No Compromise With Tyranny

No Compromise With Tyranny March 13, 2024

David Ellis: USAF Museum 07-30-2019 204 – Lets Make A Deal / flickr

As we must never let the perfect be the enemy of the good, we often have to embrace compromise, not only in our personal relationships, such as within marriage, but in society in general. This is especially true with politics. Politicians must make deals with each other, sometimes allowing things to be passed into law which they would otherwise oppose so that their initiatives also get approved. It is always better to promote the best of what is possible instead of demanding the impossible, but again, for that to happen, compromise will be necessary. The key is to make sure there is significant improvement as a result of a deal being made in a way that those involved will find that their conscience can accept the conditions of that deal. We must make sure everyone is in on the deal, everyone is working together for the common good, and that means, everyone is willing to compromise; if only one side is willing to compromise, and the other is not, then it is unlikely that any deals can and will be made. When this happens, the side which is unwilling to compromise is at fault, for what they want is pure submission, sometimes confusing the situation by calling such submission a compromise.

Negotiations are, of course, required to make for such compromises. But for those negotiations to take place, for deals, to be made, those involved in them must be able to trust each other. If one side has a history of consistently breaking whatever deals they have made in the past, it is understandable why the other side will not trust them. For, in such a situation, the side which does not plan to keep to their word can and will promise the world, making themselves look good, all the while seeking to use such negotiation to force the other side to do their will, to capitulate. This is why Ukraine, and those helping defend Ukraine, feel they cannot negotiate an end to the war with Russia, because they know Putin does not keep to the deals which he makes. Likewise, they know what Putin demands is unreasonable, as he wants Ukraine to basically surrender, allowing him then to do as he wills with the people who now come into his dominion (which means, they will suffer greatly, if not die, at his hands). Thus, Konstantin Sonin in the Moscow Times said:

The difficulty lies in the fact that negotiations with Putin are currently pointless because he cannot make any meaningful commitments. He can make promises in words, but in reality, these promises are worthless. Over his 20-year rule, he has promised practically everything — his signature is on the border treaty with Ukraine, for example. And he violated all of it. Over the past two years, he has broken almost every promise he made. Again, Putin himself may not even know about this. I suspect it would be a terrible risk for his subordinates to remind him of what he said a month, a year, or even a week ago. But everyone else knows that he breaks all of his promises. No matter how pragmatic and cynical a negotiator might be, what is the point of such negotiations?[1]

And, as Peter Dickinson explained, what led up to the current invasion was not a time of peace, but a time of Russia already being involved with its efforts to take over Ukraine, violating the deals it had already made. Russia was trying to act like it was doing nothing wrong, when in fact, it was involved in destabilizing Ukraine so that it can eventually create an excuse for its invasion:

Weeks after the military takeover of Crimea, Putin made similarly implausible claims of innocence as the same so-called “little green men” sparked a war in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region. For the next eight years, Moscow officials would continue to stubbornly insist Russia was not involved in eastern Ukraine, despite mountains of evidence clearly demonstrating the presence of the Russian military and the Kremlin’s direct control over the entire invasion. Russia’s policy of blanket denials made it virtually impossible to establish a viable ceasefire or move forward toward a sustainable settlement of the war in eastern Ukraine. Instead, Moscow made sure the conflict remained unresolved and continued to simmer, setting the stage for the full-scale invasion of February 2022.[2]

This is why many in Ukraine, and around the world, disagree with Pope Francis and his hope that Russia and Ukraine could come together and negotiate an end to the war. It is not because they do not want peace. They certainly want peace. They want an end to the war. But they know capitulation to Putin is not the answer—all that would establish is a false peace.  While it is understandable why Pope Francis, who rightfully sees war as an evil, wants an end to the current conflict, it cannot be done so long as Putin remains in power. He will only make a deal to break it in the near future. He will use the compromises made to bolster Russia while it prepares for his next war effort. Ukraine is only the first of many countries Russia plans to invade. The end to the war with Ukraine in this fashion will only help Russia as it makes its next plan. Ukraine stands in the way of further, worse wars. This is why a deal with Russia is not a deal to end war, or even to save lives. It will not mean peace. It will only mean a change in the war, while allowing Putin to continue to have the people in Ukraine face his wrath.

