Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Allied Bombing of Dresden, 1945

(Destruction of Dresden, 1945)

[NOTE: A week ago, my father’s ashes were interred with full military honors in a military cemetery in California. The ceremony included a three gun salute, a bugler playing “Taps,” and the flag-folding ritual. Although my father served during the Korean War, he never saw live action. Instead, he was sent to Cuba on a reconnaissance mission. My brother is also buried in a military cemetery and died of cancer at the age of forty. He was an Army medic and became a paramedic and German teacher after leaving the military. Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer here in the United States. We honor all of our dead this weekend, but especially, those who have served, fought, and died protecting our country. War is hell, as any soldier will tell you, but sometimes, it is a necessary evil. Just ask the people of Ukraine, who are fighting for their lives, their country, their freedom, and their sovereignty as a nation. Please take a moment to remember all the soldiers who have given their lives to protect YOUR country.]

Allied Bombing of Dresden

The British RAF began dropping bombs on Dresden, Germany on February 13, 1945. Over the next few days, British and American Allies dropped approximately 4,000 tons of bombs onto the city, killing 25,000 people, and destroying the center of the city (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 2).

Prime Minister Winston Churchill questioned the attack, saying, “The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing” (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 2).

But, was the bombing justified?

Summary of Theories and Concepts of Pufendorf and Vattel

Pufendorf claimed that the enemy’s aggression “allows me to use force against him to any degree, or so far as I may think desirable” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 152). He explained that the people fighting a defensive war may use any force to put an end to the threat against them, receive reparations, or “secure guarantees for [their] future security” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 152). It was not, he explained, a priority to gauge proportionality but to ensure “the defense and assertion of [their] safety, [their] property, and [their] rights” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 152). The people on the defensive, therefore, may use whatever means necessary to defeat the enemy.

Vattel, on the other hand, believed that “now the laws of nature being no less obligatory on nations than on individuals, whatever duties each man owes to other men, the same does each nation, in its way, owe to other nations. Such is the foundation of those common duties – of those offices of humanity – to which nations are reciprocally bound towards each other” (Christov, 2018, pg. 159). But he also allowed for the possibility of nations that would violate the law of nations and violate all the civilized rules of warfare: “If there were a people who made open profession of trampling justice under foot, — who despised and violated the rights of others whenever they found an opportunity, — the interest of human society would authorize all the other nations to form a confederacy in order to humble and chastise the delinquents . . .the safety of the human race requires that [such a nation] should be repressed” (Christov, 2018, pg. 160).

Was the Allied Bombing of Dresden Justified?

At the time of the bombing, the Eastern Front – “where Nazi Germany was defending [itself] against the advancing armies of the Soviet Union” – was only 155 miles from Dresden. According to Luckhurst (2020), Dresden “factories provided munitions, aircraft parts and other supplies for the Nazi war effort” (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 3). It was a major city through which German “troops, tanks and artillery traveled through . . . by train and by road” (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 3). The attack was intended to bolster Soviet efforts on the Eastern Front (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 3).

RAF planes were equipped with both “high explosive and incendiary bombs: the explosives would blast buildings apart, while the incendiaries would set the remains on fire, causing further destruction” (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 4). The United States Air Force completed the attack with daylight bombings which were directed at the city’s railway yards” (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 4).

The Nazis denied that Dresden had any military function and exaggerated the death toll at 200,000 civilians. They claimed that Dresden “was only a city of culture” (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 7).

Worldwide, Dresden was considered a tourist attraction. British Members of Parliament questioned the attack, and the Associated Press accused the Allies of using terrorism against the people of Dresden (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 7).

Allied military leaders defended the attack as necessary to further cripple Nazi Germany and end the war. A 1953 report done in the U.S. determined that “Dresden was a legitimate military target” (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 9), and the attack was no different from previous attacks on other German cities.

The debate continues, with some people viewing the bombing as immoral – possibly a war crime – and others defending it as necessary to help end the war with Germany (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 9).

My own view is that Pufendorf’s and Vattel’s theories both justify the bombing of Dresden. Pufendorf is correct when he says that the side waging a just war (in this case, the Allies) may use any means necessary to secure the peace and “secure guarantees for . . . future security” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 152). Nazi Germany was a rogue nation that had invaded other countries, murdered millions of people, and imposed authoritarian rule against the will of the people. They were guilty of “trampling justice under foot . . . [and] despised and violated the rights of others” (Christov, 2018, pg. 160), in Vattel’s own words. So, Vattel is also correct when he says that “the interest of human society [should] authorize all the other nations to form a confederacy [in this case, the Allies] in order to humble and chastise the delinquents . . . the safety of the human race requires that [such a nation – the Germans] should be repressed” (Christov, 2018, pg. 160).

Is Preservation of Cultural or Artistic Enemy Cities Relevant in War – Or are they Secondary?

My personal view is that preserving cultural and artistic enemy cities is secondary because defending the safety of Allied nations, property, and human rights takes precedence and aligns with both Pufendorf’s and Vattel’s theories of just war and the right of self-defense. Germany was the aggressor. It was not the duty or priority of Allied forces to save their cultural and artistic centers (Christov, 2018, pg. 160; Glanville, 2018, pg. 152).

Is it Justifiable to Bomb a City to Weaken the Enemy Civilian Morale – Even if the City has Marginal Industrial Significance?

Although the Nazis claimed that Dresden was only a cultural center, the Allies considered it an important transportation center for the Nazis and sought to help Soviet forces on the Eastern Front by destroying it (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 3). The bombing weakened civilian morale but also undermined the Nazi’s efforts on the Eastern Front. Since civilians in Dresden supported the Nazi cause, they were also enemies of the Allied forces and subject to punishment by Allied war efforts. In my opinion, Vattel would have seen the bombing of Dresden as necessary “in order to humble and chastise the delinquents” (Christov, 2018, pg. 160).

Works Cited

Christov, T. (2018). Emer de vattel (1714-1767). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll (Eds.),

       Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (156-167). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

Glanville, L. (2018). Samuel pufendorf (1632-1694). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll (Eds.),

       Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (144-155). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

Luckhurst, T. (2020, February). Dresden: The world war two bombing 75 years on. BBC.com.

       Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51448486

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

November 10, 2021; May 27, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


Love Your Mother!


Gaia was the Greek goddess of the Earth who was born out of Chaos at the beginning of creation. Through her mating with Uranus, the celestial gods were born. Her dalliance with Pontos brought forth the sea gods. Through Tartaros, she birthed the giants. All humans and animals were created from her material being.

The Greeks viewed the Earth as a flat disk surrounded by a river. Overhead, the Earth was protected by a heavenly dome. Underneath, a deep pit formed the dome of the Underworld. Gaia was the Mother who nourished and nurtured the Earth and everything on it. The seas and mountains anchored securely on her great and abundant breasts.

Humans are not separate from nature. We are as dependent on Mother Earth for our sustenance as any other creature. But the human ego, pumped up by advanced technology, has deceived us into believing that we are above it all. We are so powerful, intelligent, and all-knowing, that we can control nature, the weather, and all aspects of the natural order. We are the Masters of the Universe, ready to hop onto the next spaceship to another planet. The problem is that we will take all of our problems and our egos with us.

In the 1970s, scientists claimed that the Earth was headed for another Ice Age and had all the data to back it up. So far, it hasn’t happened. They claimed that the Earth would run out of petroleum in 25 years. It never happened. They claimed that the Earth was going to be so over-populated in the future that famine would be widespread. Except for the political manipulation of politicians, this has not happened.

In the 1990s, we began to see books like The Coming Plague (1994) and The Coming Global Superstorm (1999) which predicted widespread existential threats like devastating disease and severe weather patterns that would wipe out the human race. No natural event has ever occurred in the history of mankind which had the capability to wipe out the entire human race. (Please note that I’m not talking about the dinosaurs here.) COVID was never virulent enough to rise to that occasion, as inconvenient and life-changing as it has been. (And there is no evidence that COVID originated from climate change, as some people are claiming. It could just as likely have originated from a lab, as some evidence suggests, or arisen naturally as a result of mutation, which is the most logical conclusion.) And, the wildfires, hurricanes, and tornados we have experienced have been contained as local events.

