Thursday, February 05, 2015

__________'s Peace Initiative on ________ Unlikely to Work

This is absolutely right, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't give it a shot. A lot of peace efforts, I would even guess most of them, are long shots that probably won't work. I fully expect whatever the Western powers try to do to stop the war in Ukraine will not work. But there is  tiny chance that something can be worked out that could make the situation marginally better--maybe a ceasefire that will actually hold this time. That tiny chance is enough to be worth trying.

Put another way, there are many intractable and seemingly endless conflicts in the world (e.g. Israel/Palestine, North and South Korea, Eastern D.R.Congo, Kashmir, to name a few off the top of my head). Many have been going on for a while and they all don't seem to have any end in sight. But eventually each one will end somehow and there is as good a chance as any that the ending will involve a negotiated peace agreement that will somehow survive despite the fact that all such prior agreements have failed. That successful peaceful resolution might be 100 failed peace efforts away from us now, but we will only get there if people keep trying.

On the other hand, I don't see how sending in weapons will do anything to improve the situation. If the Obama Administration just leaked this idea to gain leverage in the upcoming negotiations, then fine. But if the administration is seriously considering arming the Ukrainians, I think that would be a serious error. Peace negotiations are always long-shots but they can sometimes work. Is there any example where arming one side of a conflict that the U.S. is not a party to made things better? I can't think of any that didn't at least have some serious blowback down the road. For years, the great example of a successful "arm the side we like" strategy was CIA's program to funnel records to the Mujaheddin fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Nowadays, the only people who still call that a success are the people who stop paying attention the moment the USSR withdrew from Afghanistan in 1988.