The foolishness of the Ukraine crisis in Europe, with a possible solution

“There is no honourable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war. Except it’s ending.” – Abraham Lincoln.

Ordinary citizens in both Europe, Ukraine and Russia don’t want war. It’s rarely that people want war. Propaganda, however, can accelerate sentiments in different and sometimes sinister ways, as often shown in history.

But not rarely, there was a hefty price to pay. The combination of propaganda and ignorance is a dangerous one, because propaganda rarely covers the truth.

There is gross injustice by sending people to war for “a lie”. But the lie can be wrapped and presented in convincing ways through the falsehood of savvy propaganda. Super powers are well able to convince their citizens that they are standing on the right side of history, but rarely they tell the full truth.

The pretext for war in Iraq and Afghanistan through 9/11, was smartly crafted and many secrets in this area will never enter the  public domain. Likewise the assassination of an American President as part of various complexities in history an earlier time,  has been carefully hidden from the public eye, and still is. 

But Russia and the previous Soviet Union has it’s history as well. Likewise various other countries.

The reality which counts is that wars are made through decisions of government leaders and their military commanders. Propaganda and lobbying are often tools to get people in line. War has obviously still a place in history but the risks are higher and leaders need to surf the waves of wisdom to keep on top and prevent drowning or burning themselves. There is little which ordinary people can do to defy this reality we have to live with, still hoping that leaders may change their perceptions, their agenda for the better, rather than losing their mind for the worst in a less than savvy war. It’s a matter of mercy, more than justice. The so-called justice for one perspective is not the justice of combined perspectives.

Mercy is the power of people to decide on the common good in people and groups and nations and to create the best possible solution in a controversial scenario. However, it often does not work that way, and sometimes even people get killed because they tried to end war. 

When you can’t pay e.g. the rent for 3 months because you got a broken leg and can’t work, by law you can be evicted from your house and your family can find themselves homeless. After all you signed a lease contact. Mercy is when the landlord allows you to stay in the house until you are recovered and make up for his lost income when you find a new job. In the meantime, however. your kids can play with fire by night and find the house and everyone dead by day. They screwed up the 2nd lease, being allowed. 

Like this are some leaders in Europe and NATO in this generation. They play with fire by night and may lose the second lease on peace, provided after the Second World War and after the fall of the Soviet Empire. This is what happens at the moment in and around Ukraine.

Neither the people of Ukraine, nor the people of Russia, Europe and the US are bad at large,-  though their governments have the instruments and the power of decision making, to carry out propaganda guided misery, implemented by people who are trained to follow orders and do terrible things. Once war breaks out there is a domino effect on evil because the veil of civilisation is thin and can only be protected by abiding to international law, however with mercy in particular scenarios. 

People are not made for war. When they are sent to fight wars they often come back with PTSD because of the gruesome manifestations of war. People are by nature not often evil, but war can make them both numb and evil through the limits of human compassion on the battle field. The battle field knows neither mercy nor justice. The battle field has its own rules. 

There are still scholars who are intelligently ( and religiously) defending and framing either the Russian system – or the system being used by the US or China. And they can be very convincing for either country. Those countries are very powerful, in different ways. And the propaganda tool to create “the enemy picture” is easily and smartly crafted. Clever but not always wise. No system is that bad that it includes the people of a country as a whole. But propaganda resonates with not always the better instincts of people. When passion meets aggression there is no mercy anymore. When passion meets mercy, wisdom will prevail.   Hence mercy being better than the proclaimed justice of war and the announced wisdom to prepare for this by countries who don’t see the implications of their actions and gamble with the lives of others. 

Regarding Ukraine, what does Russia want?

It is actually more about what Russia doesn’t want. Russia does not want Ukraine in the NATO, and they don’t want any NATO exercises near Russia’s border.

Is that a bad thing? 

No,  I don’t think so. 

It’s a legitimate request based on their own history perhaps and at least their sense of security being compromised. 

If Ukraine would potentially become a NATO State, there could be nuclear missile systems just on the border with Russia. This is a red line for Russia and Russia did not get any reassurances from the West.

Russia did prepare an army to stand ready for a potential invasion of Ukraine. That might well have been the intention, but it did not happen. Meanwhile the US and NATO are preparing a build-up of an army in Eastern Europe close to the borders of Russia.

What is or might be required?

Relaxation of international tensions in Europe on the Ukraine conflict…obviously, through de-escalation and a reasonable agreement.

What could this be?