When scientists first labeled climate change as “global warming,” they neglected to explain to the general public how that actually works, and people were confused by what they actually experienced; so they re-labeled it as “climate change” to make it easier to understand. Essentially, it means that when one part of the planet grows warmer and changes the local environment, other changes occur in other parts of the planet – but NOT NECESSARILY THE SAME CHANGES. For example, record heat in one part of the planet may be accompanied by record cold in another part, even if the overall temperature of the planet has increased. Increased drought in one area may be accompanied by increased precipitation in another. Climate (long-term conditions) and weather (short-term conditions) involve much more than just temperature. Wind and ocean currents play a big part. An extreme event would be a sudden and unstoppable shift in climate. This scenario was touched upon in the movie The Day After Tomorrow (2004), where North America was suddenly covered with ice, and people were forced to migrate south to Mexico. (This movie, by the way, is based on the book, The Coming Global Superstorm.)

Our Mother Earth also has mechanisms in place to control population (disease, infertility, old age, predation, and natural death). The human ego is so out of control that we have come to a point where we believe that nobody should ever get sick and nobody should ever die. This attitude has been clearly evident during the COVID pandemic. One of the most important things I learned as a registered nurse and healthcare worker is that you can’t save everybody, and in fact, you shouldn’t save everybody. This sounds cold-hearted, but it’s a fact of life. The world is out of balance because of human interference in the natural order.

On Earth Day and everyday, remember and love your Mother – she who nourishes and sustains your very existence. But please don’t spread the seeds of hysteria, fear, panic, and anxiety. When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others began telling young people that we were all going to die in 12 years because of climate change, we began receiving young people into our inpatient mental health unit who were so distraught and eaten up with anxiety, paranoia, and fear that some of them were on the verge of suicide. Deliberately spreading this kind of fear-mongering rhetoric is irresponsible, cruel, and unacceptable. It’s pollution of a different sort.

Recycle what you can, plant trees, pick up litter, and keep your environment clean and free from as many toxins as possible. Work to help endangered species and places to thrive. Help clean up our oceans, rivers, and lakes. Conserve water! Reduce your use of plastic. Use energy-efficient vehicles, appliances, and lighting. Drive electric vehicles, if that’s your style, but remember that those batteries create toxic waste (ALL BATTERIES create toxic waste). Electronic computers, cellphones, and other devices also create toxic waste and use elements like lithium that have to be mined from the earth. Mining leads to erosion and deforestation. Convert to solar, wind, and all-electric, if you want. But remember that even these technologies have their environmental downside. For example, the breakdown of energy sources used to generate electricity is as follows, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration: natural gas 40%, nuclear energy 20%, renewable energy 20%, coal 19%, petroleum 1%. Using electricity does not eliminate fossil fuels and nuclear energy from the equation. Anybody who tells you otherwise (including politicians and climate activists) has not done their homework. Furthermore, humans and animals are carbon-based entities. Plants depend on CO2 to produce oxygen. We could never live in a carbon-free world because that, in itself, would be an existential threat.

On April 22, we honor our planet. Happy Earth Day!

Dawn Pisturino

April 21, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


Chevron’s Operational Excellence Management System

       Chevron is a transnational energy corporation with offices and projects all over the world.  The company takes great pride in conducting business according to its core values.  The company’s vision and mission statement, Business Conduct and Ethics code, and Operational Excellence Management System overview can be easily found on the company website and elsewhere on the Internet.

       The Chevron Way encompasses the company’s vision and mission statement.  Chevron’s vision is “to be the global energy company most admired for its people, partnerships, and performance” (Chevron, 2018; MBA Tutorials, 2020).  This vision reflects its core values “to conduct business in a socially responsible and ethical manner.  We respect the law, support universal human rights, protect the environment, and benefit the communities where we work” (Chevron, 2020; MBA Tutorials, 2020).

       In accordance with the Chevron Way, the company strives to safely and efficiently supply energy products to its customers all over the world; hire the best-qualified people; become the best-qualified and highest-performing organization for its partners; and earn the respect and admiration of all of its stakeholders (MBA Tutorials, 2020).

       Chevron’s Business Conduct and Ethics Code outlines for employees the values and high standards of the company.  As Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mike Wirth writes, “The Chevron Way is our touchstone for getting results the right way and establishes high standards for how we operate around the world” (Chevron, 2020).  The code emphasizes the company’s commitment to comply with the laws, regulations, and customs of every country in which it operates.  Violations can range from human rights to health and safety matters to bribery and fraud.  Consequently, the company encourages all employees to speak up about alleged violations of the code.  Since the company has a non-retaliation policy, employees who speak up in good faith are protected from retaliation by supervisors and peers (Chevron, 2020).

       In the United States, Chevron and other energy companies are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).  In 1994, DOT established the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to regulate the United States’ 2.6 million miles of oil and gas pipelines.  As of 2018, oil provided 40 percent of U.S. energy, and natural gas provided 25 percent (U.S. Department of Transportation, 2020).

       Pipelines are considered a transportation system because they transport oil and gas to residential, commercial, and industrial customers.  Transporting energy products through pipelines is considered the safest means of transport.  PHMSA regulates all types of pipelines: gathering lines, transmission pipelines, and distribution lines.  The agency is responsible for “regulating the safety of design, construction, testing, operation, maintenance, and emergency response of U.S. oil and natural gas pipeline facilities” (U.S. Department of Transportation, 2020).  Protecting human lives and the environment from pipeline safety hazards are the main focus of PHMSA (U.S. Department of Transportation, 2020).       

       Integrity Management is a program instituted by PHMSA that requires pipeline operators to analyze and understand the environment and population in the area where the pipeline exists. Operators must be able to foresee the consequences of a pipeline failure to the local environment and community.  This proactive approach to pipeline safety and emergency management helps operators to prioritize inspections and scheduled maintenance and keeps them well-prepared in the event of a pipeline failure (U.S. Department of Transportation, 2020).

       In addition to PHMSA, other federal agencies involved in pipeline safety and security are the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Department of Energy (DOE), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  State and local governments as well as industry experts also contribute to regulatory controls and standards.  Individual states must meet minimum federal safety regulations but can create stricter rules (U.S. Department of Transportation, 2020). 

       PHMSA’s Office of Pipeline Safety performs “field inspections of pipeline facilities and construction projects; inspections of operator management systems, procedures, and processes; and incident investigation” (U.S. Department of transportation, 2020).  When violations or safety hazards are found, the agency can force an operator to take corrective action (U.S. Department of Transportation, 2020).

       Operators of gas distribution systems must participate in the Gas Distribution Integrity Management Program (DIMP) which requires them to develop and put into practice a comprehensive integrity management program tailored to their individual distribution systems.  The purpose is to enhance safety by identifying risks, ranking them by severity, and implementing safety precautions to manage and eliminate those risks (U.S. Department of transportation, 2018).

       Chevron has developed a comprehensive Operational Excellence Management System which reflects its core values as a company.  Mike Wirth, Chairman of the Board and CEO, takes personal responsibility for the company’s performance.  His primary concern, when it comes to safety, is “to eliminate high-consequence personal and process safety events.  This means no fatalities or serious injuries and no fires, spills or explosions that can affect people or communities” (Chevron, 2018).

       Wirth’s focus is on three important areas: 1) understanding the safety risks involved in managing oil and gas operations; 2) identifying the safety measures needed to mitigate the risks; 3) implementing, maintaining, and improving those necessary safety measures (Chevron, 2018).

       The goals of Chevron’s Operational Excellence Management System are to protect “people and the environment” (Chevron, 2018), fulfill its mission “to be the global energy company most admired for its people, partnerships, and performance” (Chevron, 2018), and successfully manage “workforce safety and health, process safety, reliability and integrity, environment, efficiency, security, and stakeholders” (Chevron, 2018).

