The Pacifist’s Dilemma: What If The War Comes to You?

The Pacifist’s Dilemma: What If The War Comes to You?

pacifist facing an approaching army


The Ukraine War Has Created a Moral Problem for People in the Peace Movement


On February 24th, 2022, following a resolution in the Russian Duma, or legislative body which recognized the two breakaway regions of Ukraine, Donetsk and Lugansk as independent of the Ukraine authorities, Russia invaded Ukraine.

I had several phone calls with my long time peacenik friends condemning Russia, presumably for its ‘unprovoked aggression’ against the ‘legitimate government of Kiev.’


As a pacifist since my teen years, the attack certainly raised questions as to whether pacifism is always the only truly moral position. So this essay explores this question.


My Pacifist Dilemma—War What Is it Good For?





As a ‘Zen guy’, I often refer to this passage from one of the main texts in Zen, the Diamond Sutra. During his training before becoming the Buddha, he was meditating in the forest, when he was brutally attacked.


Moreover, Subhuti….., when the king of Kalinga cut my flesh from every limb, at that time I had no perception of a self, of a being, of a soul, or a person. And why? If, Subhuti, at that time I had had a perception of self, I would also have had a perception of ill-will at that time. And so, if I had had a perception of a being, of a soul, or of a person.”


Here is what Jesus had to say about dealing with violence towards oneself:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well”

But Who Will Defend the Defenseless? those of us who aren’t ready to be saints?

But Who Will Defend the Defenseless? Those of us who aren’t ready to be saints?


He did.


Read on to get my back story about what it means to be a pacifist. In the USA, which has never been under serious threat, pacifism is a luxury we can afford. Other countries and peoples—-not so much.



My Pacifist’s Dilemma


When I was 13 years old, I read the biography of Albert Einstein, and based on that, I felt opposed to all violence. As a 6 year old kid, fortunately my parents didn’t hit me if I did something naughty (which was rare), but my older cousin constantly picked fights with me which he always won because he was bigger. I was basically his punching bag.

I remember I was in the eighth grade, a kid picked a fight with me. When he hit me, I got him in a head lock and said, “OK it’s over, stop it”. But when I let him go, he put up his dukes, and I said “OK” and he backed off. I have always managed to avoid violence. One time, I had just left my Jewish temple, was walking through an alley, and some kids cornered me.

The lead guy said, ‘We’re gonna cut your balls off’. I just looked him straight in the eye. And he said to his friends, “Let’s go”. And that was that. I guess I’m lucky. I don’t look for fights, I avoid them.


The New York Times Tells the Truth—Sometimes– (But You Have to Look for It)


When I was 16, my then stepfather (my biological father had died 8 years earlier) used to buy the Sunday New York Times, about a 5 pound stack of all sorts of news and information. But I was interested in the ‘real news’ the political and geopolitical news. The Vietnam War was going on, and much of the news was about how to deal with the Communists in Vietnam.

But I noticed certain inconsistencies in what various articles talked about. Some writers were “Hawks”, those who advocated a strong military response, others were less enthusiastic, and were looking for rationalizations, on how to fight without getting really stuck (which we were).

And I’m thinking, “what are we doing killing people 12 thousand miles away who haven’t attacked us?”


Avoiding Military  ‘Service’.


During the Vietnam War, there was forced conscription, called ‘the Draft’. My mom had a big grudge against the military. She thought that my father, while not facing combat during WWII, was worked to exhaustion. His heath was broken and he almost died at age 30, and finally did die at age 35. And the Veterans Administration refused to compensate for that. So she was as determined as I was not going to fight in LBJ’s (‘hey, hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill to day’), or later “Tricky” Dick Nixon’s war.

Fortunately, I had allergies which resulted in a deferment, and then, there was a lottery my final year in college, which I ‘won’ because my number to be called didn’t come up.


Dropping Out


My first drop out was when I was majoring in chemistry, and after seeing stories about napalm and all sorts of weapons, and Agent Orange, I thought…”Oh so this is what I am being trained for…learning how to make stuff that kills people. So I dropped out of a useful science degree, and switched to German Literature, which is pretty useless. But I did get exposed to writers and thinkers.

