Stop Talking About Talks With Putin
Yesterday thirty progressive American politicians wrote a strange letter to President Biden both urging him to promote talks with Putin and supporting Biden’s military aid to Ukraine.
It really reads as though they want things both ways.
I identify as progressive, as anyone who reads my stuff knows. But I am a pragmatic progressive, which means that I know that idealism has its limits. Vladimir Putin is a war criminal on a scale not seen since Pol Pot or Hitler. You do not negotiate with men like that, ever.
Why? Because there is a thing known as ‘Soviet style negotiation’ as described in the classic book on the topic titled Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury. A Soviet style negotiator lays down their position and never deviates from it. Not one concession, not one compromise.
It’s not negotiation at all, it is the appearance of negotiation while they continue to do bad things.
The NATO nations hold all the cards here and we have no reason to compromise with a brutal murderer. In fact we have an obligation to support Ukraine without conditions, and they do not want to talk to Putin. They know him too well.
If we allow a country to invade another country with the intent to absorb it we have learned nothing from the millions of deaths in WWII. In that war Churchill had a policy of no talks with Adolf Hitler, though Hitler wanted to sideline Britain while he ruled Europe. He would have granted Britain neutrality because he knew he did not have the means to invade England.
The Allies stuck to that no negotiation strategy because they were facing evil without limits and you cannot compromise with evil.
In Ukraine, we made a fundamental mistake in sitting on the sidelines when Putin invaded and took over Crimea, the territory of a sovereign nation. Ukraine’s government and military were corrupt and weak at the time (2014–2015). But after that loss, and after they threw out their corrupt leadership, Ukraine moved quickly to modernize and grow their military.
Why? Because they were completely aware that Putin was not done and would not give up on his plan to…