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Peace in NATO-Russian War in Ukraine

As President of the United States, I will immediately begin making efforts at peace in what I will call the NATO-Russian War in Ukraine. While no action of the United States can single-handedly bring peace in this conflict, we have tremendous power to create conditions of peace. Upon taking office, I will direct our State Department to reach out to Presidents Zelensky of Ukraine and Putin of Russia, asking for personal meetings with me. In these meetings, I will ask what, in their view, caused the war and what can be done to end it. I believe it is critically important to get direct information from specific persons to understand their views. From this information we can formulate a principled approach to ending the war.

While it is important to ask the questions directly, I do not anticipate any great surprises as to the reasons for the war and the means to end it. I will outline my understanding of the conflict and what the United States can morally do about it.

The current conflict is a great-power conflict that stems from the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. At that time, there was a debate in the United States and NATO powers about expanding NATO eastward, absorbing former Soviet Republics into the western sphere. During that debate, Russia chimed in and made clear that the expansion of NATO was viewed as an aggressive and intolerable act. Western nations ignored Russia's objections and proceeded to expand the military alliance over the next 17 years.

In 2008, it was announced that Ukraine was slated to form closer ties with NATO and to join the European Union. Ukraine was to orbit a western sphere. Russia made clear that this was considered an existential threat. And let me be clear, I'm not personally suggesting that Russia is making a claim that is morally right. But I can obviously understand that Russia is making a military claim. There has never been any doubt about Russia's stance. There is also no doubt that the United States fully understood that if Ukraine was to join NATO that Russia would respond militarily. The record on these understandings are globally accessible and clear. Russia prominently stated they would never allow Ukraine to join NATO.

After the war in the Crimea in 2014, the situation was unchanged. Russia was adamant that Ukraine not join NATO. Conversely, the United States was adamant that Ukraine continue on the road to joining NATO. After a period of relative peace, Russia attacked Ukraine in 2022 and has been fighting a deadly war since then. The United States and other NATO countries have supplied arms to Ukraine to continue the fight. I believe that the United States, in conjunction with other NATO nations and Ukraine herself, created the exact conditions that Russia stated she would find as cause for war.

I believe this was a needless provocation leading to war. Secondly, I believe this war makes the United States weaker morally, financially, and strategically. The conflict with Russia is the exact opposite of the position we ought to be taking. As such, I aim to do everything possible to bring it to a rapid conclusion. While that might not be possible, I aim secondly to take the actions that robustly increase our moral, financial, and strategic position. I aim to form a relationship of peace, cultural exchange, trade, and partnership with Russia.

Shortly before President John Kennedy's assassination, he outlined a plan to bring the Cold War to an intentional end. He conceived of an era of cooperation with Soviet Russia. His plans included controversial goals such as cooperative space flights and limits on nuclear testing. Privately, he also planned to withdraw from the Vietnam War after his reelection. If President Kennedy had not been murdered, the lives of many thousands of American soldiers would have been saved. That pointless war would likely have been brought to an end, before the greatest of its horrors were made. Now decades later, I plan to continue Kennedy's vision of peace and cooperation with Russia. This is the right course for America.

Doing the right thing doesn't mean that others will too. At times, the amount of rightness that can be done is limited if someone else doesn't also act rightly. There are considerations that we cannot injure ourselves or place ourselves in harm's way just to blindly "do the right thing." But no matter what any other nation does, there are right things that the United States can do, all on our own. But we cannot also delude ourselves that we must continue doing wrong because we cannot find a way to extricate ourselves from an ongoing wrong. We must do right that suits us morally, legally, financially, and strategically.

Here is a brief list of objectives I have to end our involvement in the Russia-Ukraine War:

  1. Immediately prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and express that the United States will not allow Ukraine to join. This will of course be limited somewhat by my term as president. To this end, I will work to make Ukraine's possible NATO membership moot, as far as the United States is concerned.

  2. Immediately begin efforts for the United States to permanently leave NATO. While a president cannot directly withdraw the US from NATO, much can be done by a president that nullifies the relationship. The grounds for leaving NATO are clear: Europe can defend Europe.

  3. America will stop funding Ukraine to continue the war. However, I believe by making good on my intent for items 1 and 2 above, that Russia will have good reason to end the war.

  4. Eliminate trade barriers between Russia and the United States.

  5. Eliminate sanctions on Russia and persons in Russia.

  6. Return seized property to Russian persons.

  7. Consider the return of Russian nationals to Russia, who are imprisoned in the United States.

  8. Allow free cultural exchange between our two nations.

  9. Promote plans for increased cooperation in the Arctic, through the Arctic Council and other venues.

After accomplishing just the first two items on the list, there is strong evidence to believe that the war will come to a rapid end. And of course, Russia may feel it is to her advantage to simply pause in the war, that can be resumed at a later time. Just as Russia initiated the war two years ago, there is nothing stopping her from pausing and resuming based on strategic considerations. But as long as the direction I outlined above is followed by subsequent US presidents and our Congress, then there is good reason to believe that Russia and Ukraine will continue in peace.

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