrainian war has tarnished the good that might have been attributed to Russia. They weren’t all bad: Russia’s influence in many nations focused on technology. Many emerging countries gained their jump through technology and their trade relations with Russia.

Russia today is being tainted as an atrocious beast and perhaps it is. Then, truthfully, there is the whataboutism, when we compare what America did in Iraq, and in Afghanistan after 9/11, when millions of lives were blown away. We know there will never be a moral equation, as we count the tens of thousands of lives that will be lost in Ukraine. And, yes, it is a bad situation, difficult to look at, horrible. But in comparison, it will never equate to the numbers lost in Iraq alone.

The one principal difference is the cause. The presumption we in the West hold is that we are fighting for the liberty of individuals and that men should be free to choose their leaders. That single principle has been the moral justification for our wars. If a million innocent people are killed, no worries, it’s collateral damage for the higher cause. That’s the morality we live by.

In smaller ways, little countries such as Bermuda have determined their moral causes, too. Whether it is Bermuda or British Virgin Islands, you will find the justification for corruption — where leaders once poor as the proverbial church mouse suddenly become Richie Rich.

We have our own whataboutism, too. It is so easy because it is obvious to jump on the bandwagon of criticism. But what about the United Bermuda Party period when they made a “king”. Didn’t he become rich, too, but when he was no longer part of the equation, they resorted to dismantling his empire? I can recall that king saying to them, “don't just support me, give others the opportunity as well”. I heard him make that plea several times, but that wasn’t the game plan then.

When will the world of thought and ethics tend towards a true foundation upon which leadership can be assessed? Aside from political posturing, there must be a universal position of what is right or wrong based on lawfulness and equality.

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Published May 25, 2022 at 7:50 am (Updated May 25, 2022 at 7:40 am)

Different faces of moral justification

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