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I do not want World War III

People have short and selective memories.  Europe was not an oasis of peace after World War II and Ukraine is not the first large war scene in Europe after this war. There were several local wars in Europe after the defeat of Nazi Germany. The last one was in Yugoslavia in the 1990’s. A civil war between various ethnic groups broke out after the death of Marshall Tito. Russia was in shambles after the disintegration of the USSR, and Yugoslavia was bombarded by the allied forces with impunity and without mercy under the mantle of protecting minority rights. (Is there a place on Earth where there are not oppressed groups or minorities?) The result was the emergence of six independent new states in Europe: Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo, which – in one way or another – are in the process of integration into the European Union. The Democratic world was lucky here (They were less lucky in Libya …)

There is now another civil war in Ukraine. Again, there are minorities that are not happy being under the central rule of Kyiv. They are concentrated in two self-proclaimed new republics: Donetsk and Luhansk. Let us apply the Yugoslavian model and accept their independence.

Of course, there is one difference: the former Yugoslavian provinces moved towards the European Union and are partially adopting the democratic rules of government. Donetsk and Luhansk will move towards Russia and will adopt the autocratic model of government. But this is better than having constant ethnic or national frictions that can degenerate in local wars at any moment. Democracy cannot and should not be imposed by force: it might take more time for Donetsk and Luhansk to move towards a democracy, but this is preferred over a civil war at the border with Russia.

And then, there is Russia. Again, democracy cannot be imposed by force upon Russia: Russians will have to solve their problems by themselves. Europe and the US should strive towards civil societies – in the Democratic countries and in Russia – where ideas can be discussed in the open and people can move freely: this cannot be done in a climate of constant tensions and the specter of war.

We do not live in an ideal world: Russia has legitimate security concerns. Ukraine should not join NATO and be essentially a demilitarized state. This is a small price that the Ukrainian people must accept. Ukraine can have strong economic and cultural ties to Western Europe and thrive as a democracy, and have a small defensive armed force without the need to join any alliance. Donetsk and Luhansk should also be demilitarized.

This is a better solution than having a nuclear war: Do not underestimate the miscalculations, madness and egos of the political elites that could lead to this unthinkable result.

About the Author
Jaime Kardontchik has a PhD in Physics from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. He lives in the Silicon Valley, California.
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