David Milliband, a former UK foreign secretary, said on Fareed Zakaria’s show Sunday that the world needs established rules to guarantee peace and harmony–rules that Russia is obviously not following under its strongman president Vladimir Putin. And because of this, the present conflict has a much broader scope. And that is an Armageddon-like struggle between the West and Putin.
But the first immediate factor in this conflict is what is happening now in Ukraine to the infrastructure of the country and to the terror being endured by its courageous people. Because of longstanding and irrational resentments of Russia towards Ukraine, there cannot and will not be a diplomatic solution unless Ukraine defeats Russia on the battlefield. In light of that, the West must continue to arm Ukraine with state of the art weapons, defensive and offensive, administrative, communicative, and digital.
Amazingly, Ukraine is now winning this war, and consequently, despite sanctions, Putin is continuing to pour in troops and heavy weaponry into Eastern parts of Ukraine with the goal of subduing the population and taking control of that part of the country. President Zelensky, forever a hero of democracy to his country and to the West, has offered to negotiate and even give certain security assurances to Russia in return for peace. Putin will have none of it. He is acting more and more like a 19th century Czar or a 20th century Stalin, the difference being he has direct access to chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and has threatened to use them.
Which brings me to my next recommendations concerning the call for new rules for a peaceful world order. Putin only seems to respond to power and force, just as Krushchev responded only to Kennedy’s threat of retaliation if Russian ICBMs were not withdrawn from Cuba in 1962. Those of us who were around then, myself included, thought nuclear war was immanent. But Krushchev backed down and pulled the missiles out in exchange for the U.S. pulling out some missiles in Turkey, close to Russia’s border.
Now, Joe Biden, possibly unilaterally, must say to Putin, if you use weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine, the U.S. will respond likewise against Russia. Ideally NATO would be part of this deal, but if not, the U.S. should go it alone. We have the fire power to do so. At the same time we should offer Russia the kind of security reassurances they are looking for, such as neither Ukraine nor other countries that border Russia would be permitted entry into NATO–the EU, yes, but not NATO. We could also include an initiative for a treaty to further reduce nuclear weapons. This would be accomplished through direct high level talks between the U.S. and Russia. And if Russia pulled its troops out of Ukraine and did not attack any other neighboring countries, all sanctions against Russia would be ended, and normal trade, including gas and oil to Europe, would be resumed.
I’ll leave the rest of the negotiation details to the experts, as I am not one of those. I am just a citizen of a still democratic country who has ideas that could lead to a diminution of human suffering and a return to peace and harmony in this old world, tired of conflict and war and war crimes. Our Declaration of Independence holds “these truths to be self-evident, that all men (people) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” I suggest our Declaration apply to any citizen of Earth, and the above rules presented to Putin could apply wherever weapons of mass destruction are used, or being planned to use, to subdue, subjugate, or conquer innocent citizens and countries.
To borrow Emerson’s words, I would call it a Doctrine of Compensation, or if that wasn’t clear enough, a Doctrine of Retaliation, or using history as a touchstone, the Kennedy Doctrine. Its purpose, of course, is preventative, causing dictators and demagogues to blink and pull back.