Witt’s World: The Drumbeat of War With God on Our Side

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I’ve learned to hate the Russians
All through my whole life
If another war comes
It’s them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side
-Bob Dylan

Stephen Witt

Bob Dylan recorded the above song, With God On Our Side, in August 1963 just months after the 13-day political and military standoff in October 1962 over the installation of nuclear-armed Soviet Union missiles on Cuba, just 90 miles from U.S. shores bringing us to the brink of a nuclear war.

Fast forward to this week in 2022 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a breakaway country of the former Soviet Union, which has had cultural and ethnic ties to each other dating back to the 10th Century Byzantine church.

Ukraine declared its independence shortly after the dissolution of the former Soviet Union in 1991, and has been considered a quasi-member of the U.S. and Western European military alliance known as NATO since last year.

There is a saying that you don’t poke the bear because it can and often does provoke a negative response, and like the Bald Eagle in America, the bear is a national symbol for Russia.

And NATO has steadily been encroaching on the former Soviet Union and its sphere of influence countries. In 1999, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined NATO, amid much debate within the organization and Russian opposition. Another expansion came with the accession of seven Central and Eastern European countries: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

This is not to say, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign nation and one of the world’s most technologically advanced countries, is justified. This aggression has brought outrage across America and its media, including from both the left-leaning New York Times and the right-leaning New York Post.

All over New York City, there were protests and fears from Manhattan’s Upper East Side, to the East Village’s “Little Ukraine, to Brooklyn’s “Little Odessa.” And both the United States and England have been beating the war drums.

While it doesn’t appear the U.S. or its allies will get directly involved in this war, we are ramping up sanctions, while Russian President Putin is threatening a nuclear engagement if the West goes too far. All in all, it is stoking fears not seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis during the height of the Russian/American Cold War.

To this, I can only think of the last verse of the aforementioned Bob Dylan song:

So now as I’m leavin’
I’m weary as Hell
The confusion I’m feelin’
Ain’t no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
That if God’s on our side
He’ll stop the next war