Walter Moss: Today, as conflicts and bloodshed occur in Ukraine (and Gaza, Syria, and elsewhere), we wonder why in the past century we have advanced so little in our ability to prevent such senseless wars.
Walter Moss: Gorbachev and Reagan found a way to end the Cold War. Presidents Putin and Obama need to follow their example.
Walter Moss: Trying to figure out exactly what the United States should do in international situations is often complex and difficult, and we average citizens without expertise need to be sufficiently humble.
Walter Moss: A new Russia policy is necessary not only because of the present tensions surrounding Russian-Ukrainian relations—important as they are—and because our adversarial relationship is hurting us in many ways , but also because our relations with Russia remains vital to our global interests.
Walter Moss: We are not doing anyone—ourselves or members of younger generations—any good by equating old with bad and young with good. Every age has its plusses and minuses and should be embraced with all the joy and aliveness we can muster.
Walter Moss: Is it not now time for the USA, a country that prides itself on innovation, to come up with its own new-thinking foreign policy, at least in regard to Russia?
Walter Moss: But if leaders’ lack of wisdom and humility can lead to errors, despite all the intelligence at their disposal, so too can our lack of these qualities lead us to undervalue expertise.
Walter Moss: The top priority for many Ukrainians, west and east, is overcoming economic misery and political corruption and unresponsiveness to their problems. And Poroshenko has recognized that unemployment and poverty have exacerbated discontent in the east and elsewhere.
Walter Moss: “I think a sense of humor and a sense of the absurd reflects a balance and a perspective on the world that is very healthy. Of all the presidents that I worked for, there are only two who had no discernible sense of humor: Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. I rest my case.”
Walter Moss: The main stumbling block preventing closer ties has not been any bad personal chemistry, but the legacy of Cold-War and 1990s suspicions and resentments.
Walter Moss: As with judging any foreign policy action, we citizens first need to know what’s going on. But as Shakespeare’s Hamlet said, “ay, there’s the rub!”
Walter Moss: The most basic Ukrainian problem is not Russian interference in Ukrainian affairs—which no doubt exists—but the absence of a strong national consensus among Ukrainians. What strengthening may result from proposed constitutional reforms and a new presidential election scheduled for 25 May, provided they occur, is unknown.
Walter Moss: The history of Ukrainian territory is extremely complex and involves not only ethnic Ukrainians, but others such as Jewish people. The focus here, however, is on the background of Ukrainian-Russian relations.