One of the major ethical dilemmas that I recently faced had to do with Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which took place on March 21, 2014. The reason for this is that ever since when it happened, I never ceased being asked by my close friends and relatives to state what I think of the mentioned geopolitical development.
Consequentially, this presented me with the choice: Should I be condemning the annexation of Crimea by Russia (because I am a patriot, and the U.S. Government continues to condemn it), or should I be supporting it (because I am an intelligent person, and I know that by having annexed this peninsula, Russia simply restored the historical justice and prevented the peninsula’s population of Russians from being slaughtered by the Ukrainian Nazis, who recently overthrew the country’s legitimate government)? In this paper, I will outline the line of my ethical reasoning, which, in the end, has brought me to choose in favor of the second of the mentioned choices.
While deciding what stance I should adopt, in regards to the mentioned annexation of Crimea, I had to address the following ethical issues:
a) Remaining observant of the provisions of international law (which forbid territorial annexations) vs. Subscribing to the considerations of a commonsense logic (which deem the annexation in question thoroughly justified, in the historical and moral senses of this word).
b) Supporting the condemnation of the mentioned annexation by President Obama (even though I consider him an utterly ineffective President) vs. Expressing my support to how President Putin handled the situation (despite my awareness of the fact that Putin’s move, in this respect, may well trigger the outbreak of the WW3).
c) Proclaiming that those Ukrainians who overthrew the Ukrainian legitimate government in the winter of 2014 are ’fighters for democracy’ (because suits the geopolitical interests of the U.S.) vs. Claiming that these people are in fact Nazis [they openly wear swastikas on their sleeves], who consciously strive to plunge Ukraine in the civil war (because this indeed appears to be the case).
My Deontological Principles
Given the mentioned moral dilemma’s qualitative aspects, I decided to utilize the following ethical principles, while elaborating on what should account for the most ethically justified stance, in regards to the described geopolitical development:
a) The principle of ‘act utilitarianism,’ which proclaims that the discursive soundness of just about any ethical decision positively relates to the measure of its potential ability to benefit as many people, as possible (Woodard 255). Because it is specified by the mean of exploiting the rest of the world that America is able to ensure its continual wealthiness, there can be no doubt that, by having annexed Crimea, Russia undermined the reputation of the U.S. as the ‘world’s gendarme’ – hence, benefiting just about any person on this Earth, who happened to be non-American. And, as we are well aware, the population of non-Americans on this planet is much larger than the population of Americans.
b) The principle of non-violence, commonly associated with the Biblical commandment, ‘do not murder.’ After having annexed Crimea, Russia was able to prevent the potential slaughter of the peninsula’s Russian-speaking inhabitants by the Ukrainian Nazis – just as it happened to the Russian-speaking residents in the Ukrainian city of Odesa on May 2, 2014 (Hoyle, Hyde and Coghlan 28).
c) The principle of historical justice. Even though Crimea formally belonged to Ukraine for 20 years, it has never been de facto Ukrainian. After all, Crimea became incorporated into Russia in 1783 – long before Ukrainians ended up endowed with their sense of nationhood (Raiklin 30).
d) The principle of self-determination, thoroughly supported by the U.N. Charter. Even though American Media often refer to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in terms of ‘occupation,’ this is far from having to be the case. The validity of this suggestion can be illustrated, in regards to the fact that, during the Crimean all-national referendum, which took place on March 17, 2014, 96.6% of the peninsula’s residents voted in favor of Crimea joining Russia.
e) The principle of truth, associated with the moral imperative, ‘do not lie.’ There is plenty of evidence that Crimeans fully supported the coming of Russian troops, which is why the claim that the peninsula’s ordinary residents continue to oppose Russians strongly appears to be utterly untruthful.
f) The principle of the so-called ‘golden rule’ – do not do to others whatever you would not like to be done to yourself (Bruton 180). By condemning Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the U.S. strives to prevent Russia from being able to pursue its geopolitical agenda in the region, which in turn will cause Russians to adopt a similar attitude towards the U.S. pursuing its interests in other parts of the world.
In light of the above-stated, I am in the position to consider the following realistic and ‘insane’ alternatives:
a) Supporting America’s official stance on the subject matter in question (realistic).
b) Refusing to express my opinion on what I consider the actual significance of Russia’s annexation of Crimea (realistic).
c) Pretending not to possess enough information, as to what happened on March 21, 2014, in Crimea, to be able to say what I think of it (realistic).
d) Picketing the White House, while demanding that the U.S. policy towards Russia becomes much friendlier (insane).
e) Applying for Russian citizenship, as a gesture of my disagreement with America’s official position, in regards to Russia’s annexation of Crimea (insane).
