“Never Compromise, Except Maybe In The Face Of Armageddon”

James Rozoff
4 min readDec 10, 2022

I’ve always considered myself a bit of a moral absolutist. The compromises other people are willing to make often seemed to me to be unacceptable. When Democrats tell me to “get real” and vote for the lesser of two evils, I’ve always quietly voted third party, preferring not to vote for evil at all.

When Rorschach says in The Watchmen “Never compromise, even in the face of Armageddon”, part of me strongly relates to it, even though I ultimately reject his argument and even though he was pretty much a right wing extremist sociopath.

I’ve always considered Democrats to be lacking any ability to take a moral stance on any issue, at least when they were in a position to actually do something about it. Whether it be the minimum wage, voting for Trump’s judges and tax cuts, the Iraq War, or failing to back sick days for rail workers, Democrats are never willing to stand on principle.

But DAMN! When it comes to Ukraine, the Democrats have me beat. They are fearless and unwavering when it comes to supporting the war effort. There is NO hesitation, their previously flaccid backbones turn to steel. And all thoughts of pragmatism, compromise, or realpolitik go out the window.

And I am forced to admit that, sometimes, especially in the face of Armageddon, my morality takes a back seat to preserving life on Earth.

This week, Ukraine was able to strike deep into Russia. It’s war, you know, so I won’t say it’s wrong of them. In fact I’m not making any moral judgments at all. As I said, I’m trying to be pragmatic on this so I’m just seeing things as they are and not how they should be. And all would be well, I suppose, if it were not for the fact that Ukraine actually hit a Russian air force base which contained nuclear weapons. Fortunately, no nuclear weapons were hit. That would have been bad. That would have been very bad. Not from a moral perspective necessarily but from a pragmatic one.

Not making moral judgments, but I wonder what would happen if Ukraine were to actually blow up a Russian nuclear weapon inside of Russian territory. What would any country do if another country caused a nuclear explosion in their own country? The thought is not a pleasant one, but I imagine the populace of any country would at that point demand an extreme reaction in order that they might be protected from another similar event. Think of our reaction to 9/11 times a hundred.

I don’t know where Russia sets the bar in terms of what their justification is for striking another country with a nuclear weapon, but I find it likely this might qualify. Historically, the precedent for dropping nuclear bombs on another country has been set far lower than this. The United States was facing a fanatical enemy in Japan that was willing to fight to the last man in a war of attrition. The U.S. claimed the use of Fat Man and Little Boy was justified because it ended up saving the lives of many U.S. soldiers.

I think Russia is facing that kind of situation now. Ukraine is not going to win the war but they’re not going to sue for peace, either. As (President of the European Commission) Ursula von der Leyen recently let slip, Ukraine already has a hundred thousand dead soldiers. And if the typical ratio holds, that would mean approximately three hundred thousand total soldiers incapacitated, MIA, and KIA. The fact that — unlike the U.S. in WWII — Russia is not calling for unconditional surrender but has been calling for meaningful dialog shows a certain amount of irrational recalcitrance on the part of Ukraine.

That recalcitrance no doubt is bolstered by the knowledge that Ukraine has the full backing of the United States and Europe. In fact it could be argued that this recalcitrance is not merely bolstered by the West but is insisted upon by Western powers. Which might place those Western powers (no value judgment on my part, just speculation) in the same crosshairs as Ukraine.

I know what your thinking: this comparison between Russia and Ukraine and The U.S. and Japan falls apart in light of the fact that Russia invaded Ukraine whereas Japan attacked the U.S. A little historical perspective would remind us that Hawaii was not part of the U.S. in 1941 but merely a military and colonial outpost. Strictly speaking — and I know this is opening a whole can of worms but it is hard to deny — Russia has far greater claims to territory in Ukraine than the U.S. had to Hawaii in 1941. Not a moral judgment, merely leaving the floor open to arguments from all sides.

In my mind, all war is wrong. But as I’ve repeatedly said, I’m not making moral judgments but am looking at this from a pragmatic viewpoint. Thinking of the prospect of nuclear war, I’ve found, does that to me. There is no moral stance I can take where I say “so we have to blow up the planet”. I can’t even take the stance that “we should risk blowing up the planet”. At this point I’m thinking outside the lines of right and wrong, us and them, and am thinking “What can I, as a human being who dearly loves this planet, do to preserve all life on Earth and my own ass, as well?”

Having said all that, I have respect for the Democrats and their Republican Party counterparts finally taking a moral absolutist stand on something. I wish it would have been universal healthcare or meaningful climate change policies, but respect is still due. Ultimately though, I am forced to reject their sudden unwillingness to compromise, even in the face of Armageddon. Like Rorschach, while I respect their ability to take a moral stand, I find them to be right wing extremist sociopaths.