Editorials: Putin should end his war; and Drop the charges against Assange

Russian antiwar protesters gathered in Moscow as the Ukraine war began. Thousands have been jailed, and for as much attention as the Western powers and media are paying to them, they may be just a small sliver of Russian public opinion. If, in the end, this censored and prohibited ragtag movement prevails, that makes Putin look weak and ends his political career. Wikimedia photo, for which nobody wants to take credit and be arrested.

Even if it’s just a war over appearances…

In the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse, the United States promised Russia that it would not expand NATO to the east, but ended up breaking that promise. One thing has led to another, but Ukraine was never in a position to attack Russia or bring in foreign military forces to do so.

Vladimir Putin chose this war, and in so doing he demonstrated his weakness, however the battle goes. He expected the Ukrainians to give up without much of a fight. He expected Russian-speaking Ukrainians to be loyal to Russia instead of Ukraine. He expected the world to accept a Ukrainian fait accompli. None of those things happened and a face-saving exit may not be possible.

The world needs to stand firm. Ukraine’s existence as an independent sovereign nation isn’t negotiable. The politics of big countries bullying and attacking their neighbors isn’t acceptable.

Is it hypocritical for Washington to apply these standards to Moscow? Actually, it is. The solution is not to say that everybody who can get away with it does it, but to adopt a 21st century Good Neighbor Policy. End this war, bind the wounds, and rebuild. Build back better, actually.

There are a bunch of political reputations on the line — Vladimir Putin’s, Volodymyr Zelensky’s, Joe Biden’s, the Putin Republicans’, Boris Johnson’s and so on. Not a one of them is a good reason for somebody to get killed. The best leaders will be those who stick up for important principles, the futures of their nations and the well-being of other people without much thought about their personal careers.


Assange is a hero to too much of the Democratic base for Biden to imprison

Yes, there are nasty things that one might truthfully say about Julian Assange. But what did he do to be in so much trouble?

He published a video of US forces attacking a Reuters news crew, killing journalists and others, including nearby children. The US government, confronted discretely by a whistleblower, denied it. When the video was leaked, they lied about it. It was not a mistake in the heat of combat. It was a deliberate attack on non-combatants.

He published a trove of US diplomatic cables, which did not include secret missile launch codes, information about the defenses of key installations or the names of spies. He had offered to consult with the US government to avoid inadvertent publication of such details, but was rebuffed. Those cables laid out, in general, a long-running foreign policy based largely on lies.

In the USA and among US citizens living abroad, and within the branches and agencies o the US government itself, there are broad and diverse movements for peace, for official transparency, for human rights and accountability when these are denied. The people who think this way are far more likely to vote for Democrats than for Republicans.

No doubt some of the alleged Democratic wonks who believe in throwaway people and expendable votes will advise President Biden that antiwar Democrats have no other place to go, that protection of political reputations is the essence of national security and those who blow whistles are traitors, that people acting for the government have right and power to brutalize or kill anybody and are immune from answering for it. So it’s an acceptable and even advisable campaign strategy to offend the Black Lives Matter folks, the peace movement, the pro-transparency groups and the piranha school of journalists in all sorts of media who uphold truth as the first principle.

They have it all arranged. Where else can these people go? They OWE their votes to the Democrats, right?

That sort of thinking, of course, lost the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump.

Biden should not inject an old bureaucratic fight with Julian Assange into the midterm election campaign. He should just drop the charges and let the Australian muckraker go on his way.


                           Hannibal Barca counts the rings of Roman soldiers killed in
                           the Battle of Cannae, 1704 sculpture by Sébastien Slodtz.

                    I will either find a way, or make one.


Bear in mind…


Champions keep playing until they get it right.

Billie Jean King



We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.

Dorothy Day



Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

Albert Einstein



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