Opinion / Political

A Policy of Peace

By NISHANTH BHARGAVA, junior (Originally published March 2022) 

ON FEBRUARY 24, Russia launched an  array of missile strikes at major Ukrainian  cities and sent troops beyond their borders.  Russian incursions on Ukrainian territory  have been occurring since 2014 and must  be condemned as illegal and unjustified.  From tried-and-true sanctions to direct  military action, it seems as if every option  of a response is available at the moment. On  every TV set, newspaper, and radio in the  United States currently, there is an endless  barrage of media describing the horrors  and consequences of Russian involvement  in Ukraine. Though increasing information  on Russian wrongdoing and domestic  devastation in Ukraine is readily available, the  fact that this crisis is not confined to Ukraine  or Russia is not emphasized enough. Rather,  it is a manifestation of a global conflict  between powers seeking to expand their  spheres of influence. Given the importance  of the conflict in Ukraine to the world as a  whole, it is essential that NATO forces do  not intervene in the Russo-Ukrainian War  and further inflame global tensions. 

As the most brutal solution to the  situation at hand, direct military intervention  must only be considered in the most dire of  circumstances. For the most part, existing  measures to pressure Russia to end the  invasion have been working—for example,  the removal of certain Russian banks from the  SWIFT money transfer network—alongside  economic pressure from the West to decrease  the value of the Russian ruble. Planned  economic measures and sanctions would  further cripple its already ailing economy.  Additionally, direct military intervention  simply is not pragmatic for the long-term  health of Ukrainian society. Wherever new.

Libya, imperialized nations have been left in  ruin, and death and destruction have rained  down upon their people. Much of the media  coverage of Ukraine has focused on the  strategic importance of Ukraine as an ally or  decried Russian atrocities in the nation while  uncritically pedaling the line that military  intervention is a necessary step to stop a full  Russian takeover of Eastern Europe. These  reports, however, often fail to acknowledge  the basic fact that adding more violence to  an already unstable state would only cause a  death spiral in the Ukraine conflict, leading  to more lives lost and trapping both powers  in a quagmire of blood. NATO intervention  would only exacerbate existing conflict  within the nation and make everyday life  worse for Ukrainians. 

An escalation of the war in Ukraine by  NATO would only make Eastern Europe  the new center of global imperial conflict. It  is easy to imagine Ukraine as needing to be  saved by the West from Russia, but NATO  is no stranger to provocative maneuvers  on the European continent. Although the  collapse of the Soviet Union removed its  primary superpower competition, NATO  continued to expand through the installation  of military sites in Eastern Europe, some  exceedingly close to Russia’s borders. While  every nation enjoys the sovereign right to  associate with international alliances, there  is an undiplomatic message conveyed when  placing troops and missiles so close to a  rival nation’s territory. The United States  acted similarly with Cuba during the Missile  Crisis of 1962 in response to their ties with  the Soviet Union. Continuing the policies  of Cold War brinkmanship, Russia and the  United States have continued their policies  of actively attempting to increase their own  

Military intervention in Ukraine, while  addressing a specific conflict, only further  inflames the tensions that caused said  conflict in the first place. 

Conflict in the 21st century, of course,  is not limited in its scope to the battlefield.  The principal foreign policy weapons  of the United States in the modern era  are economic, ranging from sanctions to  embargoes. Targeted sanctions directed  at top-level Russian officials and oligarchs  play an essential role in fighting Russian  aggression, but misplaced sanctions only  hurt those who are already suffering. The  Russian people, disconnected from their  government’s decision to declare war, are  the first victims of sweeping sanctions  on Russian industry and barriers to trade,  as layoffs and increasing prices of goods  make their living situations more untenable.  Moreover, in today’s interconnected global  market, cutting off Russian trade will make  global markets more vulnerable, leading  to economic shocks felt around the globe.  Excessive economic warfare against Russia  will hurt those who are already victimized  by the Russian government and further  destabilize global markets. 

This war did not begin in Ukraine.  This war will not end in Ukraine. It is  one battlefield in a broader global conflict  between empires, one that has been playing  out for centuries as different powers vie for  domination. Any military intervention on  NATO’s part will perpetuate the cycle of  death and destruction playing out around the  world today. The only acceptable solution  must come from a place of peace, neutrality,  and de-imperialization. As civilized people,  as advocates of peace, and as human beings,  it is our duty to try. 

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