“The wiser of the two equally matched opponents will give up first.”
This is a Romanian proverb oftentimes interpreted as a justification/rationalization for cowardly behavior.
It’s anything but!
In a protracted conflict, where none of the opponents has a clear advantage or when the price of wining would be so huge that no one is willing to underwrite it, it is essential that at least one of the interested parties comes up with something new that might defuse the situation. Otherwise the whole thing drags on, people get bitter and calloused and what might have started as a misadventure or as a badly calculated move eventually becomes a festering wound that changes, for the worse, the life of many generations to come.
Think of what happens when two families become embroiled in a ‘vendetta’.
Or about the outcome of the WWI when the people of Germany were punished for the ‘mishaps’ perpetrated by Kaiser Wilhelm.
After WWII the victors have built on previous experience and didn’t fell anymore in the same trap. Instead of inflicting further pain on the already tormented German population they came up with the Marshal Plan. Now, 70 years after the allies landed in Normandy, it would be inconceivable that war might start again between France and Germany. The victors of the Cold War weren’t as wise as their predecessors.
What is happening right now in Ukraine is completely unacceptable. Occupying, in full or in part, the territory of another country, under any pretext, puts the aggressor outside the realm of the civilized world.
Especially so if the action was unprovoked and/or the occupation is presented by the aggressor as permanent.
But who is the aggressor in this case?
Not so long ago (historically speaking) Louis the XIV-th used to say “L’Etat c’est Moi”. In those times political decisions, including those that had to do with the neighboring states, were made by the rulers while the general population could do nothing but endure their effects. Up to a point of course.
Meanwhile in a large number of states the political system has evolved considerable. Elections are held periodically so that political leaders and general policies become sanctioned by the electorate. Because of this most of the time there is a certain compact, however fragile and contested, between the political class and the general population.
Unfortunately there still are a number of states where the political situation is ‘ambiguous’ and where the link between the powerful figures of the day and the general public relies more on deceit than on mutual respect and informed consent.
Whenever a country like this is involved in a less than savory encounter on the international scene a very fine line has to be toed when communicating displeasure with its actions. While firm and unambiguous each message must be very carefully calibrated/formulated otherwise the general population of the less than democratic country involved will feel besieged and will naturally coalesce around whoever is in power at that moment. Exactly what that person would wish for and exactly what those who are displeased by his actions should try to avoid at any cost.
Protesters outside Russian Embassy in Kyiv overturn cars, throw eggs, tear down Russian flag (VIDEO)
Besides, what is that ‘pro-Russian rebels’? Are they doing any real favor for Russia? Then why call them ‘pro-Russian’?
In modern terms the whole concept is called re-framing.
And yes, it involves ‘giving up’ in the sense that the ‘wiser’ makes the gambit of renouncing rigidness and maybe even some ‘face’ in exchange for a workable solution.
Any incurred costs are temporary while the benefits tend to stretch far out into the future.
I repeat, just look at what role Germany is currently playing in the European concert.