Friday, October 28, 2022

Musings on the Irrelevance of the Law of War Against Nuclear Despots

        By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

As a retired military lawyer I once taught soldiers that they could rely on the laws of war and American military strength to prevent despots like Vladimir Putin from committing war crimes.   Putin has proved me wrong.  He has demonstrated the irrelevance of the laws of war and international human rights in preventing war crimes of rogue nuclear despots like himself. 

Despots like Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China can use a nuclear option to prevent any military intervention used to defend against their aggression.  In this way they can make America’s strategy of mutually assured destruction (MAD) a deterrent against any intervention in Ukraine or Taiwan to defend against the aggression of either Putin or Jinping.

For nuclear powers, might makes right.  Strategies beyond international law are needed to prevent aggression by nuclear hooligans like Putin.  If their aggression can’t be prevented by laws, then military strategies that aren’t intimidated by nuclear threats must be developed and used, even if they risk using weapons of mass destruction.

For war crimes to be enforced, the perpetrators must be the losers in a war, as were the Nazis in World  War II.  Winners tend to ignore their own violations--as did the U.S. when it ignored Sherman’s intentional destruction of civilian property in the Civil War, and when it bombed enemy cities in World War II.  When laws are not enforced they are irrelevant.

Russia is a signatory to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, yet it targets civilian property and infrastructure and kills civilians in Ukraine with impunity.  Like Hitler, Putin conducts unmitigated aggression.  By his own admission, Putin’s purpose is not to defend Russia from Ukraine, but to restore the ancient Russian empire of Peter the Great.

There is ample evidence of Putin’s war crimes targeting civilians in Ukraine since his war of unprovoked aggression began in February.  If Putin cannot be apprehended and tried for his crimes, he and any other leaders of nuclear powers who have committed war crimes must be held accountable for their aggression through severe sanctions.

Alexander Motyl has predicted that “Internal Russian weakness and continued systemic decay mean that Russia will impose strategic defeat upon itself;” but Ukraine cannot rely on speculative internal weaknesses to protect it from Russian aggression.  Additional sanctions and military capabilities are needed to end Russian aggression and counter its nuclear powers.  

Until recently the world mistakenly assumed that the laws of war and the superior military strength of America and its allies would protect it from nuclear despots.  Now that Putin has demonstrated the vulnerability of the world to the aggression and nuclear intimidation of nuclear despots, the world must look beyond the laws of war to protect freedom and democracy.



On Why Russia’s strategic defeat is in the cards, Alexander J.Motyl cites evidence that “The reality is that Russia — as a state and as a regime — is profoundly weak. The economy, one of the world’s least impressive performers, is in a tailspin. The much-vaunted army has proven to be a paper tiger. The society is increasingly dissatisfied with declining living conditions, growing numbers of body bags, and the regime’s indifference to the fact that at least 65,000 Russian soldiers reportedly have died and at least as many are out of commission. Up to a million men have fled mobilization and certain death in Ukraine. Generals and secret policemen are at each other’s throats, hoping to shift the blame for the disastrous war from themselves. Internal Russian weakness and continued systemic decay mean that Russia will impose a strategic defeat on itself. There is no need for the West to invade or actively promote strategic defeat. All that’s needed is a continuation of the status quo: Ukrainian military success, Western support of Ukraine, and Russia’s internal decay. Putin is destroying the Russia he created.”  See

The world should be skeptical of Motyl’s assessment that Russia “will impose a strategic defeat on itself.” The Washington Post Editorial Board has warned, This is no time to go wobbly on resisting Russian aggressionThe GOP has sent mixed signals on aid to Ukraine.  Also unhelpful…was Monday’s letter from a group of 30 progressive House Democrats to Mr. Biden, urging the president to open direct cease-fire negotiations with Moscow. The Democrats said they want to “pair” this new diplomatic push with continued aid; which includes the suggestion that ending the war would help ease high gas prices. The White House politely but firmly rebuffed the idea.  This is no time to go wobbly — and that goes for lawmakers in both parties.”