Let’s rethink for a moment the potential NATO status for Ukraine in favour of a “strict neutrality status” for Ukraine.

This could indeed prevent the prospect of a scenario which could potentially become the “killing fields of Ukraine”, with -perhaps – parts of Europe being involved. The sentiments run very deep in Ukraine. And a regional war in Europe is possible with unknown implications and destruction.

Think of Ukraine as “a neutral State” ( like e.g. Switzerland), keeping as such its independence , – however at the same time Ukraine neither being a NATO State at the disadvantage of Russia, – nor being a “Russian dictated buffer State” at the disadvantage of Ukraine itself. Ukraine will keep this way its independence and can be a prosperous nation, when it changes a deep-rooted culture of internal corruption. The alternative could be destruction of the Ukraine as a country, whilst other countries are busy to try to keep out and fixing “the blame game”.

NATO’s purpose is to defend the freedom and security of its members. By increasingly encroaching on Russian borders by making former Soviet members NATO States, – Europe and the US have been ongoing and moderately provoking Russia, – and this is the cause for Ukraine being a disputed zone in Europe at present. Russia is as such responding to an issue more or less created by NATO and the US. For Russia potential NATO membership for Ukraine is a no-go zone and a red line and they are prepared to prevent this happening at considerable cost. China meanwhile supports Russia to stop expansion of NATO in Europe.

If America seriously addresses Russia’s security concerns (genuinely), and stops NATO to consider and implement membership for Ukraine within the NATO alliance, – a peaceful resolution is “entirely possible,” says former US State Department adviser James Carden. This is the only real requirement. Actually, NATO till so far never seriously contemplated to take Ukraine on as a member on board.

Strict “Neutrality status” for Ukraine under supervision of the UN would be the way out of a bizarre conflict with neither justice nor mercy. But this concept is based on both mercy and justice for all parties who are not willing to risk of a merciless war without justice.

What happens if Russia invades Ukraine?

Western nations are supporting Ukraine, but some responses have been tougher than others. The US and UK have supplied weapons, while Germany plans to send medical support next month but will not supply military equipment.

China supports Russia in stopping NATO extending more to Russian borders and we have to wait and see how this works out.

There has been much talk about sanctions aimed at punishing Moscow. Publicly, the US and European allies are aiming to hit Russia financially like never before if Putin does invade Ukraine. There are calls to cut Russia out of the SWIFT financial system, which moves money from bank to bank around the world. This would be one of the most damaging financial steps they could take, to destruct Russia’s economy immediately and long term. This could isolate Russia from most international financial transactions, including international profits from oil and gas production, which counts for about 40 percent of its revenue. The US considers as well blocking Russia from access to the US dollar, if Russia invades Ukraine.

In the meantime, two superpowers are facing each other fully military equipped over the borders of Ukraine with the US accelerating the risk of a major and potentially escalating conflict, rather than offering a peaceful resolution – and a way out – based on what Russia does not want. And this is simply no NATO membership for Ukraine, that’s all.

The US may think there is justice to punish Russia for meddling in US elections and this is what President Biden promised. But the way he shows power in Europe, without “a way out”, might not be that merciful for the whole of Europe whilst a neutrality status for Ukraine is based on both reason and mercy at a critical time. Mercy for the people of Ukraine, Russia and Europe -and others perhaps – who don’t want a major war, not again.

Group bias for the European partners with the US might be an issue, like group bias is an issue for the Republican Party in the US at the moment, who formally declared the insurrection last year on the 6th of January as “a legitimate political discourse”. Group bias can be a dangerous when people stop thinking for themselves.

Former President Trump once proclaimed the US is “a deeply stupid country”. That’s not true for the majority of the Americans, but if the US is unable to create an enduring peace between European nations and Russia, and escalates tension rather than de-escalate tension in Europe, we may add to the existing list that World War 2 was a victory for both the US and it’s allies, including Russia, but: that both the 3rd European war, the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war and the Vietnam war were deliberate and avoidable and failed wars, at the cost of many.

People who nowadays want war or take the risk on an international escalating conflict, don’t know what war will be.

Hence better to get back to the negotiating table and sign up for Ukraine being a neutral independent state, with neither NATO nor Russian involvement to extend each their territories. Aiming for extending territories is fruitless and mindless business.

The power of choice, with wisdom, based on mercy, lies in grace under pressure. In other words – regarding war: prevention is simply better than cure. And in the crisis of Ukraine it could be that simple…

Thank you.

Paul  Wolf

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