       To implement and maintain such a system requires the cooperation of all members of management and the workforce.  Everyone in the company must be accountable for their actions and the actions of others.  Everyone must be responsible for fostering a culture of safety and performance excellence (Chevron, 2018).

       Company accountability begins with its compliance with all health, environmental, and safety laws and regulations. Next, the company must comply with its own internal policies and procedures.  At the same time, company personnel must continually assess the company’s risk management program and make improvements as needed.  Assurance measures must be taken to ensure that safety precautions are kept in place to mitigate all identified risks.  The competency of the workforce must be kept up-to-date to ensure that quality management requirements are met.  The company must provide educational opportunities to keep the workforce informed of new policies, practices, and procedures.  The company must incorporate advanced technology into its operations to reduce the risk of human error.  Communication systems must be effective and reliable in order to convey information about potential chemical and biological safety hazards.  Contractors hired by the company must be in compliance with Chevron’s Business Conduct and Ethics Code and Operational Excellence Management System to maintain consistency and high-performance standards across the company.  There must be a competent system in place to report and investigate accidents; evaluate causes; implement new safety procedures; and communicate findings with management and the workforce.  Finally, an emergency management team must be prepared to respond at any time to a serious crisis that could harm property and human lives (Chevron, 2018).

       The reliability and integrity of wells, pipelines, and other facilities must be managed effectively to prevent safety hazards and operational losses.  Equipment must be inspected and maintained on a routine basis (Chevron, 2018).

       Chevron maintains a goal “to do business in environmentally responsible ways” (Chevron, 2018).  The company seeks to prevent all spills and accidental releases of gas and oil; to reduce air, water, and ground pollution; to conserve national resources and reduce greenhouse gases; to manage waste, especially waste produced by contractors; to dismantle company assets that are no longer used and restore the natural environment to its original pristine state.  The company keeps the public informed of its environmental management policies on its website (Chevron, 2018).

       Efficient use of energy and resources in order to drive down costs is an important part of Chevron’s Operational Excellence Management System.  Maintaining a secure physical and cyber environment prevents unnecessary and unwanted intrusions and safety hazards.  Engaging all stakeholders, including outside contractors, in the safety and performance goals of the company ensures that everyone connected with the company is on board (Chevron, 2018).

       The Operational Excellence Management System at Chevron depends on strong leaders and committed workers who are willing to work together as a team to implement, maintain, and improve the safeguards which mitigate risk.  “Typical safeguards include facility designs, mechanical devices, engineered systems, protective equipment, and execution of procedures” (Chevron, 2018).  Once risks are identified, personnel work together to eliminate them; create new policies and procedures to manage them; and provide personal protective equipment to protect workers from them (Chevron, 2018).

       Personnel are also expected to follow a code of conduct that was designed to reinforce safety and mitigate risk.  The two key tenets of this code are: “Do it safely or not at all” and “There is always time to do it right” (Chevron, 2018).  If all employees operate on a daily basis within the fundamental safety provisions of the Operational Excellence Management System, safety hazards should be minimized or avoided altogether (Chevron, 2018).

       Chevron’s website provides an excellent overview for the general public of its history, operations, financial status, environmental and safety management, ongoing projects, and vision for the future.  What it does not address are the real situations that come up and threaten the financial standing of the company and the Operational Excellence Management System it has put in place.

       The jewel in Chevron’s crown is the Gorgon Project, located off the coast of Western Australia.  Gorgon is one of the largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in the world, with the capacity to produce 15.6 million tonnes of LNG per year.  The processing facilities are located on a one percent section of Barrow Island, a Class A Nature Reserve.  Chevron has invested an enormous amount of time and resources into preserving the integrity of its pipelines, processing facilities, and the environmental standards of Barrow Island.  The company has set out to prove that an oil and gas company can successfully operate while respecting and preserving the local environment (Chevron Australia, 2020).  

       From its very beginning in 2009, the Gorgon Project has been plagued by failures, safety hazards, engineering challenges, and excessive costs.  Originally, the project was supposed to cost $US37 billion, and the first LNG was projected to be produced in 2014.  By the time the first load of LNG was produced and shipped off to Asia in 2016, the final cost came in at $US54 billion (Boiling Cold, 2020).

       In 2009, there was a strong worldwide demand for LNG.  In early 2016, the price of petroleum products had fallen, and there was an excessive supply of LNG on the market.  Chevron was under pressure to complete Gorgon and produce its first load of LNG.  In order to meet Chevron Chief Executive John Watson’s deadline, “untreated feed gas traveled from the Jansz-Io gas field wellheads, 1350 [meters] below sea level off the edge of the continental shelf, to Barrow island, 130 [kilometers] away” (Boiling Cold, 2020).  Once the gas was treated and ready for cooling, “the feed gas ran through [a propane cooler] on a separate circuit” (Boiling Cold, 2020).  The propane gas in the cooler circulated “back to the compressor through a knockout drum” (Boiling Cold, 2020).  Nearly three weeks later, the fourth knockout drum failed, damaging the compressor.  Production was halted for three months (Boiling Cold, 2020).

       Chevron released a statement more than a week later that the failure would only require routine repairs, and all equipment and materials were available at the facilities.  In reality, the propane compressor was flown to Perth for repairs.  Three months after the failure, Chevron had not reported it to the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP), the safety regulator for the Barrow Island LNG plant (Boiling Cold, 2020).

       In August 2016, Chevron finally met with DMP officials to discuss the incident.  Chevron provided an analysis of what led up to the incident.  The most serious violation was the failure of workers to follow the company’s safety code and stop the cooling process when the propane compressor began to vibrate excessively (Boiling Cold, 2020).

       Another significant issue was the failure by engineers and operating technicians to evaluate and identify possible safety hazards with the plant’s start-up operation and then take measures to make changes to the design or procedures to mitigate risks (Boiling Cold, 2020).

       Other violations included workers with inadequate knowledge to start up the plant, fuzzy management responsibilities, and insufficient technical resources to deal with a problem (Boiling Cold, 2020).

       Chevron took corrective measures to fix the problems and satisfy the requirements set forth by the DMP, then issued a public statement to assure the public that they had taken action to ensure the safety of all people working at the plant (Boiling Cold, 2020).

       Part of Chevron’s environmental agreement with Western Australia was “to capture and store underground 40 percent of the [Gorgon] plant’s emissions through a sophisticated process known as geosequestration or carbon capture and storage” (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2018).  Chevron proudly brags about its CO2 injection project on its website.  But the reality shows something different.

       Chevron promised that between 5.5 and 8 million tonnes of CO2 would be injected into its underwater carbon storage project in the first two years of production on Barrow Island.  But seal failures and problems with corrosion delayed the CO2 injection project, leaving the Federal Government of Australia $AU60 million dollars poorer. As a result, all the gains in lower CO2 emissions made by the widespread use of solar power were wiped out.  A spokesperson for Chevron stated, “Our focus is on the safe commissioning and start-up of the carbon dioxide injection project and achieving a high percentage of injection over the 40-year life of the Gorgon project” (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2018).

       Chevron’s CO2 injection project was approved by Premier Colin Barnett on September 14, 2009. “The Barrow Island Act was the first legislation regulating carbon dioxide storage (geosequestration) in the world” (Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, 2019).  The project started injecting CO2 into the Dupuy Formation, a geological layer located more than two kilometers beneath Barrow Island, in August 2019.  Since then, the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety has been monitoring the project, making sure that Chevron stays in compliance with the Barrow Island Act and its Pipeline License (Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, 2019).

       When Chevron’s carbon dioxide system successfully started up in August 2019, Chevron Australia issued a press release reassuring the Australian public that it would continue to monitor all safety issues and fulfill its promise to reduce the Gorgon plant’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent over the 40-year life of the project (Chevron Australia, 2019).

       When the coronavirus spread around the world early in 2020, the slumping oil and gas industry was hit with more problems.  The economic lockdowns put in place to stop the spread of the virus kept people at home, causing a backlog in equipment and parts orders, and a slowdown in preventative maintenance and repairs on wells, transmission pipelines, refineries, and gas distribution systems (Reuters, 2020).

