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Member since: Tue Nov 16, 2004, 02:14 PM
Number of posts: 6,539

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Zelensky's chance: how he can shorten his war, and maybe start world peace

The war in Ukraine is the most lopsided war imaginable, with the exception of the Viet Nam and Afghan conflicts, in which the power and might of the U.S. armed forces attempted to defeat a bunch of economically deprived guerillas, and were themselves beaten. Still, if this were a tennis match, Ukraine would be seeded 22nd and Russia seeded 2nd or so. And the outcome to this war in progress has been equally lopsided: in the PR arena, Pres. Zelensky has wiped the floor several times with his opponent, Mr. Putin. The entire world now (except for a couple of ayatollahs) thinks Zelensky is a hero and Putin a monster. I'm not saying these are inaccurate judgments; I'm saying Zelensky has a chance to win a much greater victory for the world than merely driving Russians out of his country somewhere down the line. Zelensky has a chance to make the very idea of war so ridiculous that no country will ever again engage in it for the sake of mere vanity. While he's waiting for enough planes to establish air cover for his country, Zelensky can be the first leader in history to defeat an army not by killing them, but by keeping them alive.

When the Russian army entered Ukraine, they were already half demoralized, on account of the number of lies they had already been told by their own superiors. Once they got into the country, many experienced the horrible sensation of being asked to kill people who were indistinguishable from themselves--people who could be brothers or cousins. And if these Russian soldiers are getting any information from the outside world, they have realized they are becoming more deeply involved in war crimes with every shot they fire. So, the average Russian soldier has few choices, none of them palatable. If he deserts, he'll be killed by his own government; if he deserts and doesn't get caught, he's still a war criminal, and sneaking out through Finland gets dangerous; and if he fights on, he just gets to hate himself more. Here's where Pres. Zelensky can offer these soldiers a better deal than they can get from their own country.

Zelensky, a savvy netizen, can get the word out that surrendering to Ukraine offers better benefits than they can hope for now from their own country. He can promise them that if they lay down their arms, he will not repatriate them until it's safe for them to go home. He can promise to negotiate for them at the peace talks, which will inevitably take place fairly soon after Mr. Putin is removed by his own government. Zelensky can ask for a complete withdrawal of all remaining Russian troops from the country of Ukraine, and amnesty for all Russian prisoners of war. He can give them work starting to clean up the rubble of apartment buildings and hospitals they have turned into rubble, and promise them comfortable living conditions as soon as they get the water and power on again in Mariupol. He can offer them the occasional dinner by Chef Jose Andres. Pres. Zelensky will know what to say.

This war, like many others, demonstrates how insane war actually is. Pres. Zelensky has a chance to speak directly to the army trying to occupy his country, and convince them to lay down their arms for a better future for all concerned. This hasn't been tried before, but if anyone can make this work, it's Volodymyr Zelensky.
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