The United States and Russia have been jockeying for position in Ukraine since, at least, 2014. Three American presidents, Obama, Trump and Biden, and one Russian president, Putin have been in power during this period.
According to a publication of the Congressional Research Service updated on October 21, 2022 the United States has, up to October 14, 2022, provided $20.3 billion in “security assistance” to Ukraine. As one can observe on CNN, Russia has destroyed large swaths of Ukrainian territory and Google projects if the war ended now it would cost between $100 billion – $200 billion dollars to reconstruct the damaged areas. The human cost was not considered but it is immense.
Ukraine’s Crimea area was taken over by Russia by force in 2014. The world took note and America began arming Ukraine in anticipation of just what happened on February 24, 2022. If that invasion had not happened the United States could have saved over $20 billion dollars, Ukraine could have been spared up to $200 billion dollars in reconstruction costs and Russia could have preserved untold billions in economic and humanitarian costs. The spin off cost to the rest of humanity is incalculable with the loss of tens of thousands of lives, untold wounds and injuries and millions of people displaced from their homes.
We humans have known since cave man days that there may be times when peace is bought at too dear a price, but there never is a time when war is good in either human or economic terms. What we have not yet perfected is a method of maintaining a just peace in the face of an aggressor who is bent on an unjust war.
But we all know peace is best and war is worst. Muslims greet people with “Peace be upon you” and Christians cite the peace-keeping propensities of Jesus as his greatest virtue. Jews say “Shalom” (peace) when coming or going and virtually every culture claims peace as one of its paramount goals. We humans have repeatedly codified peace as one of our greatest treasures.
The Charter of the United Nations, ratified on October 24, 1945, at Chapter VI, Article 33, demands that disputing countries:
“[S]hall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation,
conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional
agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.”
“The Security Council shall, when it deems necessary,
call upon the parties to settle their dispute by such means.”
Just such a solution was found to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 by United States President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Union President Nikita Khrushchev. America had installed nuclear missiles in Turkey, then on the border of the USSR, and in Italy that was not far from Russia. Khrushchev responded by seeking to install nuclear missiles in Cuba. Instead of nuclear war, America withdrew its armaments from Turkey and Italy and the USSR turned its missile loaded ships around and took them home.
There are similarities to the current confrontation among Russia, Ukraine and America. The United States has armed Ukraine that borders Russia. Russia rattled its sabres for some time and has brought disaster on itself, Ukraine and, potentially, its other neighbors, such as Georgia that was invaded by Russia in 2008 and 2014. Poland, Finland, Moldova, etcetera, etcetera remain within Russia’s radar. Perhaps reliance on the wisdom of the United Nations Charter might be in order.
As Abraham Lincoln advised:
“Discourage litigation (and war is the ultimate litigation);
Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can.”
In their book, Law and Economics, at p. 356, Robert Cooter and Thomas Ulen state:
“For any trial [war], a settlement usually exists that makes both parties better off, so trials [wars] are usually inefficient.”
And legal philosopher Richard Posner states:
“The primary (though not the exclusive) function of law is
to aid parties by altering incentives.”
Economic Analysis of Law, p 256
The American Bar Association explains that disputes should be approached by emphasizing a problem solving attitude (integrative bargaining) in which both sides seek a solution that meets their interests. And other countries should encourage such an approach, not exacerbate the problem.
Now one might think we are a little late in the Russia/Ukraine War to pour oil on troubled waters, but what is the alternative, perpetual and expanding war? Besides, Ukraine is only one of Russia’s neighbors. Peace in the whole world should be the goal. For as suggested by the Charter of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization):
“Since wars begin in the minds of men”,
peace must supplant conflict in their hearts.