As the war progresses in Ukraine and the country devolves into a total Without Rule of Law situation, the question has arisen: In a true WROL situation do morality and integrity matter? If civilization collapses, isn’t everything justified?
The answer is an emphatic yes, morality and integrity matter, and no, not everything is justified.
If the godly give in to the wicked, it’s like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring.
Proverbs 25:26 (NLT)
The question arises because I’ve been pointing out integrity and morality issues on Twitter related to the behavior of troops on both sides, as well as civilians trying to survive in Ukraine. As I point these out, I get roundly mocked or called names for suggesting that in war and societal collapse, we should retain whatever semblance of honor we had.
Yes, I agree that Russia illegally invaded Ukraine. That doesn’t mean, however, that the Ukrainians can then justify beating prisoners who have surrendered on video or Ukrainian soldiers dipping bullets in pig fat. Likewise, the risk posed by resistance fighters doesn’t justify Russian units firing autocannons into civilian vehicles or bombing hospitals. We can retain our integrity and morality.
I recommend everyone get a copy of Resistance to Tyranny. It contains an excellent discussion of the Christian Just War Doctrine, which is a great guide for anyone in a WROL or “Resistance Fighter” situation.
But, what does any of this mean for us? We aren’t there, so what does this have to do with us?
We have to be able to trust that our fellow mutual aid group members will act in a moral fashion and with integrity. You need to be 100% certain that each member will stockpile the supplies you planned on, and then execute the plan when the time comes. You need to know that if they are going to be on guard duty, you can trust them to actually perform. You need to be able to trust that they won’t hoard food or steal from your own group.
The best predictor for future human behavior is past human behavior. Know the history of everyone in your group and vet anyone seeking to join. Ask them about attitudes. Listen to what they are saying. A great guide for organizing your group and vetting members is the Civil Defense Manual.
It should go without saying that anyone who plans on raiding others or looting to obtain supplies is not someone you should rely on, yet there are people, and entire groups, who say that this is their strategy. If your plan is to survive by stealing from others or locating stashes from others, you have a morality and integrity problem. Make a note of any people like this who try to join your group.
Recovering supplies from looting groups or any occupying force is not the same, and it would be wasteful not to. The difference is in intent. If your group has to take action to eliminate a looting band or ambush an occupying force, the intent wasn’t to steal supplies. It would be silly, in that case, to leave behind operable weapons, usable gear, or edible food. In fact, the Laws of Land Warfare (Hague/Geneva), which would treat your local mutual aid group as a “local militia”, considers this legal as “war booty”, including all non-personal property and weapons.
You may not call your group a militia (in fact, I encourage you NOT TO in the current environment), but both the Hague and Geneva III conventions (Geneva III, Art. 4(A)) define a militia as a group who:
- Is commanded by someone responsible for the subordinates.
- Has a fixed and distinctive sign (flag or patch).
- Carries arms openly.
- Conducts itself in accordance with the Laws of War.
I get a lot of comments that “there are no rules” or “we won’t be following the rules”. I caution you that if order is ever restored, having followed the laws of war and thus allowed yourself to be deemed a “local militia”, you gain yourself some powerful legal protection in the aftermath. Most of the laws of war are common decency and common sense anyway.
Another issue that the Ukraine War has brought up is the concept that the “enemy of my enemy is my friend”. This concept could not possibly be farther from the truth and in fact, historically, has been proven wrong nearly every time, in the long term. Having integrity and morality demands not associating with bad folks.
In 1979, Russia invaded Afghanistan. World media showed the fighting and atrocities and begged the world to aid the dedicated freedom fighters, known as the Mujahideen. The world asked for foreign fighters to flock there, and the NATO nations literally handed out billions of dollars in weapons to anyone who wanted to fight. We now know that some of the Mujahideen then became the Taliban and some of the foreign fighters became Al-Qaeda, led by a young man named Osama Bin Laden. The rest, as they say, is history.
In 1939, the Soviet Union and Germany signed the Non-Aggression Pact to allow them to partition Poland (the enemy of my enemy is my friend). A short time later, Germany broke the agreement and invaded the Soviet Union.
Today, we haven’t learned a thing. the Azov Battalion of neo-Nazis was formed in 2014 and we’ve had 8 years to tell Ukraine that if they want our funding, they have to disband the Nazi unit. We even wrote into one such funding measure that none of the gear could be given to Azov, but we removed that provision at the last minute, thereby giving our approval to the unit. China is already running stories in the Global Times (Mar 7th) tying US funding to atrocities committed by the Azov’s. We never learn.
For us, when our group is faced with danger, if another more “morally ambiguous” group offers to help us, we have to learn to decline that help. Others in the area will learn of your affiliation with the sketchy group and you will be painted with the same brush and potentially lose trade agreements or be targeted. Maintain your integrity by not associating with any group that doesn’t share your morality.
Remember what your ultimate goal is….survival and not falling victim to the depravations of others. What good is it if you become as bad as what you are resisting or protecting against? In fact, the Ultimate Tactical Handbook talks about this:
What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
Make sure that your team and all of it’s members act with integrity and retain their morality, even if it’s unpopular to do so. Especially if it’s unpopular to do so.
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