In our classes on conflict resolution, we refer to the extremes of conflict. We call this “The Conflict Continuum”. We illustrate a linear continuum (on a white board or by slides). On the one side of the continuum is “Non-Engagement” and on the other side is “War”. The latter is the total engagement in conflict – often without rules. The Russian government apparently has no problem engaging in war (total engagement in conflict). Further, they don’t seem to even adhere to the so-called Rules of Warfare. In my opinion this term is itself an oxymoron – war by definition is the total disregard of rules – in favor of winning.
The question for us in the United States and Canada – and other people in other democracies concerned about the presumptive battle between democracy and autocracy, is: what can we do now? Our governments are wrestling with this dilemma at this very time. Sanctions by the U.S. and other allied or friendly governments pale in comparison to news images of the valiant people of all ages in Ukraine dying and being injured by the most horrendous military campaign ever witnessed in Europe since Hitler’s rampage.
As to sanctions, there should be no exceptions to what the U.S. and the free world might impose. Good works in some cases by Oligarchs (such as Roman Abramovich with Israel’s Yad Vashem Memorial ) should not allow them to escape sanctions. If they have repudiated the Russian/Putin conduct, maybe that could be a factor. On March 10, 2022, according to press reports, the U.K. has sanctioned Mr. Abramovich and other oligarchs. The British press quickly picked up the Abramovich sanctions because he (or his organization) owns the well-known Chelsea Football team.
Add to my own frustration at not being able to do more to save Ukraine, is my own background in the military and emergency services (years ago). Like so many people, I wish we could do more. I wish we weren’t so afraid of Russia (or China, or Iran, or North Korea), but rationally I understand that we have many decision factors at play in this crisis.
In America, as we relate to our own domestic policing issue, we constantly see in the news how dangerous it is for police in this country to deal with someone who is both unstable AND armed. The result of that situation is too often the death of one or more people.
In Russia’s case, many people have questioned the very mental health of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Conduct of Russian soldiers in Ukraine (now – and in the past in Georgia, Crimea, Donbas, Chechnya) are warnings to us that we are dealing with an unpredictable (and well- armed) foe. In the U.S., our government has taken the “position” ( a term which we, in conflict resolution, don’t like because the “p” word implies an inability to change) that Ukraine is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and we don’t have a “legal right” to commit U.S. forces to the fight.
The premise of what is right or moral has not so far been enough to get the United States into the fight. What is very relevant to the calculus of war with Russia is the nuclear issue. Is it just Putin bombast or does he mean it that he would risk everything including nuclear retaliation if he thought American or NATO combat forces entry into the Ukraine situation might tilt Russian goals toward a loss – and lead to one or more irrational nuclear strikes in Europe – and even at our North American homeland.
This is not a war-mongering column as some might see it. But – there is such a thing, in my view, as doing what is right. Years ago, I wrote one of the least popular books ever written:
Ethics for Government Employees (Crisp Publications, 1993). In it, I called for standards of conduct for employees in the public sector. My wife Bryane and I have a book coming out called: Principled Choices: A Public and Private Sector Ethics Practice Guide (to be published by Lalo Publishing late 2022). In these books and according to many other commentators, the “public good” and the “right choice” from several alternatives is both challenging, but also the moral pathway to proceed.
Following the ethics/moral test, it is hard to ignore what is being done in real time in Ukraine as acceptable conduct by what has been thought to be a rational, thinking nation. It must be dealt with – and as soon as possible. The U.S. has had no problem stepping in with full force in the past (the “domino theory” of Viet Nam), the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, the attack on the Iraqi Kurds, the war in Bosnia, and attempts at defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan – even Viet Nam. Why, now suddenly, are we standing by the “legal precept” of Ukraine not being a member of NATO?
According to recent opinion of both Democrats and Republicans, 74% of Americans favor a NATO “no fly zone” over Ukraine (as reported on CBS-TV “Sunday Morning” on March 6, 2022).
Is there not an ethical, moral “public good” principle here: Defending Democracy against Tyranny?
It may be said by many Americans (and maybe others), if we don’t fight “them” there, we will have to have to fight them much closer to home, or indeed, even in our own collective backyards. Poland certainly believes that statement. They have offered Mig-29 aircraft and at no cost to Ukraine, but the U.S., at our press time, has quashed that offer.
HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE TO DIE BEFORE WE OFFER SOME REAL PROTECTION – SUCH AS A “NO FLY ZONE”!
“War itself is, of course, a form of madness...It’s amazing how we spend so much time inventing devices to kill each other and so little time working on how to achieve peace.”
-- Walter Cronkite
(Thanks Ron L. for a most appropriate and timely quote)
A GREAT TIME FOR SCALPERS
Anyone who has visited a gas station lately knows that the war between Russia and Ukraine has given the scalpers of gas, food and so many others things people must have, a great excuse for raising prices. The news and “current events” have always been used to justify making more money when “scalpers” are around (as they always seem to be). This was true in World War II, the Oil Embargo under President Carter and again Now. In fairness, this is not to say everyone or every organization who raises prices is, by definition, a scalper. If an entity has to pay more to get what someone wants, it is fair to pass an increase on.
We have found during the Great Pandemic (which, at press time, is not over), some people and firms have done everything they could to absorb certain price raises of things rather than pass them on. These people and organizations (including many in the hospitality – food service field) are heroes in their own right.
Most of us, who buy food for themselves, their family even their pet or buy gas (petrol) to be able to get around, just have to bear higher costs. But it does not mean that we need to be happy with scalpers – who are no more than opportunists who see a chance to make a buck, a euro or a pound on the backs of their so-called fellow sufferers.
THE IIO NEWSLETTER MAY JOIN SUBSTACK
Producers of this publication, which is monthly at this point, have been probing ways to increase circulation – not to increase profit (of which there is none) at this time . There are several multi-newsletter posting sites now available for credible newsletters with good writing. Many of these allow for the potential of their client NL’s (and the site) to make money on the publication. They also may offer readers an option to receive the NL without cost. Thanks to alertness by LPI webmaster/technical director Tom Wible, we are now considering Substack as a circulation source. For now, we will continue to use Mail Chimp. We are also hoping that readers will add to the opinion and commentary here.
THE MARCH, 2022 MURPHY-ISM FOR THESE TIMES
Between last month and this month, the world is different. It is facing War in Europe. Action by Russia cannot be seen as “business as usual”, yet we still want to smile when we can. Here is the Murphy-ism:
“In the New World, we all haven’t come over here in the same boat, but thanks to Russia’s assault on Ukraine, we all find ourselves in the same boat now.”
LALO PUBLISHING NEWS
We continue with sales of Todd Denick’s book, IT WILL COME: Alaskan Adventures pale in Comparison to Surviving Sepsis. With Todd – an American resident with family in Germany, we have gotten sales from several countries beside the U.S. This powerful book – written with compassion and style, introduces us to the medical challenge of sepsis. Sales in bookstores have been challenged by the Great Pandemic. However, the book is available in paperback through Amazon and electronically, through Kindle.
Preparation continues with Amy D. Howell’s upcoming book, Spotlight On Sepsis. This book will offer important guidance for patients, family and caregivers. If interested in more information and a publication date, please drop us an email at: email@example.com.