       In order to cut costs, companies like Chevron and ExxonMobil began laying off workers, putting off maintenance and repair projects, and delaying start-up projects.  This put established wells, pipelines, refineries, and gas distribution systems at risk for future failure and safety hazards (Reuters, 2020).

       In July 2020, it was reported by the Australian media that routine maintenance at Barrow Island had uncovered thousands of cracks in eight propane kettles that had been sitting in storage for several years.  These kettles had been scheduled to be installed on LNG Train 2.  It has been speculated that the cracks were caused by water penetrating the thermal insulation surrounding the vessels.  The insulation was installed by overseas construction firms and then shipped to Australia (Boiling Cold, 2020).

       While repairing the cracks in the eight propane kettles, workers at Chevron discovered defective welds in those same kettles.  Executive Vice-President Jay Johnson told investment analysts that the defects occurred during the manufacturing process and not because they were poorly designed.  He claimed that repairs would be sufficient to make the vessels safe (Boiling Cold, 2020).

       Safety measures were put in place to mitigate risks in LNG Trains 1 and 3, but Chevron refused to reveal what those safety measures were or how workers would be safe while repairing LNG Train 2 (Boiling Cold, 2020).

       The company suffered a $US8.3 billion loss in the second quarter of 2020 due to problems at the Gorgon Project.  And it refused to explain how the 16 propane-filled kettles still operating were safe without being inspected for cracks and weld defects (Boiling Cold, 2020).

       In September, Chevron reported that it had given incorrect instructions to welders repairing the eight propane kettles on LNG Train 2.  Authorized personnel had neglected to inform welders that a post-weld heat treatment needed to be done, subjecting the weld to more cracking and failure (Boiling Cold, 2020).

       More delays in repairs have cost Chevron and its partners more than $AU500 million.  The continued problems at Gorgon have worried union leaders and workers alike.  The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety “gave Chevron permission to continue operating [LNG] Trains 1 and 3 under a plan where Train 1 would close for inspection of its kettles in early October and Train 3 would shut down in early January [2021]” (Boiling Cold, 2020).

       The company error occurred simultaneously with the final phase of its plan to lay off 20 to 30 percent of its Australian workforce due to losses incurred from COVID-19 lockdowns, a slumping oil and gas industry, and the expensive problems at Gorgon Project.  If repairs need to be done on Trains 1 and 3, the company will incur even more losses.  In order to recover some of its losses, Chevron plans to sell between $US5 billion and $US10 billion worth of assets (Boiling Cold, 2020).

       Publicly, Chevron does what it needs to do to keep a shining reputation, but the reality is a much different story.  Chevron’s lofty goals for itself magnify every mistake that it makes, from environmental violations to engineering and operational errors to investment losses.  Although  basically a sound company and a worthy employer, Chevron is in a tough position due to stricter environmental standards, COVID-19 restrictions, a slumping industry, and forces lined up against the use of fossil fuels.


Chevron. (2020). Chevron business conduct and ethics code. Retrieved from



Chevron. (2018). Chevron operational excellence management system. Retrieved from

Chevron Australia. (2019). Safe start up and operation of the carbon dioxide injection system at

       the gorgon natural gas facility. Retrieved from https://australia.chevron.com/


Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. (2019). Gorgon carbon dioxide injection

       project. Retrieved from https://www.dmp.wa.gov.au/Petroleum/Gorgon-CO2-injection-


Diss, K. (2018, June). How the gorgon gas plant could wipe out a year’s worth of australia’s

       solar emissions savings. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved from



MBA Tutorials. (2020). Chevron mission and vision statement. Retrieved from

Milne, P. (2020, July). Gorgon’s catastrophic start-up. Boiling Cold. Retrieved from


Milne, P. (2020, July). Cracks at chevron’s gorgon threaten safety and lng production.

       Boiling Cold. Retrieved from https://www.boilingcold.com.au/cracks-at-chevrons-gorgon-


Milne, P. (2020, August). Gorgon weld problems raise safety questions chevron will not answer.

       Boiling Cold. Retrieved from https://www.boilingcold.com.au/gorgon-weld-problems-raise-


Milne, P. (2020, September). Chevron to redo its botched gorgon weld repairs. Boiling Cold.

       Retrieved from https://www.boilingcold.com.au/chevron-to-redo-its-botched-gorgon-weld-


Milne, P. (2020, November). Chevron to restart gorgon lng train after $500m production loss.

       Retrieved from https://www.boilingcold.com.au/chevron-to-restart-gorgon-lng-train-after-


U.S. Department of Transportation. (2020). About phmsa. Retrieved from


U.S. Department of Transportation. (2018). Gas distribution integrity management. Retrieved

       from https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/technical-resources/pipeline/gas-distribution-integrity-   


Yagova, O., George, L., Bozorgmehr, S. (2020, May). Coronavirus creates repair headache for

       Oil and gas industry. Reuters. Retrieved from



Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 16, 2020; April 20, 2022

Copyright 2020-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment »

Geological Expertise in Oil and Gas Exploration

(Graphic from Oil & Gas Portal)

Geologists use a variety of tools to discover underground pockets of crude oil and natural gas. Without their expertise, the oil and gas industry would not exist.


The first thing geologists must determine is the location of geological formations that can trap oil and gas underground. They do this by determining what kind of sedimentary rocks form the reservoir and what kind of chemical elements are present in the rocks. If sandstones and carbonates are present, this is a good indication that ancient organic matter once existed in that area which decayed and formed hydrocarbons. The hydrocarbons became trapped underground in the form of crude oil and natural gas (Busby, 1999, p. 15).

Geological methods include drawing maps of the surface and subsurface region and gathering rock samples.

Topographical maps in 2-D and 3-D visualize layers of rock and the horizontal and vertical placement of those layers. Rock formations are given a two-part name, the geographical location, which is usually the name of the nearby town, and the predominant type of rock (Busby, 1999, p. 19).

Subsurface maps include three elements: structural, which shows the elevation of rock layers; isopach, which indicates thickness; and lithofacies, which reveal variations in a single layer of rock (Busby, 1999, p. 20).

When geologists take rock samples, they extract samples from the core and gather “cuttings” (rock chips) for “assessing the formation’s lithology, hydrocarbon content, and ability to hold and produce gas” (Busby, 1999, p. 20). If they can figure out how the rock layers were formed, they can determine if the conditions were right for “the generation, accumulation, and trapping of hydrocarbons” (Busby, 1999, p. 21).

Geochemical methods use chemical and bacterial analyses of soil and water samples from the surface and the area around underground gas and oil deposits to determine the presence of hydrocarbons. “Micro-seeps” of petroleum can be detected in this way (Busby, 1999, p. 21).

Vitrinite reflectance uses a reflectance microscope to measure the percentage of light which is reflected from vitrinite (plant organic matter found in shale). The percentage can indicate the presence of gas and oil (Busby, 1999, p. 21).

Geophysical methods use sound waves (seismic vibration) to “determine the depth, thickness, and structure of subsurface rock layers and whether they are capable of trapping natural gas and crude oil” (Busby, 1999, p. 22). Computers are used to gather and analyze the data. Geologists can now use 2D, 3D, and 4D seismic imaging in their analysis (Natural Gas, 2013).

On land, explosives and vibrations are used to generate sound waves. The energy that bounces off the rock layers is detected as echoes by sensors called geophones (jugs) (Busby, 1999, p. 23).

Bright spots and flat spots can reveal where deposits of gas-oil and gas-water deposits might exist underground. Amplitude variation with offset (AVO) and geology related imaging programs (GRIP) can enhance the resolution and analysis of bright spots (Busby, 1999, p. 24).

“Cross-well” seismic technology uses seismic energy in one well and sensors in nearby wells to retrieve high-resolution images that have been used successfully in determining the presence of crude oil. It is now being used in natural gas exploration (Busby, 1999, p. 24).

