Project SyndicateProject Syndicate

Peace requires betrayal

By Shlomo Ben-Ami

20 Mar 2023 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

Volodymyr Zelensky faces an excruciating dilemma, a former Israeli foreign minister writes in PS. To end the war with Russia, he'll likely have to negotiate a settlement that's bound to be unpopular.

TEL AVIV – In 1795, German philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote that perpetual peace could come either through diplomacy or a “war of extermination” that annihilates all parties and leaves only the “vast burial ground of the human race.” Historically, humanity has tended to favor the latter, at least until the ravages of war forced warring states to come to an accommodation. And even then, bold leadership was needed to end the bloodshed.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s courage as a wartime leader is undeniable. But Zelensky is also a hostage of his political environment. Against a ruthless invading army, his political (and perhaps physical) survival depends on his steadfast commitment to total Russian defeat.

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