Ukraine – what are we learning about war and peace?

If I had been sitting in my apartment in the capital of Ukraine, Kiev, a month before Putin’s military invaded, I would have left Ukraine, probably by car or van, so I could take as much of my stuff with me as possible. The tea leaves in my cup all pointed to a full-scale very violent invasion. And that is what happened at the end of February.

Photo by Margan Blan

If you want peace, sometimes you have to leave what will become the battlefield.

Putin’s methods are brutal and without any signs of compassion. He is following in the footsteps of Stalin. What would you do if you had been living in Ukraine as Russia encircled a large part of the border with the machinery of warfare?

What is the message of Peacehenge? It is that Putin’s war is following the tradition of many empire builders, from the Romans (whose legions were totally brutal as they gained more and more territory) to Hitler.

At some point, Ukraine will be back as a place run by Ukrainians. Who knows how many years from now that will be. As a student of war and peace, I am impressed by the role of non-violent resistance, and its effectiveness versus violent resistance. Here is a short video by an academic, Erica Chenoweth, who is one of the most famous American writers on whether you should tackle a brutal dictator with guns or roses. Here is a primer by Erica, on how and why non-violence is the best approach:

In terms of a “just war”, I am glad the Ukrainians are holding onto territory around Kiev, and pushing the mighty Russian war machine backwards. But when I see the total devastation using missiles and bombs of Mariupol, and the countless deaths there, talk about successfully taking on a dictator with non-violent resistance doesn’t fit. Putin could have been pushed out of power years ago had the Russians been strong enough to do that, but they didn’t act when they could, and now it’s too late. Timing is everything.

I’m going to leave you with this chilling video of the destruction of Mariupol by the Russians using artillery. If we are to believe Erica Chenoweth, 4 percent of the Russian population in a concerted movement five or ten years ago could have brought Putin down. Now it is too late.


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