I have resisted writing for the past 3 months ever since Russia invaded the Ukraine. It was just too disturbing. Covid wasn’t bad enough we needed a war too? War is ugly, cruel, terrible and barbaric. I have witnessed the genocide and the devastation like everyone else. I am sickened and distressed by it like everyone else. I see very little diplomacy to end this war. As Michael Goodwin writes in the New York Post, “Are we on the verge of sleepwalking into World War III?”
Christopher Clark in his book “The Sleepwalkers” describes how World War I began despite no European leader wanting war or thinking that war would result from their actions. War generally results from cumulative miscalculations. It is fair to say that Russia and Putin have totally miscalculated the Ukrainian resistance, Zelensky’s leadership, and the reaction from the West.
This war is truly senseless and has fiercely upset the New World Order. It actually has thrust us all back to the Old World Order when Russia was run by the Stalinists and the Khrushchevs. Europe had been at relative calm for the past 30 years. It was shattered by Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.
A lot of blame can be dished out. Historians will do their fair share. Yes, I doubt Putin would have invaded the Ukraine if Donald Trump was still President. Yes, Putin thought he would have a cakewalk into the Ukraine like Crimea in 2014. Yes, helping the Ukraine with fighter jets and Howitzers from day one would have been a more prudent move than 3 months into the conflict.
Mistakes have been made. Now is the time to negotiate a settlement between Putin and Zelensky.
My grandfather who came from Zhitomer and who fought for the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, had his life saved by President Theodore Roosevelt who negotiated a Peace Treaty.
President Biden must do the same, otherwise risk sleepwalking into World War III. As Henry Kissinger recently said we are at a “turning point”.
As Dominic Green writes in the New York Post, “Either the Biden Administration can push for negotiations, define the terms of a Peace deal and secure the foundations of a 21st century security system in Europe, or it can fight Russia to the last Ukrainian and pursue an open ended- and uncontrollable conflict with Russia that will cost thousands of Ukrainian lives, reverse America’s gains and consume America’s global strategy.”
Each side must save face. Putin has to be made to give up on his dream of conquering all of the Ukraine and Zelensky must be willing to make concessions.
If President Biden thinks that Putin will be defeated, this is exactly the miscalculation that can lead to World War III. As Dominic Green further writes, “The closer America gets to defeating Russia in Ukraine, the closer America gets to losing in Ukraine. While it is imperative for the stability of Europe that Putin does not win outright in Ukraine, it is vital that he not lose too badly. If he wins, he will be emboldened, but if he loses, he will be enraged-and regain the initiative. Putin is not mad but wicked.”
In the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 both Russia and Japan made territorial claims to Manchuria and the Empire of Korea.
President Theodore Roosevelt negotiated a Treaty giving Japan control of Korea and much of South Manchuria. Russia who essentially lost the war was not required to pay Japan’s war costs. War casualties were high on both sides. The Russians lost 60,000 and the Japanese lost 41,000. The Japanese asked President Theodore Roosevelt to negotiate a Peace agreement and representatives of the two nations met in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1905.
Throughout the war and peace talks American public opinion largely sided with Japan just as American public opinion sides with the Ukraine today against Russian aggression.
Although the situations are different, it is up to the Biden Administration to end the Russia-Ukraine War now before it spirals out of control and sleepwalks into World War III.
There is heavy bipartisan support to negotiate a settlement. Seize the moment before it is too late.