A new scenario
"I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest." Revelation 6.2
"Today war has returned to Europe" ran the sombre announcement on the BBC News this morning. Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine has played to a world stage. Almost as if in slow motion, with the same awful predictability as attended the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11, the world has watched this nightmare scenario unfold. The question is: what now?
It seems so far away and the reluctance of the rest of the world to get our hands dirty by entering the fray, "putting boots on the ground" as the now familiar cliché for real military action expresses it, is the elephant in the room. Ramping up sanctions is a long-term strategy with no guarantee of success. To counter it, the Russian President may well decide to extend his advantage as far as possible while he can - in the hope that by the time any deterrence kicks in, he will be strong and secure enough to weather the storm. And then, who knows how far he will have reached, what he will be capable of, what new ambition for blood and power he will have acquired?
Christians are faced with a familiar moral dilemma: should we take up arms and fight, or does the pacifistic example of Jesus compel us to alternative action? The Just War Theory has proved convincing in the past. But has it ever achieved anything other than perpetuating the possibility of further war and therefore justifying the continuing arms race in its preparation? Yet what of the alternative? Refusing further involvement in the destructive behaviour cycles of a dying world, in order to insist on exemplifying the values of the new order promised by Jesus and anticipated by the early church, might look like a spectacularly risky strategy. Yet climate change and coronavirus have introduced us to further dimensions of the new reality which confirm that, actually, we have never been here before...