The moral vacuity of this argument is clear: Russian shells, rockets, and bombs, not American antitank weapons, are what is massacring the Ukrainian people, driving them into exile, reducing their cities to rubble. The United States did not force Putin to commit these crimes. But in Kinzer’s cool view, it is the defense, not the attack, that is the real wrong. He sneers at Western sympathy for the fate of Ukraine as “delirium,” “mass hypnosis,” and “hysteria.”
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This argument leaves 40 million Ukrainians out of the story; what they want, as a people and a country, is apparently irrelevant. No, they must be pawns in the great-power chess game, their fate settled by the big boys. Unfortunately for this vision, the Ukrainians are kicking over the chessboard by fighting back.
In his column in the same edition (“Finlandization of Ukraine”), Alex Beam writes that there would be nothing wrong with a Ukrainian version of “Finlandization,” the postwar domination of Finnish politics and foreign policy by the Soviet Union: “Ukraine should be so lucky,” he writes. But Beam at least acknowledges that the Ukrainians and the Finns have a right to some say in this question, and that to those who have lived under domination by the bear next door, “Finlandization” is a dirty word.
US response cannot be a rush to war
Stephen Kinzer has it exactly right. Praise be for a rational, sane voice on Ukraine. The Russian invasion, which is causing enormous suffering, must be condemned. But the response of the United States cannot be a rush to war. Sending hundreds of millions of dollars in armaments to Ukraine and more troops to the region is pouring fuel on the fire. Threats of a no-fly zone over Ukraine — coming from some in Congress and the media — are downright reckless. A no-fly-zone could mean the United States shooting down Russian planes, leading us into a hot war and possibly a nuclear conflict that would threaten all humanity.
There is no military solution to the Ukraine conflict. Every effort should be made to foster the peace talks and reach compromises toward implementing an immediate cease-fire, withdrawal of all foreign troops, and negotiations that recognize the legitimate security concerns of all countries in the region. While public sympathy for Ukrainian civilians remains strong, the people of Ukraine would be helped most by a US policy that promotes diplomacy rather than war.
If Ukraine falls to Putin, what next?
I vehemently disagree with Stephen Kinzer. I am a retired lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force, and I do know the consequences of war. Providing the brave Ukrainian people and their nation the ability to defend themselves against an aggressor is the right thing to do.
One thing Kinzer gets right is that this war that Vladimir Putin initiated and is executing in a manner that is resulting in war crimes, is a tragedy. When we do not learn from history, we are forced to repeat it. Everyone in the free world should be relieved that their current leadership reads and knows history. One need only look at what happened in 1938 when Adolf Hitler demanded the annexation of the Sudetenland in what was then Czechoslovakia. The allied powers agreed, in exchange for peace, and we know what followed.
If Ukraine falls to Putin, what will he want next — Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Slovakia, Hungary, Moldova, or Romania?
‘Finlandization’ is not without its losses
“Finlandization.” It’s not an impossible concept, but Alex Beam didn’t mention Karelia, the eastern province that Finland was forced to cede to the Soviet Union in 1940.
Lots of Finns I know had family places there, and I can see why they are bitter at its loss. Jean Sibelius wrote the Karelia Suite in 1893 when it still was part of Finland.
So, if Finland is the model, goodbye Crimea, the eastern provinces of Ukraine, and maybe more. But I agree, it may be the best way out of the current situation.