A modest proposal for ending the war in Ukraine
Vladimir Putin has enough bombs and rockets to flatten every major city in Ukraine, but the Ukrainian people seem determined to fight for every block and building. It's beginning to appear that Putin has made a "massive miscalculation," as Boris Johnson has observed and that he may fail in his attempt to conquer Ukraine. But Putin can never admit his mistake. Dictators who admit mistakes tend not to last very long.
So the war rumbles on, rubble grows thick, combatants and civilians die, Ukrainians flee, and Russians become destitute. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is likened to Churchill, while Putin is compared to Hitler. He's become a pariah who will never again be invited to join the polite company of Western leaders. Former friends and allies will shun him. And the Russian people will continue to suffer, so long as he remains their leader.
Putin sees no way out. He is beginning to understand how Hitler must have felt in the bunker, and he may be wondering if things would have turned out differently if Hitler had had the bomb. For the time being, however, he must continue to prosecute this terrible, pointless war, unless...
I submit a modest proposal that could tempt Putin to stop waging war by giving him the face-saving incentive he needs. It would cost nothing. It would save tens of thousands of lives and tens of billions of dollars. And it just might avert WWIII.
I propose that Vladimir Putin be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize after he announces the end of hostilities and withdraws his troops.
This isn't as crazy as it sounds. If Putin did end the war, he actually would qualify for the prize, which is officially awarded "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." (Incidentally, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has no provisions for disqualifying people who start wars.)
Putin would be an unusual pick, to say the least. But the Nobel Committee has made a number of unusual picks in recent decades. In 1994, it awarded the prize to Yasser Arafat.
In 2002, former president Jimmy Carter won the prize, not because he promoted peace, but because he opposed the policies of then-president Bush 45. "It should be interpreted as a criticism of the line that the current administration has taken," confided Nobel Committee Chairman Gunnar Berge. "It's a kick in the leg to all that follow the same line as the United States."
In 2007, the Committee awarded the prize to Al Gore for "efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change[.]"
In 2009, the prize went to one-term U.S. senator and newly elected U.S. president Barack Obama, for being Barack Obama.
So awarding the Peace Prize to Vladimir Putin would not further disgrace the noble committee. Nothing could.
If Putin were to announce the cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of troops, the world would breathe a huge sigh of relief. When the Committee announces Putin's award shortly thereafter, people will be shocked and horrified. But not for long. Attention spans are short in the twenty-first century.
Nobel laureate Vladimir Putin could then explain to the Russian people, credibly, that his military excursion had been a peacekeeping operation that had accomplished its peaceful objective, and that peace reigns once again. President Vladimir Putin would appreciate that he'd been given a rare gift — a second chance to remain in power. Commander-in-chief Vladimir Putin would realize that, insofar as his massive military is massively incompetent and the whole world knows it, he must never attack another country again.
In short, giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Vladimir Putin would do far greater good for far more people than any other prize ever awarded. And this brings me to my second proposal.
If this all works out as I predict, I think the next Nobel Peace Prize should be given to me.
Image: Nobel Foundation.