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Ukraine Cannot Balance the Risk of Revenge With the Safety of Billions of People

No one can get past the fact that the risk of a world war is far too high.

5 min readDec 29, 2022


“I’m sorry, I’m reminding — I’m talking about children a lot today. But as a father, I would like to emphasize: You know how many parents lost their sons or daughters on the frontlines? So, what is just peace for them? Money is nothing. And no compensations or reparations are of no consequence. They live by revenge (inaudible). I think this is a tremendous tragedy.” — Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, White House Press Briefing, December 21, 2022

The consensus I have seen among the proponents of escalating the war in Ukraine is that Russia must be stopped. But they don’t stop there. Some have hinted that Russia must undergo regime change so that they never do what they did to Ukraine, or any other country, again.

They see Russia in its current state as a threat. While some say it will be enough to defeat Russia, some will admit that the ultimate goal is permanently to alter Russia so that it is no longer a threat.

A few fans of escalation claim to know just how much force is needed to do the job. Nearly all of them are confident that America can eviscerate Russia if the need for direct confrontation became apparent. They are confident that America has the conventional forces needed to repel Russia from Ukraine given enough manpower and hardware.

Of the people who say that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and purport to know more than I do about Ukraine, Russia, geopolitics, or whatever, none of them can say how much is enough. And I don’t see any certainty among them that their goals, their theories of victory, can be accomplished without further risk to the safety of the Western nations.

No one can guarantee that if we press further, the war will not widen. No one can guarantee that the present war will not eventually engulf Europe. No one knows for sure if other countries won’t back Russia with significant game-changing assistance.

No one knows for sure that the war will not turn into a nuclear war.

All of this risk for 42 million people in Ukraine. The world now has 8 billion…