Gravity meters are used to detect salt domes and other rock formations capable of trapping gas and oil. Magnetometers detect the thickness of basement rock and find faults. Computer models create hypothetical pictures of subsurface structures from mathematical computations (Busby, 1999, p. 25).


Once geologists determine the geological and economic feasibility of drilling a well, a group of geologists, geophysicists, and engineers pinpoint the site for the well and its potential reservoir. They decide how deep the well should be. The average well is about 5,800 feet deep in the United States. The drilling company must then get permission to drill from the owners of the land and determine who owns the mineral rights.  They sign a lease to use the land for a certain length of time.  The drilling company then breaks ground (spudding) and keeps well logs (measurements) to determine the possibility of gas and oil formation and the porosity and permeability of the rock. The contractors who own the drilling rigs sign an agreement to drill to a certain depth and detail what equipment they will need. A pit is dug at the site and lined with plastic that holds unnecessary materials (Busby, 1999, p. 29-30).

Rotary drills, driven by a diesel engine, are the most common type of drill used because they can drill hundreds and even thousands of feet per day. The drill bit must be changed after 40 to 60 hours of drilling. Other drilling techniques include directional drilling, which allows drilling in multiple directions, horizontal drilling, which is used to enhance gas recovery and to inject fracturing fluids, and offshore drilling, which uses special equipment to drill in ocean water (Busby, 1999, p. 31-35).

Some of the drilling problems that come up include drilling a dry hold; a breakage inside the well; things falling into the well; and high pressures underground causing gas or water to flow into the well, changing the balance of the pressure in the well. Drilling must be halted then and the problem corrected (Busby, 1999, p.33).

Geologists use various tests to measure the probability that the well will produce enough oil and gas. Drilling-time measurements measure the rate of the bit’s penetration into the rock; mud logs measure the chemistry of mud and rock cuttings, looking for traces of gas; wireline logs sense electrical, radioactive, and sonic properties of rocks and fluids; electrical logs test rock for resistivity; gamma ray logs measure radioactivity; neutron logs measure rock density; caliper logs test the type of rock; dip logs look for the placement of rock layers; sonic/acoustic velocity logs measure the speed at which sound travels through rock. Traditionally, these tests were conducted on bare, uncased wells. But new technology allows testing to be done with the casing in place (Busby, 1999, p. 36-37).

If the well comes up dry, the well is plugged up and abandoned. If the well holds promise of a productive well, the bare well is “cased, or lined with metal pipe to seal it from the rock” (Busby, 1999, p.29). A foundation of cement is created. Then the casing is drilled with holes so gas can flow into the well. The flow rate of the gas is measured, and if productive, valves and fittings are installed in order to control the flow. Oil and gas products are separated at the wellhead. A gathering system is built after several wells are completed. Flow lines gather gas from several wells and transport it to a centralized processing facility (Busby, 1999, p. 37-38).


“The pipeline industry carries natural gas from producers in the field to distribution companies and to some large industrial customers” (Busby, 1999, p. 43) through large pipes with high pressures, from 500 to 1,000 psi or 3,400 to 6,900 psi). Compressor stations along the lines maintain the pressures in the pipes. “As of the 1990s, more than 300,000 miles of gas pipelines criss-cross the United States, serving nearly 60 million gas customers” (Busby, 1999, p. 43).

Pipes are laid in trenches and coated inside with chemicals to prevent corrosion, improve light reflection, reduce water retention, reduce absorption of gas odorants, and to improve gas flow (Busby, 1999, p. 46-47).

Gas demand depends on weather, the season, and its use in power generation. Pipeline operators try to spread the costs over the whole year. Gas meters are used “to reduce costs and increase the accuracy of gas flow measurement” (Busby, 1999, p. 51).

Pipeline inspection and maintenance have to be done on a regular basis to detect gas leaks, address corrosion, repair damage, and to keep the gas flowing smoothly (Busby, 1999, p.  51-53).

Economic Concerns

During exploration, there is no guarantee that all the money spent on research, testing, and drilling will be recouped. If a well is productive, royalties must be paid to the owner of the mineral rights after all production costs are paid. State and federal governments regulate how many wells can exist per 640 acres and how much gas and oil can be produced over a certain time period. Offshore drilling, which has become more common, is very expensive because these oil rigs use special equipment and can drill as deep as 10,400 feet. When wells are losing pressure and running dry, companies must spend money on well stimulation. In fact, companies give priority to this because it costs less than exploring for new wells. It’s been estimated that the oil and gas companies spend roughly $5 billion on treating natural gas before it is ever transmitted through a pipeline. Pipelines and compressor stations must be built, inspected, repaired, and maintained. Environmental regulations cost companies money on research and new technologies (Busby, 1999, p. 15-54).

If oil and gas supplies diminish or are suddenly cut off, access to energy is decreased, and costs sky-rocket. When pipelines break or oil rigs are damaged or destroyed, this causes a disruption in the oil and gas supply. If the disruption lasts long enough, it can raise costs to the consumer. Political conflicts affect oil and gas supplies, energy costs, and the ability of companies to find new sources (Busby, 1999, p.15-54).

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

October 22, 2020; March 18, 2022

Copyright 2020-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved!

Busby, R.L. (Ed.). (1999). Natural Gas in Nontechnical Language. Tulsa, OK: PennWell.

Natural Gas. (2013). Natural gas and the environment. Retrieved from



Humanitarian Aid and Peacekeeping in Somalia, 1992-1994

(Famine in Somalia, December 13, 1992. Photo by Yannis Behrakis, REUTERS.)

Jean Bethke Elshtain’s book, Women and War, insisted that “the roles men and women play in war are represented and narrated in the stories we tell about ourselves” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 218). Women are represented as “beautiful souls” and men as “just warriors,” but ethicist Elshtain felt that this was too simplistic and that the roles were “more ambiguous and complex” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 218) in reality. She believed that St. Augustine had the best understanding of humans and their relationship to war and peace because he saw that humans are fragile and limited in their ability to control the world and human impulses. She further elaborates on this theme in Augustine and the Limits of Politics. (Rengger, 2018, pg. 218-220) By the time she wrote Just War Against Terror, she was convinced that the United States had to embrace its role of most powerful nation and step up to the plate to address terrorism (Rengger, 2018, pg. 220,221).

Based on her beliefs, I believe she would have encouraged the United States’ involvement in Somalia. In an interview with Dissent magazine (2005), she said:

“Beginning with that principle of equal regard, faced with a terrible situation, an enormity, one is obliged to think about what is happening, and to conclude that the people dying are human beings and as such equal in moral regard to us. So we are then obliged to consider this horrible situation and think about whether there is something we can do to stop it. Would the use of force make a difference in this situation? Minimally you are obliged to do that. Perhaps the use of force would not. But one must not just evade the question. Another minimal requirement is that if you have decided that you can’t intervene you are obliged to explain why that is, in light of the principle of equal moral regard.”

However, she would have recognized our limitations and possibilities for human inadequacy when dealing with the situation in Somalia.

The Role of the United Nations and the United States in Somalia

In 1969, Mohamed Siad Barre came to power in Somalia through a military coup. The regime became more and more repressive, and opposition forces removed him from office in January 1991. “The country descended into chaos, and a humanitarian crisis of staggering proportions began to unfold” (Department of State, 2021, pg. 1). The Somali people faced “the combination of civil war, a famine after a poor harvest, and a prolonged drought” (Mugabi, 2018, pg. 2).

The United Nations and the United States attempted to aid the Somali people in 1992, but “intense fighting between the warlords impeded the delivery of aid to those who needed it most, and so the United Nations contemplated stronger action” (Department of State, 2021, pg. 2).

“There was a fairly lengthy period in which preventative diplomacy and the focused attention of the international community could have headed off the catastrophe in Somalia” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 5). The United Nations and the international community could have engaged in diplomatic negotiations when: 1) the Somali National Movement (SNM) was repressed by Barre in 1988 and the situation exposed by Amnesty International and Africa Watch; 2) the Manifesto Group arose in 1990 and suggestions by the Inter-African Group “that the UN appoint a special envoy to conduct ‘shutter diplomacy’ in the Horn” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6) were squashed; 3) Barre left office in January 1991 with no replacement government in place and the UN declined to get involved until a year later, when it passed its first resolution on Somalia (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6).