Interestingly, in the good old country of ‘Freedom and Democracy’, there was a 19th century writer, probably the MOST influential German writer, if not world philosopher, which didn’t appear on the list to study—Karl Marx. Gee, I wonder why.


My ‘Crash Course’ in American ‘Democracy’


In 1968, with the Vietnam War going crazy, a buddy of mine and I went to the Chicago Democratic Convention, to protest the war and support the peace candidate, Gene McCarthy, the leading peace candidate–Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated following his win in the California primary.

I watched police beating up protesters outside the convention hall. The next semester, when I decided not to take a course in civics, the Professor asked me why I didn’t want to take the course. It was because I saw how “Democracy” actually works in the USA.

And in my senior year, the thought occurred to me without ever having read Marx, or any of the more well known political writers, that we are living in a state of ‘Corporate Feudalism’. The corporations call the shots…literally. Faced with that horrible reality, I was fortunate in that, after graduating from college, I found a Zen community, where I lived for 13 years, outside the ‘dog eat dog’ Capitalist System.


Reality Enters


By 1982, with the election of Ronald Reagan and his ‘Evil Empire, the Soviet Union’ warmongering, a new peace movement arose. I went to several demonstrations, and we Zen students, encouraged by the Abbot, did a silent ‘Vigil for Nuclear Disarmament’ in downtown San Francisco.

One woman walked by and proudly said to me, “I own stock in Lockheed”… So I realized that by avoiding the Capitalist system, by living in a community where money was a completely minor issue, the problem was not going away.  Mass Murder is a very profitable business!

Later, I decided that I was going to have to be independent of an institution, and get a job. So I decided to go into the financial service business, since I would get on the job training in how money and the economy work.  I did that for about 18 years, during which the internet became available.


How the Internet Opened My Mind


I learned a lot of things that helped me make sense of the geopolitics.  Specifically, that there is a group of people, the Bush family, the Dulles brothers, and others, who collaborated with the German Nazis during WWII. You can read all about it in the book, “The Unauthorized Biography of George Bush”  [the father if ‘Dubya Bush’]. The ruling classes in the United States have propensity for the same values as the Nazis and Fascists they supported before WWII.


September 11th, 2001 As a Major Turning Point


That event, given the context of a Bush family member presiding over it, the many highly suspicious data points surrounding it, disturbed me a lot. Meanwhile, many people such as former LA police officer, Mike Ruppert, were unearthing many inconvenient truths

Truth and Lies about 911

You can also read all about it in this book, Crossing the Rubicon



Dropping Out Again


After September 11th, 2001, the internet exploded with many websites and independent observers and analysts, such as Mike Ruppert, and websites like, providing a lot of background context and fact checking.

So it became obvious (at least to me), that the terrorist attacks presumably by Osama Bin Laden were a cover story. Evidence pointed in more sinister directions. It looked like some deep pockets were making bets against the companies that would be affected by the attacks. Watch the video to get more ideas about this.

By 2004, with the Iraq War, clearly based on provable lies, I decided to leave the US and get back to my meditation practice. Plus, living in the US was bad for my mental health, and I couldn’t see any action I could take that would improve the situation: Both Presidential Candidates, George Bush and John Kerry belonged to the same fraternity with the ominous name, Skull and Bones. It had its own dubious history, such as being founded by early Opium traders in China.


Keeping Up with Current Events


Nonetheless, I continued to keep an eye on current events unfolding…the egregious attack that destroyed Libya…based on lies. The fomenting of civil war in Syria by Obama, and fostering of more lies to torment that country.


The Visible Beginning of the Ukraine Crisis


In late 2013, I came across a website, called  It was run by a guy named Andre Raevsky, aka The Saker. He has a Russian background, and attracted a lot of very knowledgeable followers. He first started reporting about unrest in Kiev in the fall of 2013. As some of you reading this know, the situation degenerated into the “Maidan Coup”, engineered by Victoria Nuland and given the final go ahead by Joe Biden himself, who was Vice President at the time.

