Bless the Peacemakers
Sat. night is both Christmas Eve and the first candle-lighting of Chanukah. The main theme of Christmas is “peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” The message of Chanukah is that victory comes “not by might, not by power, but by the spirit”.
These idealistic notions are being countered by rhetoric from the leaders of two countries where Christmas and Chanukah are being observed, the 2017 leadership of Russia and America. Vladimir Putin famously has two close Jewish friends from his youth in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) who share in the spoils of Kremlin corruption. Donald Trump has a Jewish daughter and son-in-law. Both men are nominally Christian.
The bombast and bombs are being rolled out by both leaders to cover up actual or potential failures of economic policy and populist electoral promises . In Russia, since Putin returned to the Presidency, the national growth rate has shrunk to 1%. To make up for this, the Russian populace is treated to false victories (as in Syria, which will not put bread in Russian mouths) or false enmities (a plot by the western powers to nab Ukraine and punish the righteous Russians for taking it back by imposing sanctions and a recession.)
With a modern army unaffordable, Putin's Russia is boosting its nuclear weaponry, which costs less.
Trump so far has not failed to fulfill his promises to his electorate because he is still not inaugurated. But the jobs in coal mining and heavy industry, the gains from ousting Mexican illegals, and the growth from blocking Chinese trade and currency cheating will never come to fruition.
Defense spending is more easy to organize fron Washington than coal mining jobs. Trump also wants to instigate trouble with Beijing by naming China-hawk Peter Navarro as trade policy chief, another Putinish tactic for finding a foreign scapegoat for domestic policy failure.
More nucldear bombs also help show that he did not gain the US mandate because of Russian hacking of Democratic Party websites. The Manchurian candidate too wants to build weapons for domestic political reaons.
So a Twitter post from the president-elect suggests an end to decades of bipartisan efforts to limit nuclear weapons. Mr Trump is also combining bombs with bombast in a symbolic move to satisfy his voters. The risk is that one of these leaders pushes the nuclear button. Nuclear war in 2017 is the nightmare outcome
. I pray that both men are smart enough to stop short of unleashing a hydrogen bomb. And everyone observing the winter Judeo-Christian holidays should add a prayer for the same outcome: peace.
Nuclear disarmament is the first step, just as it was under Kennedy. Alas, there are no votes in being a peacemaker although there may be a blessing or two.
As you gather around the Chanukiah or the Christman tree, remember to bless the peacemakers.
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