Compromise Can Be Worthwhile

Some of the rhetoric on the war has been rash and foolish. The American politicians who have urged for the US to enforce a Ukrainian no-fly zone, or even to force “regime-change in Moscow” have no prudence nor appreciation of the need to mitigate the escalation risk. The world is dividing more sharply creating a new cold war that, as before, could easily turn hot following a relatively small provocation or a misunderstanding. The Ukrainian people, European people, Russian people, and people everywhere else are against the war. Over 60 % of the American people were against attacking Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq when Bush Jr. said: “If you’re not with us, you’re against us” and went-ahead with the invasion. The people do not start wars – the political class does, and it often deceives the people into supporting them in this. If governments were really run by-and-for the people, we would fight fewer wars.

Bush lied to us (knowingly or unknowingly – Cheney knowingly lied) when he insisted that Hussein had a massive cache of WMDs in Iraq that had to be eliminated. The sinking of the Lusitania precipitated the US will to enter WW I. The Lusitania was purported by our government to be was purely a civilian cruise liner, but actually it was also smuggling arms to Europe and was therefore sunk justifiably. The Gulf of Tonkin clash that triggered US fighting in Vietnam was pure fiction. The peoples’ prudence is better wisdom and they should rightly be cautious and skeptical when their government wants to take their children and their tax money away from them in order to ‘spend’ those precious assets on fighting yet another war somewhere. One that, like the Afghanistan conflict that we just disastrously folded on, would have another undetermined objective to be pursued without a clearly-definable strategy, in-pursuit of a conclusive victory target point that is unknown and unspecifiable. But this one could bring nuclear winter to the planet – something the climate change automatons aren’t terribly alarmed about.

Americans are particularly weary of this: We fought two world wars in Europe to maintain global stability, never thought of taking any territory (other than installing military bases to deter repeat occurrences in the future), and then gave huge amounts of financial and other aid to the Europeans to help them rebuild. But that continent is full of very old cultural & sectarian divisions and unforgotten grudges that continue to lead to episodic conflicts like the breakup of the ex-Yugoslavia and its “ethnic cleansing”. It also contains rich countries like Germany who over the past several decades got comfortable with not funding their own protection via a stronger military nor by contributing equitably to the NATO coffers. America is not what it was, is tired, and is busy fighting its own internal and external foes. And European governments are in the control of the Great Reset cabalists now anyway – America’s first and foremost fight is to extricate itself from their control (primarily the current administration) and remain free itself.

Historically, what has reduced the frequency of direct conflict between governments has been international markets and trade. The interdependency of countries upon each other to maintain their stability and their standards of life is what has made otherwise bellicose leaders realize that aggression is not worth it. This is the danger in isolating the Russian and Chinese economies from the rest of the world. Once they build the means to supply their needs without trading as much with the west, they no longer have any skin-in-the-game to lose by being aggressive toward western states. Rescinding SWIFT access to Russia has now made it evident (as has the freezing of bank accounts in Canada) that the global financial system is politically-beholden and in-fact not independent. That will lessen the confidence of everyone in participating in it, and will also intensify the incentive for China to work harder at developing its own alternative to the SWIFT system.

Smart negotiators leverage whatever common-interest the parties on either side of the table may still have in-common to keep them engaged-in and working on their negotiations. To increasingly isolate Russia and China from the west, threaten to shut them out of the world economy when they do egregious or disagreeable things, particularly when they already have the collective upper hand in military power as well as preexisting designs on territorial expansion, is to drive them to further disengage with us and view war with us as a more practical path to fulfill their objectives.

Anyone who has ever bargained when buying something knows that before engaging in the haggle, you always decide in-advance the maximum ‘walk-away’ amount that you will be willing to pay. Similarly, to prepare for any negotiation, one should clearly decide which compromises are considerable and which are strictly off the table and would cause him to walk-away if the counter party insisted upon them. Of course, one has to have something to offer as well. It seems the west has not considered approaching Putin in this way, but it should. It could offer him Ukraine’s eastern separatist region in the Donbas, where the people speak Russian and identify with Russia the most, as a final walk-away offer. If Russia agreed to take that region, allowed the people there who don’t want to stay to migrate west to greater Ukraine, and if NATO pledged not to admit the remaining country of Ukraine into NATO, that would satisfy all the concerns Putin expressed about having Ukraine on the Russian border. It would be a concession to a brute, but it could be well worth it to stop the conflict. Intransigence on the part of the west will most-likely only encourage a spreading and an escalation of the conflict, and the stakes associated with that are as big as they get.

The principle means of avoiding conflict with an aspiring aggressor is deterrence. But once that has failed and conflict is underway, two basic choices remain: (1) Be able to offer some mollifying concessions to him to broker a negotiated cease-fire, or (2) Fight it out to the death. Fight or negotiate. When the aggressor is as powerful as Russia, option (2) can quickly become far more costly than making a concession. It may not be ‘right’ to concede, but it may well be best to. All of the US administrations during the course of the first cold war had a keen appreciation of this.

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