The Saker discontinued publishing, but there is a successor site that has good stuff on it,

The situation continued to deteriorate following the February coup, with the May 2nd Odessa Massacre, and the fascist led Ukrainian nationalist organizations terrorizing those in Donetsk and Lugansk, with these same unsavory characters carrying out the ATO –Anti Terrorist Operation—attacking mainly defenseless Donbass civilians. In response, they organized themselves, got hold of weapons and help from Ukrainian military who also opposed the coup.

Question: Should the people of Donbass have taken the ‘moral high ground’ and got themselves slaughtered, as happened to the demonstrators on May 2nd in Odessa?


The May 2nd demonstrators were herded into a building that was set on fire, and shot or beaten to death when they tried to escape?  Instead, the Donbass people of Donetsk and Lugansk opted to fight.


By 2015, the conflict was at the point, so it seemed, where the Ukraine regime forces were about to get defeated on the battlefield. However, at the apparent request of German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, Putin worked to put together a plan whereby the Donbass people, in Lugansk and Donetsk, would have semi autonomy, protection of the Russian language and culture, all of which were to maintain Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

That did not include Crimea, where the people,  threatened by an impending attack by a train load of thugs  voted to quit Ukraine and rejoin Russia.   This video explain what kind of people we pacifists are supposed to have a nice discussion to resolve our differences. It was made in early March 2014, as the situation was deteriorating.



This video shows footage following the coup, and what sort of people we pacifists are supposed to have a dialog with.

and this video describes the events surrounding the Odessa Massacre—The-Odessa-Massacre—What-REALLY-Happened:9


My sources Sevastopol, Crimea,  told me that they had been mistreated and neglected ever since the USSR fell. Crimea was ceded to Ukraine during the time of the USSR, apparently illegally, by then Soviet Premier Khrushchev.




8 Years of Low Level Conflict


At the time, there was a lot of controversy about Putin’s decision to implement the socalled Minsk Agreements. And during that whole time, settlements on the Donbass people’s side of the cease fire line got shelled regularly by Kiev.  This Ukrainian woman has a lot of interesting and informative things to say.


Since 1991, tension continued to mount. NATO had flagrantly violated its agreements not to expand NATO, including not just Eastern European countries like Poland or Hungary, but also former Soviet Republics such as Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and stationing NATO troops to envelop and slowly strangle Russia.


Zelensky’s Plan to Seek Nuclear Weapons


In  April, 2021, the Zelensky administration insisted that it be allowed to join NATO, or it would seek nuclear weapons itself. Either way, the plan was to station nuclear weapons controlled by Ukraine, or by NATO right on Russia’s border.  This action would result in a reversion to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when the US put missiles in Turkey. The Soviet Union responded by installing nuclear missiles in Cuba. This almost resulted in a nuclear war (which US generals were pressuring President Kennedy to initiate).


The December 21, 2021 Draft Treaties


On December 21st, 2021, Russia presented a draft treaty both to the United States as well as NATO. The treaty proposed that NATO return to its 1997 borders and to remove military hardware from countries in the vicinity of Russia. After years of violating agreements it had made with Russia, Russia finally said that NATO had to implement them. Otherwise, Russia would have no choice but to resort to “military/technical means”.

The response from the ‘collective West’ was dismissive. “We can do whatever we want…none of your business”


In February, 2022, It Gets Worse


The war going on between May, 2014, when the Kiev regime, the result of a coup, attacked those who opposed the overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected government, had already killed 14,000 people. But the situation really heated up starting in early February, 2022, when the usually biased OSCE had to report that shelling of civilian areas in the Donbass, Eastern Ukraine, had increased significantly.


‘In other words, Ukraine began shelling the independent republics of Donetsk and Luhansk nine days before Russia announced its ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine.

While the western corporate media remained completely silent, explosions documented by the OSCE increased from 76 on February 15th, to 316 on February 16th, to 654 on February 17th, and to 1,413 on February 18th.’