From January to March 1992, UN resolutions “called for an arms embargo and increased humanitarian aid, and urged the parties to agree to a cease-fire, which they did through an UN-sponsored meeting in New York in February” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6). In April, the Security Council approved UNOSOM, which “was intended to provide humanitarian help and facilitate the end of hostilities in Somalia” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6). However, these efforts met with resistance from warlord militia leaders Aideed and Ali Mahdi. In August, Operation Provide Relief was implemented which authorized the United States to deliver humanitarian aid and bring in five hundred peacekeepers (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7). Later, a Hundred Day Plan was devised to bring together UN agencies and NGOs to deliver aid, but continued violence interfered with the plan (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7).

Bureaucracy at the United Nations also held up operations. “Food and medicine could not be distributed because of looting . . . [and] famine intensified as the civil war continued” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7). People around the world reacted emotionally to the famine in Somalia, and “President George [H.W.] Bush announced the initiation of Operation Restore Hope” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7) on December 4, 1992. The United Task Force (UNITAF) was “a multinational coalition of military units under the command and control of the American military” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 8) authorized by a United Nations resolution (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 8). UNITAF’s goal was to provide “security in the service of humanitarian ends for a brief period” (United States Institute of Peace. 1994, pg. 8) in compliance with Chapter VII of the United Nations charter and allowed the use of force (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 8-11).

Unfortunately, conflicts arose between the United Nations and UNITAF which impeded the efficiency of these efforts. Secretary General Boutros Ghali insisted on nationwide disarmament in Somalia with the United States in charge of implementation, but UNITAF refused. The task force was more interested in a cease-fire.  The UN also insisted on top-down reconstruction of the country, whereas the United States believed that reconstruction should begin at the local level. The UN refused to take long-term responsibility in the operation, insisting that UNITAF held that responsibility. The United States countered “that the project was limited not only in scope but in time, and that when certain humanitarian and security goals had been met, responsibility for Somalia would be turned back over to a ‘regular UN peacekeeping force’” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 10). When Ghali created the peacekeeping force, UNOSOM II, the United States agreed to participate (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 9,10).

On May 4, 1993, UNOSOM II assumed all military responsibilities in Somalia and became “the first UN peacekeeping force authorized under the provisions of Chapter VII of the UN charter” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 11). The new goal for the force was rebuilding Somalia and safeguarding the peace.

After Aideed and his soldiers killed twenty-four Pakistani and three American peacekeepers, the United Nations and United States agreed to go after Aideed. The effort resulted in the raid of Mogadishu on October 3, 1993, which killed eighteen American soldiers. By the end of March 1994, all U.S. troops had been withdrawn from Somalia (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 12).

Responsibility of the International Community

The United Nations had a definite responsibility to address the humanitarian crisis in Somalia and to make an attempt to end the violence. This is the designated function of the United Nations. People around the world, shocked by the starvation in Somalia, were demanding action. The United States, as the most powerful country with the most resources, was obligated to get involved. Politically and morally, it was the right thing to do.

Jean Bethke Elshtain, as a proponent of St. Augustine and his writings, would have supported it because Augustine stressed love of neighbor and extending charity to others. To ignore the situation would have been immoral and inhuman.

The problem with Somalia isn’t that nations got involved. The problem is that the fierceness and tenacity of the warlord militias was underestimated, and bureaucracy and internal disagreements were allowed to undermine the operation, as outlined by the United States Institute of Peace. But both St. Augustine and Elshtain would have recognized that humans are imperfect creatures living in an imperfect world, and as such, there is only so much we can do to contain and control chaos.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 15, 2021; March 11, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited

Department of State. Office of the Historian. (2021). Milestones: 1993-2000: Somalia,

       1992-1993. Department of State. Retrieved from


Dissent, The Editors. (2005, Summer). Interview with jean bethke elshtain. Dissent. Retrieved

       from http://www.dissentmagazine.org/wp-content/files_mf/1390329368d1Interview.pdf

Mugabi, I. (2018, December). Opinion: How George h.w. bush’s failed somalia intervention

       shaped us-africa ties. DW. Retrieved from



Rengger, N. (2018). Jean bethke elshtain (1941-2013). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll

       (Eds.), Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (216-226). Abingdon, Oxon:  


Special Report. (1994). Restoring hope: The real lessons of Somalia for the future of                                                                                                                                       

       intervention. United states institute of peace. Retrieved from



II. A Soul in Anguish – a Poem

(Artwork by Michelangelo)

II. A Soul in Anguish

by Dawn Pisturino

A soul apart from God
Is a soul in anguish,
Lost in the wilderness,
Out of touch with its own creator.
Like a child without its mother,
It cannot function on its own.
Creator and created: they are one,
Inseparable, indivisable;
And when one is lost,
All is lost.

I need my Lord, my God,
Every day of my life
To give me courage and strength;
To fight the invisible
Battle of life
And resign myself to death;
He IS Life
And He IS death:
I do not agree
With all He is or does,
But He is all, everything, there is.
I cannot argue
With His greatness
Or doubt His power and strength;
He may be wrong or right,
But He is,
And I cannot close my eyes to that.
The tall mountain rises into the sky
And I see His majesty before me;
The tiny flower in the grass,
And it is his tenderness;
Man may have proven to be
But all else, at least, is perfect,
Fits into a logical order,
And intertwines beautifully
With each other.
Man stands on the outside of the puzzle
Seeking answers, seeking answers,
And making the picture more complicated.

God is good and He is bad,
He kills his enemies and makes
Innocent people to suffer;
He draws the darkness of night
Around the big, wide world,
And causes the sunshine to fall.

And I will fight Him as I love him,
And I will fight for what is right,
Unto the death,
       As He would.

Dawn Pisturino
1985; March 8, 2022
Copyright 1985-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


I. A World in Anguish – a Poem

(Photo from Pixabay)

A World in Anguish

by Dawn Pisturino

A world in anguish

Is a world at war,

Suffering the throes of poverty,

Living in fear,

Desperate for freedom

From unfeeling despots;

One man kills another

And crowds cheer for more:

A bloody holocaust screams

The victory cry.

Women weep for children

Dying in the womb,

And fathers beat

Their screaming brats in rage,

Placating the demon-gods.

The dark-faced villain

In the streets

Pushes his deadly wares

To the wayward and unsuspecting,

Supplies the knowing,

And murders the human spirit.

The Godly are intimidated

By the unholy-ungodly

And cry out in vain for vengeance.

God does not hear

Or does not want to.

“Let them fight their own battles,”

He must say; and looks down

In amusement at the skirmish of ants

Crawling in the streets.

It is not a funny sight, no,

But a sorry commentary

On the uselessness of the human species.

God Himself must weep

At the awful destruction wrought

By pitiful creatures.

It is not worth His powerful strength

To save them or His loving heart

To love them or His abounding mercy

To forgive them.

Let those who will survive, survive.

Death to the others.

The battle is just begun.

Dawn Pisturino

September 20, 1985; March 7, 2022

Copyright 1985-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


Cicero’s Three Tenets for Just War

(Marcus Tullius Cicero)

It is difficult to determine just when the just war idea began. Aristotle used the phrase, “just war” (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 4), but it is Cicero who developed a “systematic ethical project” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 8) around the concept of just war.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BCE – 43 BCE) grew up in a wealthy Roman family, acquired a good education, and worked his way up the ladder to achieve the high political status of Consul. When Catiline tried to seize power over Rome by force, “Cicero had five of the conspirators executed without trial and was thereafter hailed as ‘the father of his country’” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 9). His experiences helped to shape his ideas about just war.

Cicero tried to place an emphasis on “virtuous behavior” (Stewart, 2018, pg.8) based on the principles of natural law. He believed that all civilized nations were bound by the same law and that “the god will be the one common master and general (so to speak) of all people” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 11). He expected all civilized nations to follow a course of laws, morals, and ethics that reflected the will of God. Following the will of God would lead nations to make the best decisions.

