Is there no innocence in war?

What is happening in Ukraine is only new to you if you haven’t followed what has happened in wars over all the years. One might assume that with the passage of time, the precious nature of human life would grow in stature, particularly in light of the way people have behaved.

After all, at least 25 million Russians died in World War II. You would think that a nation that carried that kind of loss on its heart would have a deep respect for life and a longing to preserve and protect it as well as it can.

Apparently not.

I am not interested in debating strategy here. No doubt the end of the World War Two was hastened and the Japanese were burned into surrender by the atom bombs the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

But tens of thousands of people were incinerated, poisoned for life, obliterated when those bombs exploded. That reality did nothing to stop the escalation of nuclear competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. The reality of that kind of power warps the moral fiber in a culture. We and the Russians are both up to our eyes in nuclear weapons.

Could anyone ever unleash that kind of horror again?

“We did it because we had to” becomes the false rationale, just as it did in the last Great World War. It put us in a moral quandary then, and its puts Putin in one now. He is pretending there is an issue that led him to send the troops in. He’s going after Nazis! That’s a great buzzword in a nation that lost 25 million people fighting Nazis.

Russia apparently sees no value in a crucial question.

What about the innocents?

This is a question for Vladimir Putin as he pursues his ruthless campaign to drag Ukraine back into what used to be the old Soviet universe. That seems to be Putin’s dream for the Russian World, a world that started collapsing when Czar Nicholas was executed and the strange theology we called Communism took over for so many decades.

So far in this brutal assault, 71 children have been killed– or call it what it is, murdered– and 100 more have been injured as Putin has turned his rage on the innocent people of Ukraine. Of course he has his rationale, pumped out all day by a propaganda machine worthy of the Soviet era. He has his own truth, no matter what the real truth is. For many people in Russia, this brutal act of war seems like nothing more than a police action, because that, in effect, is how Putin has lied to them about it.

I have a picture that was in the New York Times this morning that I find particularly moving. It is here in this underground nursery in Kiev where many babies born for surrogate parents are well kept by the staff, but in deep jeopardy as Putin continues to push his murderous assault.

This is what innocence looks like.

Surrogate babies in an underground nursery in Kiev.

My immediate question when I saw the article and the story was, “Is he going to kill them, too?” The answer is that he won’t even know. He has unleashed so many missiles and artillery barrages in Ukraine it is impossible for him to know what actual damage he has caused, or how many people he has killed.

That he is a blind murderer doesn’t make him less of a murderer.

Still there is justice, a bigger justice than something dished out in court.

Vladimir Putin is an awful man, and an awful leader. We can only hope some kind of justice, however unexpected, settles on him before he murders innocence again.

If you are a praying person, pray for those babies, and all the other lovely babies who have already been slain.

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