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Neutrality isn't a moral foreign policy — To prevent endless war, we must stand tall for freedom

"Failure to uphold and respect all nations' sovereignty and territorial integrity is a recipe for bloodshed and destruction."

Dr. Bob Lorinser is a retired member of the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Services. The use of his diplomatic rank, job titles, and photographs depicting government entities does not imply endorsement by the Department of the State or the Foreign Services.

CHERNOBYL, Ukraine — Without a moral foreign policy based on ethical grounds, the United States would not be a world leader. Our global actions must be founded on justice, courage, integrity, equality under the law, Democratic freedom, temperance, and unity. Without these principles, all of our international policies will fall on deaf ears.

This is the foundation of our decision-making in the Foreign Service as diplomats, and I urge world leaders to apply it to the Ukraine crisis.

— Important facts —

From the perspective of International Law:

We need to honor our commitment as a signatory of the Budapest Memorandum from 1994. This agreement guarantees security for Ukraine, conditional on nuclear non-proliferation. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the then-newly independent country surrendered leftover nuclear weapons in exchange for security assurances, political independence, and territorial integrity.

From a social and political viewpoint:

The social divisions that gripped our nation and others over the last 25 years — along with the growth of populist threats to our democracy — have facilitated Putin and the Russian government's aggression.

From an economic perspective:

In 2013, Russia's GDP was $2.4 trillion. After Crimea sanctions, it plummeted to $1.2 trillion in 2016 and hovers around $1.4 trillion today.

Under Putin's leadership, Russia cannot grow without taking from others. He is seeking to repair his failed state by annexing other countries. Countries that make up the former Soviet Union could nearly double Russia's monetary and market value.

From a diplomatic stance:

Wednesday, the American Foreign Service Association stated, "[We] watched in horror as Russia shattered the post-WWII and post-Cold War settlements."

The world order was stabilized after the fall of the Soviet Union with established rules:

  • No forcible change of borders.

  • Respect for every nation's sovereignty.

  • Respect territorial integrity.

  • Reject historical grievances as justification for aggression.

As Kenyan U.N. Ambassador Martin Kimani so eloquently stated at the Security Council, "Failure to uphold and respect all current borders is a recipe for bloody chaos and endless war."

The United States must act without military intervention or endangering U.S. troops. The blame for aggression lies solely with the Russian government and not its citizens. Therefore, the United States must target and punish Putin and his cronies. These sanctions need to be strong, durable and imposed immediately.

Secondly, we cannot resist the Russian government alone. It is essential we work with all of our international allies in unity.

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest... We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." ― Elie Wiesel, Holocaust Survivor, Nobel Laureate

With the exception of President Trump, every former living U.S. president — Democrat and Republican — supports censuring Vladimir Putin.

"People of conscience around the world need to loudly and clearly condemn Russia's actions and offer support for the Ukrainian people," said President Obama. "And every American, regardless of party, should support President Biden's efforts, in coordination with our closest allies, to impose hard-hitting sanctions on Russia – sanctions that impose a real price on Russia's autocratic elites."

Now is the time for the United States of America to lead. We must be united and steadfast in our resolve, confident in our morality, and determined to win the peace and prosperity that all people of conscience seek.

— Dr. Bob Lorinser


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