Saturday, February 07, 2015

Reading accounts of the diplomacy--all the shuttling, meeting, back-and-forthing--surrounding the separatist rebellion in Ukraine reminds me of the run-up to World War I.  Merkel and Hollande have gone to Moscow.  Ministers, Secretaries and even US Senators meet in Munich.  Unlike WWI, though, the guns are already firing in Ukraine.  The fight is on. 

I would like to think that today's diplomats and world leaders can do better than their 20th century counterparts.  On big difference from then is the addition of a woman to the discussion.  Angela Merkel's statements are a change of pace from the usual military solutions and reality.

The BBC has the best quote: 
Mrs Merkel said she could not "imagine any situation in which improved equipment for the Ukrainian army leads to President Putin being so impressed that he believes he will lose militarily".
An accompanying analysis added that in her remarks to the Munich Security Conference she insisted that more arms would lead to more victims.  The analysis notes that there was "...significant applause at these remarks, though noticeably neither US Vice-President Joe Biden or the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko were clapping."

The Washington Post expands on the debate.
In one exchange, Sen. Corker (R-Tenn.), who is among more than a dozen members of Congress at the conference, challenged Merkel about German reluctance to agree to provide Ukraine lethal, defensive weapons.

She answered the new chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee bluntly: “Well you see, I am firmly convinced that this conflict cannot be solved by military means.” If weapons were provided, she said, Putin would likely up the ante, providing far more superior weapons to separatists. “I understand your viewpoint and also the discussion that is going on, but the progress that Ukraine needs cannot be achieved by more weapons,” she said.
I don't know if or how much Merkel's gender affects her thinking.  She understands that war has victims, which is the first step toward ending war.  I just hope that she's sufficiently skilled to turn her views into effective policy soon.  The American dogs of war are barking, Ukraine understandably feels threatened, and Russia under Putin is paranoid and expansionist.  It's a toxic mix.

And while all this talking is going on the guns continue to fire.

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