Letter: A Plan for Ukraine

To the Editor:

Growing up in the 1950s, there was an accepted premise that the president has more information than we do with respect to foreign policy, and that we should trust the government to do the right thing. That was a time before 24-hour news, before social media and the Internet, before Skype, instant communication and fiber-optic cable. Still basking in our post-World War II status as the world’s greatest superpower, and in the midst of strong economic growth, we saw our government as all-powerful, a positive force acting in our best interests. With 50 years of hindsight, we can look back on the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, Iran-contra, Granada, El Salvador, 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan, “enhanced interrogation” and perhaps conclude, “Boy, were we wrong!”

With the current international crisis focused on the borders of Ukraine, it’s apparent that none of our experts want to address the manner in which borders should be established. They talk about 21st-century norms and post-cold-war structures while for thousands of years, borders have been determined by force of arms.

I have a novel suggestion that might avoid bloodshed. Let the people decide. If eastern Ukraine really has an affinity for Russia, then let it become a part of Russia. Let the United Nations oversee an internationally supervised referendum, and let all nations agree on the outcome. Other than power, what does the unelected government in Kiev seek to gain by forcing its will on a people who want no part of it and who would probably have a more peaceful and prosperous existence as part of a country where they apparently have strong cultural ties?

If, in the future, a reformatted Ukraine met NATO and/or EU requirements and wished to join those associations, fine. In that event, the EU and its allies would be not only justified but obligated to guarantee, by military action if needed, their right to such an association. Perhaps even the neo-cons could agree to such a plan.

R. Lauren Johnson