The Peace Process Ukraine’s Supporters Should Support
Calls for a decisive Ukrainian victory have been growing as Russia’s military incompetence continues to be exposed. But with the world teetering on the edge of recession and the developing world facing a spiral of hunger and forced migration, it would be a grave error to dismiss those calling for a negotiated peace.
ATHENS – In 1943, progressives had a moral duty to dismiss calls for a negotiated settlement with Hitler. Cutting a deal with the Nazis to end the carnage would have been unforgivable. Civilized people had only one option: to keep fighting until Allied troops stood over Hitler’s Berlin bunker. Today, by contrast, it would be a grave error to aim for a final military victory over Russia and to dismiss those of us calling for an immediate negotiated peace.
In 1943, the countries gunning for final victory had skin in the game, with Allied troops and, in many cases, civilian populations, on the frontline. Today, the West acts like the United States did before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor: standing on the sidelines, arming and cheering those who are doing the actual fighting. Under the circumstances, urging Ukrainians to deliver a final victory against Russia, when NATO is not even thinking of putting boots on the ground or warplanes in the air, is both hypocritical and irresponsible.
Given that cornering Putin in some Moscow bunker cannot sensibly be the West’s endgame, what would a final victory for Ukraine look like? Understandably, Ukrainians dream of pushing Russian troops at least back to where they were before February 24 – a tall order despite the huge ongoing airlift of state-of-the-art US weaponry. What is far more likely is that, after having dug in on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast and in the eastern Donbas region, Putin will call for a ceasefire. In that case, a slow-burning war of attrition – a cross between Syria and Cyprus – would become the most likely outcome.