Similar to the way Putin has made it impossible for the world to trust Russia will keep its deals, in the United States, many within the Republican Party, those promoting and supporting Trump, especially House Republicans, prove they are unwilling to make the deals necessary for the sake of the common good. They do not negotiate, they make demands; they act like Biden needs to make a compromise, but what they mean is Biden must compromise his ideals and submit to their wishes, without ever making deals or compromises themselves. Those Republicans who do negotiate with Democrats, like Republican Senators who worked on a deal concerning the American border and how it will be protected, either become rejected by their party, or end up rejecting the very deal they made, showing once again, why it is nearly impossible to negotiate with Republicans. Biden and the Democrats made all kinds of concessions for a deal, but now, once again, the Republican commentary is that Biden, not the Republicans, need to compromise, as represented by what Nolan Rappaport wrote for The Hill:

If Biden really wants a bipartisan border security bill, he can work with the Republicans on combining provisions from the Senate Border Act with provisions from the bill that House Republicans passed last year, the Secure the Border Act of 2023 (H.R. 2). [3]

The Senate bill was bipartisan. Republicans got much of what they wanted out of it. The suggestion that Biden is unwilling to compromise, when that is what they did to produce the Senate bill, is indicative of the dishonesty involved in the American political landscape. Biden should not have to compromise with House Republicans to have the deal he made with Senate Republicans approved, as if the deal is all that he wanted and he had made no compromise to get it made. One side is being dishonest. They do not want to make deals: they want to make demands. It should never be forgotten deals were already made, and those now claiming they want Biden to compromise mean they want him to submit to their extreme ideological bill instead of the deals he made to make things better for everyone, deals which include elements which Biden’s supporters did not like and wish did not have to be made.

It is clear, what some mean by compromise is submission. This is what Putin means, and it is what many Republicans mean. It should not be surprising that we find Republicans not only acting like Putin, but seem to be his biggest supporters, trying to do all they can to give Putin what he wants. Neither Putin, not Republicans, want to engage in deal making, and neither seem capable of keeping to their side of the bargain. Certainly, Republicans do not come in good faith, which is why deals made with them are not kept. Republicans, however, say they are doing it all for their love of the state. They call it patriotism. But, because they dismiss notions of the common good, because they dismiss working for the betterment of the American people and promoting the social safety net needed for them, we must question their notion of patriotism. It seems their love for the state, for the United States, is more in line with what St. Thomas Aquinas said is the love a tyrant has for their state than it is with a love for good of the people within it:

But to love the good of any society so that it might be had or possessed, does not constitute the political good. Thus does a tyrant love the good of the state in order to dominate it, which is to love himself more than the state; for he desires this good for himself, not for the state. But to love the  good of the state so that it might be preserved and defended, this is indeed to love the state, and this constitutes the political good. So much is this so, that men would expose themselves to dangers of death or neglect their own private good, in order to preserve or increase the good of the state. [4]

We do not see such nobility with the Republicans. If we pay attention, they are constantly telling us what they want to do, and what they want to do is gain power and destroy their enemies. They want to force the American people to do their bidding instead of finding ways to help the people. It is why so many Republicans like to praise tyrants like Viktor Orbán or even Putin. Tyranny cannot be reasoned with. Tyranny cannot be politically engaged. It must be confronted and toppled. This is why compromise has become impossible, both with Putin, but with Republicans in the United States. They have proven themselves only to be concerned about themselves and their own power and ability to enforce their ideology at the expense of the common good. Justice demands resistance, not capitulation when the common good is rejected in this fashion. Once those who are tyrannical are no longer involved in the discussion, perhaps things can change, deals can be made, but until then, there can be no compromise with those who think compromise means submission.


[1] Konstantin Sonin, “Why There Will Be No Negotiating With Putin” in Moscow Times  (8-5-2023).

[2] Peter Dickinson, “Why Ukraine Refuses To Negotiate With ‘Habitual liar’ Vladimir Putin” in Atlantic Council (11-14-2023).

[3] Nolan Rappaport, “If Biden Wants A Border Bill, He’ll Need To Actually Compromise With Republicans” in The Hill (3-11-2024).

[4] St. Thomas Aquinas, On Charity. Trans. Lottie H. Kendzierski (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1960; repr. 1984). 29 [ Art. II].

 

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