Actually, It’s a Good Time To Go Wobbly on Ukraine

Storer Rowley, former foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, gets a lot wrong on his Trib op-ed “America must stand firm against Russia. This is no time to go wobbly.”

He’s right to call Russia’s war brutal and criminal. But calling it “unprovoked” is ludicrous. He omits from his analysis US/NATO plans to extend NATO through Ukraine up to Russia’s borders, allowing nuclear weapons to be minutes away from Moscow. That is provocation on steroids. He ignores US support, encouragement of the 2014 coup that ousted Russian leaning Ukraine president Victor Yanukovych, setting off civil war with Russian speaking Ukrainians in the Donbas. Together, these provocations made Russia’s war, while illegal and criminal, inevitable.

Storer’s lauding President Biden’s diplomacy in the war is preposterous as Biden has explicitly prohibited diplomacy to negotiate a ceasefire and eventual peace settlement. Storer apparently considers diplomacy to include sending top UK and US officials to Kiev in March to instruct, demand actually, Ukraine President Zelensky cease negotiation with Russia and Turkey for a quick end to the war.

Storer is also wrong to disparage Republican and Democratic lawmakers calling for negotiations and ending America’s blank check of support currently soaring towards $100 billion. Unlike, Storer, they understand endless US weapons, with no negotiations, merely prolongs the war, ensuring Ukraine descends further into failed state status. Yet, Storer, like all perpetual war cheerleaders, minimizes the enormous Ukraine destruction enabled by US weapons prolonging the war. He further exaggerates Russian weakness to present a plausible scenario of a totally implausible Ukraine victory.

To bolster his case for endless US military support, Storer resorts to the preposterous charge all pro-war pundits trot out, that Russia is hell bent to re-establish the Russian empire.

Finally, but possibly most important, Storer uses a rhetorical trick to claim the US populous supports unlimited military support with no negotiations. He cites a poll that supports “continuing humanitarian and security assistance to Ukraine.” But that poll refers neither to negotiations nor end to the blank check on weaponizing Ukraine. To the contrary, a recent poll conducted for the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft found likely voters, by 57% to 32 %, strongly support US pursuing diplomatic negotiations as soon as possible to end the war even if it requires Ukraine making compromises with Russia.

If going wobbly on Ukraine means ending the war and further destruction of Ukraine by using sensible negotiations rather than a blank check on weapons prolonging it, I proclaim, “Let’s wobble.” Storer Rowley should as well.

Walt Zlotow became involved in antiwar activities upon entering University of Chicago in 1963. He is current president of the West Suburban Peace Coalition based in the Chicago western suburbs. He blogs daily on antiwar and other issues at

13 thoughts on “Actually, It’s a Good Time To Go Wobbly on Ukraine”

  1. “Together, these provocations made Russia’s war, while illegal and criminal, inevitable.”

    I have a hard time wrapping my head about how the provocations made the invasion inevitable and illegal/criminal at the same time. Wouldn’t the inevitability part make it something that had to be done?

    1. Talk of “provocations” is an ancient Russian trick: they even used alleged “provocations at the border” as a pretext to launch a massive war against Finland in 1940 while the infamous non-aggression pact was in force. As though Finns would provoke such an overwhelmingly more powerful country!

      The plain fact is that Russia encouraged a rebellion in the Donbas after the 2014 Maidan incident, and then intervened with troops when the insurgents were losing. After that, the insurgency and counterinsurgency cost both sides dearly: the death toll, according to official UN statistics for the 2014-2020 period was: 3375 civilians, ca. 4150 Ukrainian soldiers, and ca. 5700 Russian troops and local insurgents.

    2. The invasion came in two steps, with Russian troops pouring into the faraway Donbas starting on February 21 to massively reinforce the insurgents and the troops already there. That part was probably neither illegal nor criminal, but it was a provocation far greater than the one the article talks about.

      The second step, the massive escalation of the war on February 24, billed as a crusade against the “illegal puppet regime,” can easily be seen in hindsight as criminal aggression. Propagandists on the Putin’s side, including the Russian Orthodox Patriarch, typically fail to distinguish between the February 21 and the February 24 attacks. It was the latter that brought denunciations from Russia’s two best friends in Europe, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Czech President Milos Zeman:

    3. ++++
      The statements made in the article reflect a serious lack of understanding of international conflict, in particular in cases where a state concludes that its security is being threatened by other states. The right of self-defense is sacrosanct.

      Some idiots seem to believe that self-defense is only justified in the presence of aggressive military attacks which penetrate the boundaries of the nation under attack. In the case of a nuclear attack, such hesitation would render the notion of self-defense moot.

      1. I have no problem with self-defense, I’m not nonviolent (which is unnatural, all animals and even plants defend themselves). However, I’m anti-war and I oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We clearly disagree on this, because you consider that invasion to be self-defense. I’ve been wrestling with that concept regarding Russia’s invasion. Where does one draw the line in a situation like this between legitimate self-defense and an immoral or illegal invasion? To be clear, I support Russia in just about every aspect of this except for its invasion of Ukraine, so it seems we agree except for the invasion.

      1. Infinitely more justified, because the U.S. had no justification whatsoever, same with its invasion of Afghanistan and every other country that it has invaded.

    4. I’m anti-war, so I oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine just like I oppose the U.S. or any other country invading anyone. I fully understand that the U.S. is the cause of this war for the reasons I list below, but I can’t support any country invading another country.

      I’ve been asked what Russia was to do about all the NATO expansion, placing nuclear weapons and other missiles near Russia’s border, the murders of ethnic Russians by the government of Ukraine and Ukrainian Nazis, the threat of Ukraine joining NATO, etc. I’m not a leader nor an advisor to any leader in Russia or anywhere else, so I have no responsibility to figure that out. That’s the job of the leaders and their advisors, that’s what they’re getting paid for. One idea would be to work with China and India to pressure the U.S. to stop expanding NATO, which should have been done decades ago. Just an idea, again I’m not in a position of power nor privy to secret information I might need in order to know how to combat U.S./NATO expansion. Regardless, I’m against anyone invading and/or making war on anyone else, no exceptions that apply in reality.

  2. A great first step, easy to take and with minimal risk, would be for NATO to renounce any future membership by Ukraine. It’s obvious that NATO is willing to help Ukraine with ample weapons to prevent a Russian victory, and the only difference would be something no one seems to want anyway: direct involvement in the war by NATO.

    A more difficult second step would be to arrange for free elections in the Donbas and Crimea under full impartial international supervision, for the sole aim of determining whether each these three territories (Crimea and two in the Donbas) want independence, or being part of Russia, or being part of Ukraine.

    Both Russia and Ukraine would be against it at first, but the huge losses on both sides might be enough to bring them to the negotiating table. They might ultimately leave independence off the ballot, and that would also be OK.

  3. I agree with this post except for the following equivocations. I don’t understand why progressives feel they must equivocate all the time.

    1. It’s not “Russia’s war,” that’s propaganda and a lie. It’s Ukraine’s war, started in 2014, and Russia merely entered it by invading Ukraine.

    2. Relatively, Russia has not been “brutal” militarily in Ukraine. They have shown exponentially more restraint than the U.S. ever showed in all of its illegal and actually brutal wars. This comment is just more U.S. propaganda. Calling Russia’s military actions in Ukraine names like this just makes Americans baselessly hate Russia more than they’re already been brainwashed to do by the constant Russiagate lies.

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