Out of this came Cicero’s idea of the “ideal statesman” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 14, 17, 18) who would have the wisdom to discern the difference between the justice of war and the necessity of war. After a thorough analysis, an ideal statesman would decide when conflict could be solved by diplomacy and debate, and when the use of force would be necessary. He would base his decision on what was best to ensure the safety and survival of the Roman Empire.

He developed three maxims:

     Jus ad bellum covered the justification for the use of force.

     Jus in bellum outlined the limitations imposed in the use of force.

     Jus post bellum offered guidelines about how to deal with participants after a war was over.  

          (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 1).

If we adhere to Cicero’s idea about the ideal statesman then jus ad bellum is the most important. The decisions that leaders make can determine the fate of the whole nation. If they make wrong decisions out of a “selfish passion” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 15) for glory and ambition, justice has not been done, and the whole nation may suffer.

In order to justify the use of force, there must be a legitimate reason to declare war. Roman officials must have the authority (right thinking and right intention) to declare war. The decision to go to war must come as a last resort. There must be a high probability of a successful resolution. And the use of force must lead to more benefits than harm to society (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 1).

The use of force in war will be limited to what needs to be done to defeat the other side.  It must never exceed the purpose of its use. It must only be aimed at “legitimate targets” (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 1). Discrimination in the use of force must be exercised by military leaders to achieve the objective and nothing more.

After the conflict is over, the winner must decide what to do with the survivors and post-war plunder. Can peace be restored? Has justice been done? Have grievances been resolved? The winner is responsible for restoring balance and harmony in the region and making sure that humanitarian efforts are made to help the survivors recover. This fulfills the principles of beneficence and honor (Stewart, 2018, pg. 13).

If peace cannot be restored and a nation continues to be a threat to the survival of the Roman Empire, Cicero concludes that necessity overrules justice and beneficence and complete annihilation is justified (Stewart, 2018, pg. 14-16).

Rome was a militarized society. Cicero served in the military and never discounted the inevitability of war. He believed in ius gentium (international obligations between nations) (Stewart, 2018, pg. 9). These international relations involved treaties and agreements made in “good faith” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 10). Broken treaties and other wrongs were justification for the use of force. But Cicero insisted that there were acceptable limits when following a path of revenge and retribution (Stewart, 2018, pg. 12). He believed that there were duties owed to the people who broke good faith and were defeated in battle (Stewart, 2018, pg. 13). This, for him, is what defined justice.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

October 6, 2021; March 4, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Brunstetter, D.R., & O’Driscoll, C. (Ed.). (2018). Just war thinking: From cicero to the 21st  

     century. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Stewart, G. (2018). Marcus tullius cicero (106 BCE – 43 BCE). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll

     (Eds.), Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (8-19). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.


Foreign Non-Intervention: Soviet Invasion of Hungary, 1956

In light of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, it seems appropriate to remind people that Russian Premier Nikita Krushchev invaded Hungary in 1956 in a similar way when the Imre Nagy regime began to institute democratic reforms and pull away from the Soviet Union.

On October 22, 1956, student protests began in Budapest, and a list of sixteen demands were adopted which included the complete withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary, free elections, free speech, workers’ rights, and a multi-party political system. By 6:00 pm, 200,000 to 300,000 people had joined the protest. At 9:30 pm, the statue of Stalin was overturned.

The next night, around 9:00 pm, tear gas bombs were thrown into the crowd of protestors, and State Security Police (AVH) began firing into the crowd. A number of people were killed and wounded. The infuriated crowd attacked other AVH police who arrived wearing white doctors’ coats. At first, Hungarian forces came to the aid of the AVH and then sided with the protestors.

In other parts of Budapest, workers drove through the city, snatching up weapons and firearms wherever they could find them. Many soldiers voluntarily gave over their firearms to the protestors.

In the early hours of October 24th, protestors seized and occupied the Radio Building and then were driven out. Again, AVH police fired into a crowd of unarmed protestors, further infuriating the people. Armed protestors fought back against the AVH and seized the newspaper building. At 2:00 am, Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest.

The important thing to understand is that the Soviet Union had already been planning to invade Hungary before the protests began. The invasion was intended to overthrow Premier Imre Nagy’s government and to install a more cooperative Soviet puppet in his place.

Neither the United Nations nor the United States intervened to help the people of Hungary, before, during, or after the invasion. And, so far, this is holding true for the people of Ukraine.


Immanuel Kant, the United Nations, and International Law

Philosopher Immanuel Kant, who despaired in his lifetime that “there [was] no reliable or effective international authority” to prevent war, could not foresee that in the future there would exist the League of Nations and then the United Nations. These organizations arose in the aftermath of World War I and World War II to provide a forum for nations to come together and discuss their differences in order to prevent world war.  The United Nations, in my opinion, has not been very effective in dealing with international conflicts. It does, however, have a good track record of attempting to provide humanitarian aid to countries wracked by internal conflict and natural disasters.

“The UN Charter recognizes self-defense as the only legitimate use of force (although only until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to ensure international peace and security, Article 51)” (Brown, 2018, pg. 209). And since the time of Kant, we have established “the Law of Armed Conflict (also known as International Humanitarian Law), that is, the Geneva and Hague Treaties and the accompanying Protocols” (Brown, 2018, pg. 209). The international community has come together to set rules to limit and prevent war. But, the United Nations and other organizations seem very ineffective. Conflicts never seem to get resolved, and human rights abuses continue without redress. Situations drag on for years with no resolution, leading to a different kind of war – prolonged conflict.

Michael Walzer’s Arguments against Foreign Intervention

Just war theorist Michael Walzer believes that nations have autonomy to decide for themselves, regardless of the form of government they have embraced. “Outsiders are obliged to assume that whatever form of government exists reflects the wishes of the people concerned; even if pro-democracy movements are suppressed, as long as the society has not collapsed into civil war and insurrection, it has to be presumed that there is a ‘fit’ between government and people . . . the only real circumstances in which outsiders would be entitled (although not obliged) to intervene would be in the case of genocide or mass enslavement” (Brown, 2018, pg.211).

Clearly, the Hungarian people wanted their freedom and were prepared to fight and die to get it. Clearly, Premier Imre Nagy tried to institute reforms, limit the Soviet Union’s influence in Hungary, and create a free Hungarian State. Clearly, there was no “fit” between the Hungarian people and their Soviet oppressors. From Walzer’s point of view, then, the Hungarian people were exercising their right to autonomy, and the United States should have offered assistance if our leaders were sincere about fighting totalitarianism and helping oppressed people to gain their freedom. Since the Voice of America had been broadcasting this message to the Hungarian people and “approximately 30,000 Hungarian refugees were allowed to enter the United States” (History, 2021, pg. 3), President Dwight D. Eisenhower should have offered some sort of assistance. To just stand by and offer sympathy was hypocritical.

And where was the United Nations in all of this? I have found no indication that the United Nations tried to intervene. Indeed, it wasn’t until 1957 that the UN compiled a report on the Soviet invasion of Hungary and its causes. According to the report, “Consideration of the Hungarian question by the United Nations was legally proper and paragraph 7 of Article 2 of the Charter does not justify objections to such consideration. A massive armed intervention by one Power on the territory of another with the avowed intention of interfering in its internal affairs must, by the Soviet Union’s own definition of aggression, be a matter of international concern” (United Nations, 1957, pg. 31).

