Why not Peace talks?
Last week we ended Why not Peace talks with a line from the previous article, “A victorious peace seems unlikely.”
“Despite all its military superiority, the USA (with one exception, the UN-sanctioned liberation of Kuwait in 1991) has never won a war. (‘That is startling information, America has never won a war and has never bought democracy. That information should be burned in the mind and memory of all Americans in particular, and all the nations that America has gone to ostensibly help. - Rev. Daughtry’)
It has ultimately left behind only destruction, chaos and much human suffering. They have never brought democracy. Will this now also be the fate of Ukraine? Wouldn’t fantasies of achieving a military victory result in immeasurable suffering to the Ukrainian people? How can we Europeans share responsibility for that? (The above paragraph is exactly what I and many others are calling for. Read last week’s article. - Rev. Daughtry)
It is more likely that Russia will dig in and maintain control over large parts of eastern and southern Ukraine. This would threaten to divide Ukraine. The result of this war would hence not be a proud victory, but a bombed-out, divided, internally torn and economically devastated Ukraine that could become increasingly ungovernable. And all this would have been achieved through Western military ‘help’.
Wouldn’t it be in Europe’s interest to support, even demand, a negotiated peace? In doing so, Europe would follow the call of the world community to resolve the Ukraine conflict peacefully. In the UN General Assembly, Member States not only condemned Russia’s illegal military aggression, but also called on all parties to end this war through dialogue and negotiations. Recently, the UN Security Council repeated the call for a peaceful solution in a statement. There is no mention of arms deliveries or even a victorious peace in any UN resolution.
The key elements for a peaceful solution have already been worked out by courageous Russian and Ukrainian negotiators in the first two months of the war. According to these, Ukraine would renounce NATO membership and not allow any foreign military bases on Ukrainian soil, while Russia would commit to recognizing Ukraine’s territorial integrity, withdraw all Russian troops from Ukraine and accept international security guarantees for Ukraine. It had also already been tentatively agreed to give a special status to the Donbas within Ukrainian territory (as already foreseen in Minsk II) and to resolve the future status of Crimea at a later stage through purely diplomatic means. (Really a peaceful solution was signed in the first two months of the war, who blocked it or stopped it. I think the world would love to know.)
Certainly, this is not a complete peace treaty – not yet; many difficult details remain unresolved. But the outcome of these peace negotiations, even if only provisional, represent an astonishing achievement at a time of war. There is and will be no other peaceful solution than to agree to some form of Ukrainian neutrality in return for preserving Ukraine’s territorial integrity. It would be completely illusory to assume, as some Western governments like to claim, that such a peace treaty is a purely Ukrainian responsibility and that they should stay out. To use this to justify the West’s silence on Russian-Ukrainian peace efforts is highly disingenuous.
President Zelensky’s position would be far too weak to push through such a far-reaching peace treaty with Russia without Western support, and for Russia a peace treaty negotiated only with Zelensky would hardly be worth anything. Due to its massive military and financial support, this war has long become also a war of the West, if this was not already the case from the beginning. Because of this, Europe should be working for peace with the same vigor as it did for supporting Ukrainian military. Why has this not happened?
Is Europe failing, now at a time of the greatest threat to peace since the end of the Cold War? How can one explain why no European government found the courage to support the Russian-Ukrainian peace negotiations in Istanbul at the end of March, thus betting on an extension of the war? In particular, the EU leadership showed itself to be frightfully incompetent. For it, a transatlantic solidarity with the USA continues to be more important than the search for a pan-European peace. The Afghanistan experience should serve as a warning to the EU that it shouldn’t rely blindly on American positions. With a possibly weakened US President after the mid-term elections in November and little chance to be re-elected in 2024, the USA’s strong support for this war could wane, leaving the mayhem it created for Europe to solve.
Perhaps Italy’s recent peace initiative provides a glimmer of hope. France and Germany should now join in to try to promote a wider European response to this terrible and completely unnecessary war. Only in this way could a complete destruction of Ukraine be prevented and peace in Europe be preserved. It is, therefore, time for Europe to finally find its own voice.”
In this article, I should mention Mr. Schulenberg’s background. For some who read the article might have greater respect and concern for the article, if they knew the authority who has written this very thoughtful and informative article.
Michael von der Schulenburg, former UN Assistant Secretary-General, escaped East Germany in 1969, studied in Berlin, London and Paris and worked for over 34 years for the United Nations, and shortly the OSCE, in many countries in war or internal armed conflicts often involving fragile governments and armed non-state actors. These included long-term assignments in Haiti, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Sierra Leone and shorter assignments in Syria, the Balkan, Somalia, the Balkan, the Sahel, and Central Asia. In 2017, he published the book ‘On Building Peace – rescuing the Nation-State and saving the United Nations’, AUP.
I heard this morning, November 1st, that Iran was sending Russia more weapons. The missile and drone attacks continue. President Zelensky claims to have shot down four Russian planes and as Schulenberg stated “peace isn’t likely”. Yet Zelensky American and Ukrainian leaders, the military, and American press all praise Ukraine for winning back for certain cities as their counterattack. And as always Zelensky says they can win more territory if they had more money and sophisticated weaponry. It seems that American and Ukrainian leaders are in a contradiction in how Russia is bombing certain facilities, hospitals and playgrounds. Repeatedly, we are told that President Putin is a war criminal who is killing civilians and children. At the same time, they admit that Russia has stepped up its attack and even the next four provinces. And so, Ukraine, America and the allies seem to be caught in a destructive contradiction that has brought much suffering to the people they say they are winning but at the same time they are losing.
I believe that this contradiction has to be maintained to justify all of the resources America and other nations have poured in to retain and are compelled to continue giving Mr. Zelensky what he asks for. As President Biden says, “Ukraine is not going to lose.” This war seems inevitable....