GLOBAL ISSUES, LEADERSHIP CHOICES:
This article from Foreign Policy considers the downside of negotiating an end to the war in Ukraine:
"'Give diplomacy a chance.' This phrase gets repeated in almost every conflict, and the war in Ukraine is no exception. ... And why not negotiate? Isn’t a diplomatic solution the best—indeed, the only—option for any kind of long-term settlement between Russia and Ukraine? And if so, what could possibly be the harm in exploring those options? Quite a lot, actually: Despite the way it is commonly portrayed, diplomacy is not intrinsically and always good, nor is it cost-free. ... First, the argument that most wars end with diplomacy and so, therefore, will the war in Ukraine is misleading at best. Some wars—such as the U.S. Civil War and World War II—were fought to the bitter end. Others—like the American Revolution, the Spanish-American War, World War I, or the First Gulf War—were won on the battlefield before the sides headed to the negotiating table. Still others—like the Korean War—ended in an armistice, but only after the sides had fought to a standstill. By contrast, attempts at a diplomatic settlement while the military situation remained fluid—as the United States tried during the Vietnam War and, more recently, in Afghanistan—have ended in disaster. Even if most wars ultimately end in diplomatic settlements, that’s not in lieu of victory. ... Diplomacy can moderate human suffering, but only on the margins. Throughout the conflict, Ukraine and Russia have negotiated prisoner swaps and a deal to allow grain exports. This kind of tactical diplomacy on a narrow issue was certainly welcome news for the captured troops and those parts of the world that depend on Ukrainian food exports. But it’s not at all clear how to ramp up from these relatively small diplomatic victories. Russia, for example, won’t abandon its attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure heading into the winter as it attempts to freeze Ukraine into submission, because that’s one of the few tactics Russia has left. ... There are plenty of reasons to believe that Kyiv will be in an even stronger bargaining position as time passes. The Ukrainians are coming off a string of successes—most recently retaking Kherson—so they have operational momentum. While Ukraine has suffered losses, Western military aid continues to flow in. Despite Russia’s missile strikes on civilian infrastructure, Ukrainian morale remains strong. By contrast, Russia is on the back foot. Its military inventories have been decimated, and it is struggling to acquire alternative supplies. Its mobilization effort prompted as many Russian men to flee the country as were eventually mobilized to fight in Ukraine. ... By contrast, a negotiated settlement—even if it successfully freezes a conflict—comes with a host of moral, operational, and strategic risks. It leaves millions of Ukrainians to suffer under Russian occupation. It gives the Russian military a chance to rebuild, retrain, and restart the war at a later date. Above all, a pause gives time for the diverse international coalition supporting Ukraine to fracture, either on its own accord or because of Russian efforts to drive a wedge into the coalition. Eventually, there will come a time for negotiations. That will be when Russia admits it has lost and wants to end the war. Or it will come when Ukraine says that the restoration of its territory isn’t worth the continued pain of the Russian bombardment. So far, neither scenario has come to pass."
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