Away From the Abyss
Leading interventionists in the United States and Europe are goading the West into an abyss of war and suffering, from which there can be no easy return. We, the undersigned, inhabit a wide range of political opinions and disagree about many things. But on this one urgent point, we speak as one: The crisis created by Russia’s war on Ukraine demands de-escalation, not imperial aggrandizement and schemes of regime change.
It calls for prudence, not self-righteous posturing.
Russia’s wrongful invasion has the potential to spark a wider European conflict, drawing in NATO and pitting the world’s largest nuclear powers against each other. The risks inherent in such scenarios should be high enough to render them unthinkable. Yet too many in the West pursue escalation, over and against the interests of millions.
Foremost among the victims are the Ukrainian people. They bear the brunt of Russia’s aggression and of the attempt to bog down Moscow in a long, devastating insurgency. Ordinary Russians, meanwhile, are caught in the dragnet of indiscriminate Western sanctions. Crude anti-Russian attacks—directed against artists, athletes, and others in the Russian diaspora who bear no responsibility for Kremlin actions—threaten to embitter a generation. If escalation continues, the ranks of victims will swell further, to include, potentially, many billions in the Global South immiserated by food, fuel, and other commodity shortages and rising inflation.
Some Western leaders are inviting still larger catastrophes with fantasies of “regime change” in Moscow. The rest of us must resist. Therefore,
- we urge the Biden administration to focus on an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, as a prelude to good-faith negotiations toward a permanent peace that takes into account Ukraine’s right to self-determination and Russia’s legitimate security needs;
- we urge the White House and Western allies to keep open channels of dialogue and diplomacy to Moscow on all issues;
- and we call on President Biden to reiterate unequivocally that regime change in Moscow is not a US policy goal.
President Biden recently described the confrontation with Moscow as a long war “between democracy and autocracy.” Similarly grandiose rhetoric ensnared the West in the quicksand of the Middle East after 9/11, costing hundreds of thousands of lives and untold treasure. Before replicating those mistakes, we must step back from the abyss. We ask people of goodwill everywhere to join us in saying No to the illogic of escalation.
* Individuals have signed in their personal capacities, using affiliations for identification purposes only.
- Sohrab Ahmari - Compact
- Helen Andrews - The American Conservative
- Michael Anton - The Claremont Institute
- Edwin Aponte - Compact
- Dan Caldwell - Stand Together
- Vivek Chibber - New York University
- Freddie deBoer - Independent Journalist
- Patrick Deneen - University of Notre Dame
- Emile Doak - The American Conservative
- Thomas Fazi - Independent Journalist
- Ashley Frawley - Swansea University
- David Goldman - Asia Times
- Pedro Gonzalez - Chronicles
- Glenn Greenwald - Independent Journalist
- Josh Hammer - Newsweek
- Mary Harrington - UnHerd
- George Hoare - Independent Journalist
- Murtaza Hussain - The Intercept
- Elena Louisa Lange - University of Zurich
- Daniel J. Mahoney - Assumption University (Emeritus)
- Sean McMeekin - Bard College
- Shant Mesrobian - Inquire
- Arta Moeini - Institute for Peace & Diplomacy
- Samuel Moyn - Yale Law School
- Angela Nagle - Independent Journalist
- Gladden Pappin - University of Dallas
- Darel Paul - Williams College
- Chad Pecknold - Catholic University of America
- Nina Power - Compact
- Christopher Rufo - Writer and Activist
- Matthew Schmitz - Compact
- Geoff Shullenberger - New York University
- Ryan Williams - The Claremont Institute