The Russian Federal Assembly Adopts a Resolution


Given the obvious threat that the ethnic Russians in the Donbass faced, with massive increases in shellings, and leaked plans for an imminent attack by Kiev, the Duma adopted a resolution to finally recognize them as separate from Ukraine. After all, Ukraine had cut off their water, people’s pensions and other services, as well as maintained their hostilities. Let’s say you live in a neighbourhood that gets shelled daily by the neighbour a few miles away. Would you appeal for help?


‘The Chairman of the State Duma recalled that a week ago the State Duma appealed to the President of Russia to recognize DPR and LPR as sovereign and independent states.

“There is a real humanitarian catastrophe, we see how tens of thousands of refugees, women, children are forced to leave their homes, thus, that is the only solution to make such decision in the current situation,” stressed Vyacheslav Volodin.

“Our country had insisted for a long time that Ukraine should implement the Minsk agreements.

But Kiev has undermined them by starting shelling of civilians in Donbas,” he stressed.

The Responsibility to Protect


Political process in the West is ‘very interesting’.  Here are several examples where the US invoked the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine. That is, when a population is under imminent threat, or already under attack, it is permissible for an external country to protect them.

Ukraine jealously guards its right to the territories of the Donbass, while systematically persecuting and attacking their own citizens. On that basis, it’s fitting that Russia, after 8 years of broken promises to enact the Minsk Agreements and amidst ongoing attacks on Russian speakers, finally heeded the cries of the Donetsk and Lugansk self proclaimed People’s Republics, to prevent an incipient slaughter.

By recognizing both republics’ independence, Russia from a legalistic point of view, laid the foundation to defend them.

Anyway, whether using the R2P formula, or the request for protection by the two breakaway republics, which invoked the principle of self determination, which even NATO used to excuse Kosovo’s secession from Serbia (without even a referendum by the people!), Russia justified its intervention and the ‘Special Military Operation’.

To this day, Ukraine and Russia are not officially at war: Russia did not pursue the American shock and awe campaign. Life goes on relatively normally. I just finished a phone call with my friend in Dnepropetrovsk. She was at the market with her mom buying food and other items.  She tells me that she heard 5 explosions, most likely on military targets, but civilian places are safe. People didn’t feel the need to run for cover.  Meanwhile, even the  gas pipeline contracts are still operating with Russia paying transit fees.





The Soviet people lost over 25 million people following the Nazi invasion in June, 1941. Russian people still have traumatic memories of that time. Russia has been invaded by the West in 1812 by France. In 1853 during the Crimean War, by France, England, Italy, Turkey. During WWI by Germany. And following the 1917 Russian Revolution by 8 countries.

In the closing days of WWII, Winston Churchill hatched the plot for “Operation Unthinkable”, to reinvade the Soviet Union—after the USSR saved England from the Nazis! Russia has been threatened by the collective West ever since, with NATO founded in 1949, with former Nazi generals among its top officials!

The US has broken nearly every Arms Control Treaty with the USSR, and placed nuclear capable launchers on Russia’s borders. With ongoing massive NATO military exercises, also on Russia’s borders.


Credible Evidence of an Imminent Attack


In June, 1941, Stalin received credible evidence of an imminent attack. He chose not to react, with the result that the Nazi invasion nearly broke the USSR, killing millions of people.

So imagine yourself in Russia’s shoes in 2022. A coup fueled by actual Nazis takes power with US connivance in Kiev. Eight years of hostility towards Russia and ethnic Russians build up more and more. Hatred towards Russia is instilled in Western populations with constant accusations—unproven—against Russia.

And in February, 2022 with massive shelling and strong evidence of an impending attack, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Be a saint, take your chances and if you get killed, you’d have satisfaction of taking the moral high ground?

Or fight to protect people already under attack, and prevent further catastrophes to your country?

In Nirvana or as a Christian saint, you’d be beyond birth and death. Such moral purity has a very high price. Would you be willing to pay it? With millions of lives at stake?

In the human world Russia chose to act.  What would you do?

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