The Just War of the Ukrainians

By Michael Walzer, Professor Emeritus in the School of Social Science:

"'A conqueror,' wrote the military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, 'is always a lover of peace. He would like to make his entry into our state unopposed; in order to prevent this, we must choose to fight.' The crime of aggression is to force men and women to make that choice. They can, of course, choose not to fight, as Czechoslovakia did in 1938 when it was betrayed by its allies and left to face Nazi Germany alone. But most people believe that the right choice is to defend your country.

Vladimir Putin apparently believed that the Ukrainians would choose not to fight against Russian invasion—because, he claimed, its inhabitants were really Russians, or because Ukraine was ruled by Nazis and its citizens would welcome liberation. If either of those beliefs had been true, we might not call the Russian war aggression. But the Ukrainians have proven them false. They have proven the value of Ukrainian statehood and the reality of Ukrainian democracy by fighting and dying to defend both."

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