Henry Kissinger, just shy of 99 years old, still has it in him to issue a foreign-policy take that infuriates a lot of people. Ukraine, he said while speaking at (where else?) Davos, should be willing to trade territory for peace. That sounds a lot like appeasement, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wasted no time in rebuking him. “You get the impression that Mr. Kissinger doesn’t have 2022 on his calendar, but 1938, and that he thinks he is talking to an audience not in Davos but in Munich back then.”
But Kissinger isn’t alone in this opinion; the New York Times editorial board made a similar case a week earlier. Calling on the Ukrainians to be “realistic,” the Times said that Ukraine would likely lose territory and that Kyiv should act before Americans, in effect, get bored with the whole mess. “Confronting this reality may be painful,” they wrote, “but it is not appeasement.”
If you have to say “This is not appeasement,” it’s probably appeasement.
Worse yet are the people who insist that Russia’s “interests” should be taken into account here, as if “Russia” and not Putin started this war. (I mean, of course, people like Professor John Mearsheimer, among others.) These arguments dovetail into warnings that we should not encourage any further humiliation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. That ship has sailed (and sunk): Putin and the Russian military are already plenty humiliated. And as Ambassador Stephen Sestanovich recently quipped on Twitter: “Exactly how much Ukrainian territory does Putin get to keep to avoid being humiliated? (And does he get to decide?)”