The United Nations Special Committee determined, after the fact, that the Hungarian national uprising was spontaneous in nature, with Hungarians wanting to be free of Soviet oppression and rule; the protestors demanded an independent, democratic socialist government; the protest occurred in reaction to Poland’s efforts to gain independence from the Soviet Union; the Soviets were already making plans for an armed invasion as early as October 20, 1956; the initial protests of October 23, 1956 were peaceful until the AVH (State Security Police) opened fire onto the crowds; rumors circulated that Nagy had requested help from the Soviets, which turned out to be false; rumors also circulated that Kadar had requested Soviet troop intervention during the second round of protests, which turned out to be false; the real power was in the hands of the Revolutionary and Workers’ Councils – not Nagy; after the first few days of freedom, freedom of speech was established, with the support of the people; reported lynchings and beatings were carried out by members of the AVH (State Security Police); negotiations were conducted between the Nagy government and the Soviet Union for full withdrawal; the Workers’ Councils began initiating the reforms demanded by the people and life was returning to normal; the Hungarian people’s human rights “were violated by the Hungarian Governments before 23 October, especially up to the autumn of 1955, and such violations have been resumed since 4 November” (United Nations, 1957, pg. 31); Hungarian citizens were deported to the U.S.S.R. in order to suppress the uprising; Hungarians showed no support for the Kadar government, which reinstated Soviet-style repression and totalitarianism and put elections on hold; negotiations on Soviet troop withdrawals were suspended; and 190,000 Hungarians sought asylum in other countries, with most refusing to return (United Nations, 1957, pg. 31).

The Hungarian people had chosen freedom and the kind of government they wanted, and their newly-won liberation was subverted by outsiders who would not intervene after “Budapest Radio broadcast its last message before going off the air . . . an appeal to the writers and scientists of the world to help the people of Hungary” (United Nations, 1957, pg. 26). But this aligns with Walzer’s philosophy of limitations on foreign intervention, to the detriment of the Hungarian people.  And that means that I cannot agree with him.

What Role could the U.S. have Played in Hungary

It is clear from the United Nations report that the Soviet Union was preparing for the invasion as early as October 20, 1956. And it is possible, although not proven, that the Soviets had planned for Kadar to replace Nagy from the beginning. I believe Nagy and the members of the Revolutionary and Workers’ Councils were naive in thinking that the Soviets would give up Hungary without a fight. As soon as the Hungarians achieved their liberation, they should have consulted the United Nations, and the leaders of the United States and Europe, for help in keeping it. Instead, Nagy waited until November 1, 1956, when Soviet troops had already crossed the border into Hungary, to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and to notify embassies located in Budapest and the United Nations of the situation. He specifically requested “the aid of the four Great Powers in defense of Hungary’s Neutrality . . . [and appealed] to our neighbors, countries near and far, to respect the unalterable decision of our people” (United Nations, 1957, pg. 25). By this time, there was no time for either the United Nations or the United States to stop the Soviet invasion (United Nations, 1957, pg. 18-31).

The Risks of War with the Soviet Union

If the United Nations and the United States (and the “four Great Powers”) had been involved in the negotiations with the Soviet Union, urging a complete troop withdrawal from Hungary, the Soviet Union might have backed down or delayed taking any action against Hungary. But this also risked getting the “four Great Powers” involved in another major conflict, one few could afford after World War II.

What Measures, if any, could have been Aimed at the Soviet Union?

Economic sanctions and isolation are about the only measures the United Nations could have taken to pressure the Soviet Union into leaving Hungary. Under pressure from the United States, the United Nations General Assembly passed several resolutions early in 1957, demanding the Soviets avoid all military offensives against the Hungarian people; withdrawal of  all troops from Hungarian soil; restoration of the legitimate government chosen by the Hungarian people; establishment of free elections; the end of deportations to the U.S.S.R.; and permission for UN officials to go into Hungary to assess and observe the situation (Harrison, 2012, pg. 3).

Unfortunately, the resolutions could not be enforced, but Soviet expansion was stalled by public pressure, Kadar’s government was not given official recognition, and Hungary lost its membership in the United Nations. Ultimately, the non-compliance of the Soviet Union with these UN resolutions led to the creation of the United Nations Special Committee that compiled the report. This Special Committee submitted public protests against the execution of Nagy in 1958 and kept the Hungary issue on the UN agenda because of its continued maltreatment and human rights abuses of the Hungarian people (Harrison, 2012, pg. 3).

At the same time, the United States and the Soviet Union were attempting to improve relations, and the Hungarian situation became less important as the Soviets convinced other countries to look the other way. On December 20, 1962, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution to drop the Hungary situation altogether (Harrison, 2012, pg. 4).

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

November 29, 2021; updated February 24, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited

Brown, C. (2018). Michael walzer (1935-present). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll (Eds.),

       Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (205-215). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

Harrison. (2012). United nations report on the hungarian uprising 1956. Libcom. Retrieved from


History, The Editors. (2019). This day in history: Soviets put a brutal end to hungarian

       revolution. History. Retrieved from


United Nations Special Committee. (1957). Report of the un special committee on the

       problem of hungary (compiled 1957). Libcom. Retrieved from http://www.libcom.org


Books and Censorship

“Censorship — The Assassination of an Idea.” ~Bookmans Entertainment Exchange~

What’s in the raging flame
of banned books burning?
Knowledge, truth, learning,
courage, freedom, yearning.
~Terri Guillemets~

Banned Books Week will be held from September 18 – 24, 2022. But censorship is an everyday concern, especially for writers, poets, artists, journalists, and other creative people. We’re seeing too much of it right now in the current political climate.

We’ve seen authors mobbed on Amazon and other sites and deliberately given poor ratings simply because the content of a book did not conform to the narrative of the people mobbing the book. This is using censorship and harassment (bullying) to create a politically correct environment where creativity is essentially dead. Show me one writer/artist worth his salt who is politically correct! Only sell-outs conform to the mob.

(Berlin book burning, 1933)

The Nazis confiscated and burned any book that they deemed “un-German.” What does that even mean? No more French porn? No Italian cookbooks? No English poetry? Who decided what was “un-German?” And it wasn’t just books that were condemned. Music, architecture, inventions, paintings, sculptures, and even dress fashions had to conform to a certain German aesthetic. Who wants to live like that? Who wants the government deciding what you can eat, read, think, create?

The Bolsheviks did the same thing after the Russian Revolution of 1917. Anything reminiscent of the previous regime was confiscated, suppressed, burned, destroyed, and labeled “too bourgeois.” The great Russian composer, Rachmaninoff, emigrated to America because his music was condemned by the Communist authorities. The great Russian writer, Boris Pasternak, author of Doctor Zhivago, was censored and suppressed. If his novel had not been smuggled out of Russia, a great piece of literature would have been lost to the world. Doctor Zhivago describes this shameful period in world history.

Chairman Mao did the same thing in China. The Chinese Communist Party is STILL suppressing free speech and writers who speak out against oppression. The CCP STILL controls access to information and the content of that information. American companies like Twitter and Facebook help the CCP censor and control information in China. That’s how they are allowed to do business there.

In the United States, the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment GUARANTEE every American citizen the right of free speech and peaceable assembly to express that free speech. Free speech makes some people uncomfortable. It causes some people to feel threatened. It makes some people close their minds to new ideas. It opens the minds of others. It is divisive, combative, uniting, liberating, threatening, and compromising — all at the same time. Free speech is the basis of CREATIVITY. Free speech is the foundation of FREEDOM. Taking it one step further, FREEDOM is the bedrock on which FREE SPEECH and CREATIVITY stand. If we lose our freedom and submit to totalitarianism, we may as well start looking for another universe to inhabit, because the freedom to CREATE and EXPRESS OURSELVES will be as extinct as the dinosaurs.

(NOTE: violence is not an expression of free speech and is NOT protected by the U.S. Constitution. Devolving into burning, looting, shooting, destroying private and public property, tearing down statues, committing assault and battery, killing police, and threatening people, is just criminal behavior committed by people who have no respect for law and order. These people belong in jail. Furthermore, there is a big difference between exercising free speech and engaging in a two-way debate and just being rude, ill-mannered, and stupid. There was a time when our society valued good manners and intelligent debate.)

(NOTE: Some famous writers banned or partially banned in Nazi Germany: Aldous Huxley, Ernest Hemingway, Hermann Hesse, C.S. Lewis, Jack London, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, George Orwell, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mark Twain, H.G. Wells, and Oscar Wilde.)

Thank you for stopping by!

Dawn Pisturino

January 7, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


%d bloggers like this: