Friday, February 24, 2023
#55 / The Nature Of Choice
I am pretty worried about the War in Ukraine. President Biden just went to Kyiv, in what The New York Times called a "surreal and secretive journey." He went there, of course, to demonstrate our nation's unflagging commitment to the defense of Ukraine.
The President's speech, in Poland, given after his visit to Ukraine, said that the United States (and NATO) would "not waver" in the defense of Ukraine. In essence, our President has said that the United States and NATO will "win," and will "beat Russia." Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, has said the exact same thing. Russia will "win," and Putin has implied, by suspending the last remaining nuclear-arms-control treaty between the U.S. and Russia, that Russia will do "whatever it takes" to "win," too, up to and including launching a nuclear war.
I am pretty worried about the War in Ukraine.
The editorial in the February 22, 2023, edition of The Wall Street Journal did not make me any less worried. In fact, quite the opposite. A sub-headline read as follows: "As long as Putin wants war, seeking a peace settlement is a fantasy." The editorial says that "the risks of backing Ukraine are real, but the risks of abandoning it are greater." According to The Wall Street Journal, because the President of Russia has said what he has said - that he intends to continue the war and to "win" it, whatever that takes - the United States has only a "binary choice." The United States can either "give Ukraine the weapons to win, or abandon Ukraine."
My own thought is different. Our choices are never "binary." Why not? Because we can do something "unexpected," something "new," something no one has yet thought about, that changes the situation. Are we really willing to say that the ONLY person who has a genuine choice is Vladimir Putin? Because that IS what The Wall Street Journal and President Biden are saying.
I don't believe it. Nuclear war is unacceptable. As is the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I would like to see our President say that the United States, and NATO, will work tirelessly to find a way to end the war, in a way that will not result in "abandoning Ukraine," and that will not result in the continued destruction of its cities and its people, and that will not result in an inevitable march towards nuclear war. Then, I'd like to see him rally the world to accomplish just that.
The way the United States rallied the nations of Europe to employ economic sanctions, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, was a choice to do something unexpected and new. The response to a military invasion was not just military. Now, let's do something unexpected and new, again, something that presents both Russia and Ukraine with a "win." Think that can't be done? You think that the only guy who counts is the Russian President, threatening nuclear war?
Well, I don't. That's just not the nature of choice! That's saying we don't have any choice.
I think we do.
Let's keep looking for the choice that can stop this horrible war, and prevent its escalation into a world-terminating nuclear exchange - and let's tell everyone, including ourselves, that this is exactly what we are going to do.
Is that a "fantasy?"
Well, I don't buy that. The "fantasy" is thinking that the only way to resolve conflicts is through military action, and that the only way of "winning" will to "beat" Russia, by whatever military action may be necessary, up to and including nuclear weapons.
Maybe that is the way Vladimir Putin sees it. That is not the way we should see it. That is not, really, the nature of the choices we have.