Principles v. Alternatives
As it can be well seen, deciding in favor of the alternative A, on my part, would contradict all of the mentioned ethical principles. It is understood, of course, that if I was to adopt this particular alternative, I would spare myself of much of a headache. However, this would make it impossible for me to continue considering myself an intellectually honest individual and consequentially – a productive citizen.
The alternative B appears to be the most viable of all. After all, if I decided to stick with it, I would only be violating the ‘principle of truth’ (E). Another reason for me to consider this alternative is that it appears somewhat consistent with the ethical principle of ‘act utilitarianism.’ The rationale behind this suggestion is as follows: by refusing to state my opinions, in regards to the issue in question, I would be able to preserve the status quo in how I relate to my friends and relatives. Given the fact that, up to this point, I did enjoy maintaining a close relationship with these people (the same can be said on their part, as well), my refusal to say what I really think about the concerned subject matter, would preserve this relationship intact – hence, benefiting all of us.
Essentially the same can be said about the alternative D. Just as if I refused to land my views on the mentioned annexation. I would be transgressing the ‘principle of truth.’ However, in the aftermath of having adopted this alternative, I probably would not be able to enjoy the atmosphere of confidence between myself and my friends and relatives. The reason for this is that, while knowing me to take an interest in the world’s political affairs, they would find it highly unlikely that I do have nothing to say on the most dramatic geopolitical development of recent decades.
The remaining two ‘insane’ alternatives cannot be seriously considered – despite the fact that formally speaking, they do correlate with most of the ethical principles, mentioned earlier. The reason for this is apparent – if decided in favor of the alternative D, I would end up arrested on account of having violated at least one of the capitol’s numerous municipal bylaws. The last of the mentioned alternatives are even more ‘insane’ – even though I do support the annexation of Crimea by Russia (on account of the earlier outlined ethical principles); having my U.S. citizenship revoked is the last thing I would like to happen to me.
In light of the above-stated, there appear to be only two discursively viable courses of action for me, regarding the mentioned request, on the part of my friends and relatives: a) I refuse to provide them with my opinion on what I consider the significance of the geopolitical development in question, b) I tell them that, due to the earlier outlined considerations, Russia’s annexation of Crimea is indeed fully justified and that by condemning it, the U.S. exposes itself as a supporter of the Nazi cause.
If chosen in favor of the first of these alternatives, I would be able to ensure the integrity of my relationship with my loved ones. This, however, would be accomplished at the expense of forsaking my duty, as a citizen, to openly state whatever the opinions I happened to have on the matters of socio-political importance – regardless of how unconventional these opinions may be.
If chosen in favor of the second alternative, I would be risking a chance to have a relationship with my friends and relatives deteriorated. At the same time, however, I would be able to help these people to cease being utterly arrogant, as to the true significance of the most recent geopolitical developments in the world, which in turn should contribute to their value, as the country’s socially responsible citizens. There can be only a few doubts that the latter will contribute to the overall well-being of America.
After carefully deliberated the possible courses of action, in regards to what should account for the most ethically appropriate issue-related stance, on my part, I decided to proceed with telling my friends and relatives that I do support how Russia handled the situation. Even though it will put me in disfavor with many of these individuals, I nevertheless believe that my decision, in this respect, is fully justified. Being thoroughly consistent with the principle of ‘act utilitarianism,’ it will result in both: broadening the concerned people’s intellectual horizons and advancing the cause of peace between the great nations of the U.S. and Russia.
Bruton, Samuel. “Teaching the Golden Rule.” Journal of Business Ethics 49.2 (2004): 179-187. Print.
Hoyle, Ben; Hyde, Lily and Tom Coghlan. “Kiev Loses Grip on Odessa as Police Bow to Protesters.” The Times 5 May. 2014: 28. Print.
Raiklin, Ernest. “The Making of Post-Soviet Ukraine.” The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies 34.1 (2009): 23-70. Print.
Woodard, Christopher. “The Common Structure of Kantianism and Act-Utilitarianism.” Utilitas 25.2 (2013): 246-265. Print.