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(LifeSiteNews) – In 2003, as the United States was preparing to invade Iraq, I came very close to dropping out of law school to enlist in the United States Army. I remember sharing a hotel room near Fort Meade for prospective recruits with a young Haitian immigrant who was going into the army because his mother wanted him to stay out of trouble. I remember doing so well on the ASVAB test, that the testing instructor looked up from the scantron sheet and told me, “here comes a future general.” I also remember doing so poorly on my vision test, on account of my severe color blindness, that the recruiter told me that I would never see a battle up close. Given my ASVAB scores I would be a great paper pusher. No thanks, and thank God.

Like many other Americans, I now understand that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq were doomed before they began. The day’s heady notions of being welcomed as liberators, of nation building, and of injecting democracy into the Muslim world ran head-on into 1,000 years of Middle East history.

I am writing this piece now to directly and unequivocally condemn Russia’s invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine. Fortunately, LifeSiteNews is a publication with the journalistic integrity to publish differing points of view. This opinion is my own and not necessarily the opinion of LifeSiteNews or its staff.

The Russian invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine is a textbook example of an unjust war. None of the six basic criteria for a just war are met: possessing just cause, being a last resort, being declared by a proper authority, having the right intention, having a reasonable chance of success, and the end and means being proportional.

Just cause

Vladimir Putin claims that Ukrainian overtures towards the EU and NATO threaten Russian sovereignty and, therefore, invading and annexing Ukraine is a just cause. This is a very weak claim, to put it mildly.

Ukraine has the misfortune of being geographically located between Russia and the EU. On matters of the economy, rational Ukrainians prefer to be allied with the prosperous and peaceful European Union (with all its moral and political defects) than with the autocratic, corrupt, and aggressive Russian Federation.

Militarily, Ukraine is located between the military spheres of influence of the Russian Federation – which collaborates with Iran, Venezuela and Communist China – and NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization headed up by the United States and the United Kingdom. Given the history of the Ukraine, with many living Ukrainians still remembering their parents or grandparents surviving or perishing during the Holodomor (the forced starvation of 4-7 million Ukrainians) at the hands of their Soviet/Russian neighbors, the choice is crystal clear.

Far from being a provocation, the fact that Ukraine decided to look to the West for prosperity and defense was always the only rational option.

Mr. Putin also argues that Ukraine has been carrying out a genocide against the ethnic Russian population of Eastern Ukraine. Of course no reliable sources have verified any such genocide. Instead, Putin’s forces have actively been destabilizing and arming the rebels for over a decade; remember Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 where 298 innocent souls lost their lives to these Russian-backed rebels.

Last resort

While Putin states that the Minsk agreement has been violated, the truth is that the agreements were always fragile, unnecessarily complex, and never fully observed by either side. Clearly, the Ukrainians, like any other modern nation in a historically complex region, have a right to try to maintain their current internationally recognized territorial integrity and not allow neighbors to erode it by the use of force. Regardless, the overwhelming use of force by Putin towards the entire country of Ukraine, not just the border regions, was never the last resort to settle the ongoing dispute in the Donbas region of Ukraine.

Declared by a proper authority

As always, the first victims of any tyrant are the people having to live under the tyrant’s thumb.

Although under international law, Putin is recognized as possessing the proper authority as head of state, there is a good argument to be made that his authority is illegitimate based on the widespread fraud and corruption that lead to his repeated elections. In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, elections always yield the same result, a comfortable victory for Putin and a controlled opposition in the communist party, which always takes second place. Significant political adversaries are imprisoned or killed or both.

I know many readers will complain that Joe Biden himself is guilty of winning an election through fraud. I actually agree that widespread ballot harvesting and a COVID-excused mail-in ballot free-for-all likely influenced the U.S. election, but that does not change the analysis of Putin’s war in Ukraine.

Right intention and reasonable chance of success

One point on which I disagree with many conservatives concerns Putin’s sincerity. Putin, we are told, is a man of his word, and we must take him at his word when he issues threats or gives reasons for his actions. I reject this reading.

Putin is a former KGB agent who deceived others for a living in the Soviet Union and then maneuvered his way to gain the Russian presidency by appointment. His grip on power has been strengthened not by good governance, sincerity, and popularity, but by Soviet-style elimination of free speech, promotion of propaganda, and weakening of any independent institutions. Therefore, the only intention that we can safely assume from any actions taken by Putin is the will to power in a physical and political sense. What possible good intention is there on the part of Putin in violently invading a neighboring nation that does not want him there? None. With regard to a chance of success, only time will tell. Russia is a much bigger nation with a powerful, if outdated, military. On the other hand, Ukraine has been preparing for war since 2014, when Putin ordered the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.


For a war to be just, the means being employed must be proportional to the end that is desired. Given that the first element of a just cause is not present in this war, any use of force would be considered disproportionate. The fact that a massive unilateral military invasion of a sovereign nation is causing many hundreds of civilian casualties and a million or more refugees means that Putin’s actions are absolutely disproportional.

Every element must be met in order for a war to be considered just. In the case of the Russian war on Ukraine, none of the requirements are satisfied.

Many in conservative circles argue that we must be careful not to provoke Russia into a third world war. I fully agree with this statement, but it must not be considered synonymous with appeasing Putin. When it comes to conservatives and Putin, I hear echos of Chamberlain’s “peace for our time.” But as a conservative, an American patriot, and a lover of freedom I believe in Reagan’s “peace through strength.”

None of us have enough information to know what the best course of action is to end the war as soon as possible and reduce the suffering of innocent people trapped in this war. Would a no-fly zone help or hinder, would U.S. military presence deter or escalate, would further sanctions on Russian exports, especially oil and gas, do more good or cause more misery? Should Ukraine become a member of the EU or of NATO?

These are all open questions and no one really knows the answers. The only simple solution is not guaranteed to stop Putin’s aggression, and it is the one that Biden and European nations are least likely to adopt due to blind ideology, and that is reducing the world’s dependance on Russian oil and gas by opening up production and exploration of energy on their own lands. Aside from that, I really do not feel qualified to opine on what specific things could end this war, but my gut tells me showing weakness is not one of them.

Putin knew that invading Ukraine would destabilize the world, cause great suffering to innocent people in Ukraine and in Russia, and present these conundrums to the world. Putin is the evil instigator here. As morally corrupt as Biden, Trudeau, and Macron may be, and as megalomaniacal the intentions of Klaus Schwab and his World Economic Forum are, the only one to blame in this war is Vladimir Putin.

The monumental erosion of basic rights and freedoms – the right to life, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom to petition the government, freedom from medical coercion, freedom of religion – that the entire world has endured during the COVID pandemic – along with the social media algorithm-induced-hysteria – has created such a sense of mistrust in our institutions, so much so that many conservatives no longer believe what happens in front of their very eyes. We cannot allow this entrenched cynicism to grab a hold of us. We must never succumb to the idea that 2+2 does not equal four, no matter how much we may dislike the person asking the question.

As a conservative, do I deplore the woke iconoclasm that has gripped most of the West? Absolutely. Do I approve of the deep state’s machinations to promote abortion and the destruction of traditional values at home and abroad? Never. I devote every waking hour I am not with my wife and children to these matters. But I continue to love my country all the same. I continue to reject the abuse of basic human rights no matter the politics and faith of the perpetrator and the victim.

Just like I stand with the innocent pre-born child, I stand with the innocent people of Ukraine, unequivocally and unapologetically.

Gualberto Garcia Jones is vice president of LifeSiteNews.