Avoiding Rash Vows


Published March 10, 2022

WORLD Opinions

When Russian tanks rolled across the Ukrainian border at 6:00 A.M. local time on Feb. 24, it was anyone’s guess what would happen next in the tangled webs of global diplomacy. But of one thing almost everyone was certain: the United States was not about to declare war on Russia and respond with direct military force on Ukraine’s behalf.

But there is a good case to be made that the United States had promised to do precisely that 28 years ago at the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. There, the United States, Great Britain, and Russia had all mutually agreed to guarantee the security and territorial integrity of the newly independent Ukraine in return for a surrender of the former Soviet republic’s vast nuclear weapons stockpile.

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Brad Littlejohn (Ph.D., University of Edinburgh) is the founder and president of the Davenant Institute. He also works as a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and has taught for several institutions, including Moody Bible Institute–Spokane, Bethlehem College and Seminary, and Patrick Henry College. He is recognized as a leading scholar of the English theologian Richard Hooker and has published and lectured extensively in the fields of Reformation history, Christian ethics, and political theology. He lives in Landrum, S.C., with his wife, Rachel, and four children.

Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash


Brad Littlejohn, Ph.D., is a Fellow in EPPC’s Evangelicals in Civic Life Program, where his work focuses on helping public leaders understand the intellectual and historical foundations of our current breakdown of public trust, social cohesion, and sound governance. His research investigates shifting understandings of the nature of freedom and authority, and how a more full-orbed conception of freedom, rooted in the Christian tradition, can inform policy that respects both the dignity of the individual and the urgency of the common good. He also serves as President of the Davenant Institute.

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