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Musings on How Southern Politics Have Gone Nationwide

By Rudy Barnes,Jr., October 22, 2022

David Graham has confirmed what I have long suspected.  Southern politics have escaped their geographical confines and gone nationwide to reshape the Republican Party.  It’s now conservative, religious and dominant in America’s (red) heartland, while the Democratic Party remains dominant in the cities; and our polarized politics are hardening those partisan divisions.

I’m non-partisan, and I'm not ashamed to be a southerner.  In 1960 I marched with the Citadel Corps of Cadets through downtown Charleston to the Battery to celebrate the centennial of the first shots fired in the Civil War at the Star of the West as it attempted to resupply Fort Sumter.  Today cadets no longer wave the Confederate flag, but the past lives on.

I can relate to participating in that Civil War enactment without shame.  The evil of slavery and the Civil War are part of America's history, and should never be forgotten--or glorified. Many of America’s founding fathers who signed the U.S. Constitution were southerners, and most of today’s contentious issues have echoes from those antebellum days.

The limited role of government advocated by Thomas Jefferson continues to conflict with more expanded federalist roles advocated by Alexander Hamilton; and states’ rights continue to have relevance in a democracy that is once again coming apart at its seams.  Americans have never learned how to reconcile their deepest and most divisive differences. 

The Capitol riot of January 6, 2021, is a reminder of the fragility of America’s pluralistic democracy.  America’s churches are either unable or unwilling to promote the reconciliation needed in a divided America, even though it was a moral imperative taught by Jesus.  In American politics the Satanic urge to hate seems stronger than God’s moral imperative to love.

In the greatest commandment Jesus taught that we should love God and our neighbors of other races and religions as we love ourselves.  Jesus also taught that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:24); and Lincoln cited that moral imperative during our Civil War, when American churches were split on the  issue of slavery.  When will we ever learn? 

Slavery is long gone, but racism continues to plague the church and American politics.  Racism is no longer a Southern issue, but has gone nationwide.  Although we’re far from perfect in the South, we seem to understand racial issues better than large cities outside the South; but because I'm an old white southern male I’m sure that my views are considered prejudiced.

Today American voters are split in polarized partisan politics that are defined along racial lines.  Most churches remain racially segregated, with most white Christians voting Republican while most black Christians vote Democratic.  The church lost its moral compass when it put exclusivist church beliefs ahead of the altruistic teachings of Jesus, and there’s little hope that the church will reverse those priorities of faith.


On David Graham’s article, The United States of Confederate America, see

According to David Brooks, the dysfunction in L.A. Is What Happens When Race Is Everything.  See     


The following commentaries from 2015 are on religion, race and politics:

(7/5/15): Reconciliation as a Remedy for Racism and Religious Exclusivism

(7/12/15): Reconciliation in Race and Religion: The Need for Compatibility, not Conformity

(7/19/15): Religion, Heritage and the Confederate Flag

(3/12/16): Religion, Race and the Deterioration of Democracy in America

(3/26/16): Religion, Democracy, Diversity and Demagoguery

(7/9/16): Back to the Future: Race, Religion, Rights and a Politics of Reconciliation

(7/16/16): The Elusive Ideal of Political Reconciliation

(10/22/16): The Need for a Politics of Reconciliation in a Polarized Democracy

(11/19/16): Religion and a Politics of Reconciliation Based on Shared Values

(11/26/16): Irreconcilable Differences and the Demise of Democracy

(2/18/17): Gerrymandering, Race and Polarized Partisan Politics

(8/19/17): Hate, History and the Need for a Politics of Reconciliation

(11/11/17): A Politics of Reconciliation that Should Begin in the Church

(12/9/17): Religion, Race and Identity Politics          

(1/6/18): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Diversity in Democracy

(10/20/18): Lamentations of an Old White Male Maverick Methodist in a Tribal Culture

(12/29/18): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Justice in Religion and Politics

(3/9/19): Musings on the Degradation of Democracy in a Post-Christian America

(7/6/19): Musings on Democrats, Busing and Racism: It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

(7/13/19): Musings on Sovereignty and Conflicting Loyalties to God and Country

(7/20/19): Musings on Diversity in Democracy: Who Are Our Neighbors?

(9/21/19): An Afterword on Religion, Legitimacy and Politics from 2014-2019

#258 (11/2/19): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Polarization and Reconciliation

(2/1/20): Musings on the Sacrifice of Jesus on the Altar of Partisan Politics

(2/22/20): Musings on Why All Politics and Religion Are Local (and not Universal)

(7/11/20): Musings on America’s Culture War, Racism and Christian Morality in Politics

(8/1/20): Musings on Echoes from 1860 as America Seeks Truth and Reconciliation

(8//8/20): Musings on Religion and Racism: Belief in a White Jesus and White Supremacy

(8/15/20): Musings on Racism, Reparations, Racial Disparities and the Federal Reserve

(9/12/20): Musings on the Demise of American Democracy: Is It Deja Vu All Over Again?

(9/19/20): Musings on Law and Order, Reconciliation and Racial Justice

(11/7/20): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Good and Evil in Religion and Politics

(12/5/20): Musings on the Preference of White Christians for Demagoguery over Democracy

(1/16/21): Truth and Reconciliation in Politics and Religion in a Maze of Conflicting Realities

(Govern 2/13/21): Truth, Justice and Reconciliation in the Wake of the Second Trump Impeachment

(2/15/21): Counterpoint: The Danger of Racial Reparations as a Means of Restorative Justice

(3/27/21): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on a Civil Religion in a Divided America

(4/3/21): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Overcoming Racism

(6/12/21): From Hammond and Tillman to Trump: A Legacy of Shame for South Carolina

(6/26/21): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Critical Race Theory and The 1619 Project

(7/3/21): Musings on Slavery and Systemic Racism on Independence Day

(7/10/21): Musings on the Need for Racial Reconciliation in America’s Divisive Democracy

(1/29/22): Musings on the Inadequacy of Religious Moral Standards in American Democracy

(2/19/22): Musings on Reconciliation to Resolve the Dilemma of Diversity in Democracy

(7/16/22): Musings on the Standards of Political Legitimacy of “Woke” Millennials

(7/23/22): Musings on Moderating Extremism in American Religion, Legitimacy and Politics

(8/6/22): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Moderating Hatred in Partisan Politics

Monday, October 17, 2022

Musings on How Fed Interest Rates Feed Inflation and the Stock Market

By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

Have you noticed that bank stocks go up when the Federal Reserve increases interest rates?  That’s because the Fed is an extension of the banking industry, and the stock market is like a briar patch, with banks like Brer Rabbit.  While the stock market complains about Fed rate hikes, they allow banks to increase their profits on loans and credit cards.

The stock market is a measure of inflation.  Megacorporations on Wall Street produce most consumer goods in America and set their prices.  Most have remained profitable by raising prices to compensate for inflation and increased interest rates.  Fed rate increases have not slowed inflation and left consumers the victims of both inflation and increased interest rates.

The following commentaries dated from April 2019 remain applicable today.  They indicate a US economy plagued by crony capitalism, increasing disparities in wealth and a Federal Reserve that’s unable to control runaway inflation.  Unfortunately, elections next month offer little hope for progressive and fiscally responsible economic reform from either party.


(4/27/19): Musings on the Legitimacy of Crony Capitalism and Progressive Capitalism

(6/29/19): Musings on a Politics of Reconciliation: An Impossible Dream?

(2/8/20): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on America’s Love of Money and Lack of Virtue

(3/28/20): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on a Quick and Dirty Economic Revolution

(5/9/20): Exposing the Corruption of Crony Capitalism

(6/27/20): Musings on a Zombie Economy Fostered by the Federal Reserve

(8/22/20): Musings on America’s Two Economies: One for the Rich and One for the Rest

(2/6/21): Musings on the danger of economic disparities and excessive debt in America

(2/27/21): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Debt as a Vice or Virtue

(3/6/21): Musings on Socialism, Capitalism, Democracy and Debt in Politics and Religion

(10/30/21): Musings on Modern Monetary Theory, and Why National Deficits and Debts Matter

(2/5/22): Musings on the Stock Market, Inflation and Providing for the Common Good

(5/14/22): Musings on Inflation, the Stock Market, and the Economy

(7/30/22): Musings on Whether or Not We Are in a Recession: But Does It Really Matter?

Today the Dow climbed 600 points as strong bank earnings helped fuel a relief rally. See