“A ceasefire as soon as possible, A compromise both sides can accept”

Brian and everyone,

The German open letter offers the simple solution to the Ukraine crisis of  “A 
ceasefire as soon as possible, A compromise both sides can accept,” as if the 
road to this were somehow easy to see and likely to occur anytime soon. Though 
I consider myself a pacifist, I wonder what events in the recent histories of 
wars makes this goal seem even remotely realistic. 

Wars end in the following conditions:
When one side clearly has won and the other sides is utterly depleted, as in 
(to mention only wars in the past century or so) World Wars I and II or the 
1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars or the Viet-Nam war  (where the anti-draft and 
anti-war movement in the US helped produce the realization of effective 
depletion) or either the Soviets or Americans in Afghanistan or the Sinhalese 
defeat of Tamils in Sri Lanka;
When a fairly long-term stalemate has occurred, as in the Korean War, which was 
left pretty much in status quo ante, and in several long wars in Africa or the 
50-year civil war in Colombia;
When the war has been pretty much a border skirmish and each side understands 
it is not in its own interest to allow the war to widen, as in various short 
conflicts between India and either China or Pakistan;
When dominant outside powers force the much weaker war participants to accept a 
peace, as in the 1956 Sinai War or the Bosnian war;
When  real war could  easily occur but the two sides realize clearly that it 
must be avoided, as in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Only in case 5 has diplomacy been effective in ending things; in the other 
cases actual belligerence or restraint or threats of stronger outside-power 
intervention, more than diplomacy of any sort, actually determined the outcome. 
Diplomacy has come to the fore after the wars, for instance in peace congresses 
organized among the victors, not during the wars and not even usually to end 

The US and EU could decide to stop helping Ukraine, in which case it would 
probably eventually and painfully lose to Russia, but why should we believe 
that even that degree of pressure on Ukraine would enable it to make any kind 
of reasonable peace with Russia? It seems pretty clear to me that Ukrainians 
would and should feel horribly abandoned if that happens , but that they would 
still fight on a long time, even if hopelessly.  That path would increase the 
likelihood of further war  in Eastern Europe or elsewhere. 

As for putting pressure on Russia, that’s what the US and EU are trying to do 
with sanctions and arming Ukraine, but unless Putin has a change of heart, we 
can’t expect that to lead to peace soon. 

In neither case is diplomacy likely to help much since the history of Russia, 
probably for centuries, is of type 1 almost exclusively. There have been no 
peace talks that amounted to anything in Syria or in Chechnya, or in WWII. The 
surrender by Lenin to Germany and Austria in WWI was because the revolution 
couldn’t succeed while fighting on in what was anyway a losing cause. 

Unless some new form of pressure for peace is invented, the only  hope for any 
reasonable end to the fighting is if Russians somehow turn against Putin or if 
he can find some way to come out heroically while withdrawing. Otherwise he 
will continue what may be a losing battle while still inflicting great damage 
on Ukraine. 

Calling for diplomacy is easy to do but, sadly, highly unrealistic. 


> On May 17, 2022, at 8:50 AM, Brian Holmes <bhcontinentaldr...@gmail.com> 
> wrote:
> Below is a machine translation of the “Open Letter” to Scholz, signed by over 
> 200,000 German personalities including Alice Schwartzer, Alexander Kluge and 
> Siegfried Zielinski. The source is here:
> https://www.emma.de/artikel/offener-brief-bundeskanzler-scholz-339463 
> <https://www.emma.de/artikel/offener-brief-bundeskanzler-scholz-339463>

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