The Russian/Ukrainian is something that is a little different than the many wars of the past. There was a big lead-up with countless warnings that this was going to happen. There is unprecedented coverage in the media that is reaching worldwide. It is also clear who the aggressor is. In many of the other ongoing fights, like Ethiopia, The Central African Republic or even Syria, it is not clear who is invading whom. The reaction to Ukraine is nearly unanimous: this is wrong.
War is horrible. Every war takes life in ugly ways. It destroys families and leaves a path of grief. The property damage takes years, even decades to fix. Why do we do it?
There are many causes, but I would like to highlight a few very common ones.
A False Narrative
The leaders and often the combatants have a false idea about the people they are fighting. For Putin, the idea that the Ukrainians really want to be a part of Russia and a few people are leading the nation to the West and persecuting the Russians in the country is his false narrative. Sometimes we tell ourselves what we want to believe to give us a pretext for war. For Putin this false narrative makes up a list of reasons to attack. You can add to it a fear that NATO will attack him.
Americans wanted someone to punish for 9/11. A shadowy terror organization is a hard one to target. Nations are easier, you can find them on a map. Iraq and Afghanistan were bad places with bad leaders, but attacking them didn’t achieve the goal we set out to accomplish. The narrative was not quite correct.
What can be done about false narratives? The average person can do very little. Demonstrations, questioning leadership, and being very slow to demand national retribution comes to mind.
Putin is 70 years old and is thinking about his legacy. His dream is to be the savior of the defunct Soviet Union. His country is not the economic powerhouse that is should be. He can thank his personally sanctioned corruption for that. Of what else is there to be proud? Perhaps he can be feared. Perhaps he can wield influence.
Arrogance of leadership often fuels war. World War I was little else. The warring found in ancient times was mostly this cause.
What can we do about arrogance. Be careful of who you put into office. Character, as well as, policy needs to be considered.
Capturing territory and resources, or squeezing money out of occupied lands has frequently been the cause of war. Every nation has been guilty of it at some time.
People can do more about this. They can’t be the driving force behind a call to war. Demanding land, protesting costs and other pressures can drive a nation to unjust war.
Is War Ever Just?
War is always regrettable, but sadly it is necessary sometime. The Bible does give governments the “power of the sword”. When would God accept the use of it? Self-defense is the clearest just provocation of war. What about if you are an oppressed people? This is not something that is always clear. Trying peaceful means, exercising patience, urgently praying must be tried first. The death of even oppressors is not just before God. But eventually the judgment of God exercised through even human means can happen. The burden is on God to move such a war ahead or hold it back.
In very limited scope, God has used nations and war to punish very sinful people groups. God is extremely patient, but the Bible does record examples of this.