Paradigm for Peace Applied to Ukraine: Proposal for a Peaceful Pathway Forward

Part 1: Introduction

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that Western nations will continue “moving Heaven and Earth” to send weapons to Ukraine in its war against Russia. 1 While they may be moving Earth, it’s doubtful they’re moving Heaven, which could very well be enraged at US policymakers’ habit of seizing for itself divine powers to inflict massive amounts of death whenever conflict looms on the horizon. For good reason, so much power was never intended to be in the hands of mere mortals.

US policymakers are responding to the current crisis in Ukraine with weapon shipments. They responded to the outbreak of Ukraine’s civil war in 2014 with weapon shipments. In fact, the very factors that provoked Russia to invade Ukraine in the first place pertain precisely to Western weapons: the West’s obsessive clinging to militarism in the form of NATO expansion, missile launchers at bases in Eastern Europe, NATO joint military training with nations along Russia’s borders, and shipments of billions in dollars of weapons to help Ukraine attack Donetsk and Lugansk. There have also been reports of US private military contractors training far right-wing extremists in Ukraine during the civil war.2 In addition, Russia accuses the US of developing biological weapons in Ukraine.3 and Russia accuses forces loyal to Kiev of preparing to launch a chemical attack in Ukraine. 4

If Western weapons provoked Russia, why, then, would more Western weapons be the solution?

For those who can’t think outside the box of 245 years of US foreign policy grounded in weaponry, war, and greed, weapons are the answer. It’s like a home on a hot summer day that has only one thing in the fridge: weapons.

For 245 years, the US government has been like an ostrich with its head in the sand, refusing to see the immense damage inflicted upon society and the planet by its unwarranted, magical faith in weapons. Refusing to see, it’s unable to learn and therefore persists in its habit of responding to foreign threats, not with efforts to reduce tension and increase harmony between opposing sides, but with weapons, threats, and the escalation of tension.

When foreign nations are immersed in civil wars, US policymakers never impartially seek reconciliation between all sides. Instead, they perpetually take sides to further their own ulterior motives, hence the need to send weapons to help one side kill off and dominate the other, as if one side is so good and the other side so evil that one deserves to kill and the other deserves to be killed. US policymakers then cut off communication with the enemy, thus further preventing the ability to understand the enemy’s point of view—and making all the more possible a blackout of truth within the US that in turn bolsters the perception of the enemy as malicious and deserving of death.

Yet every one of these steps is a backward step away from peace and away from truth and understanding. Why should we apply on the international level forms of human relations that we would never condone at the level of personal, local, or national relations? Why should we allow violence to determine who will acquire which resources and markets, when violence would never be accepted as a tool to allow one US corporation to take over the market of another?

Our goal should be reconciliation between both sides, not conquest of one side over the other. And the power we need isn’t technological power but a power that has been Missing in Action amongst US foreign policymakers for 245 years: the power of hearts, minds, and spirits to foster across lines of conflict qualities of love, truth, peace, understanding, and joy. The power and will needed to adhere to such qualities and pursue non-violent solutions of conflict resolution and reconciliation can be compared to that of a hero clinging to the side of a cliff, struggling to reach a branch just overhead, and determined not to fall but to keep trying, no matter what. But instead of that hero, we have President Joe Biden, who recently decided that Americans have to fork over an additional $33 billion in military aid to help Ukraine wage war for US policymakers against Russia.5

Rather than applying backward, dysfunctional forms of human relations to international conflict, let’s place our consciousness in our hearts, turn on our brain power, and impartially, logically, cooperatively, and peacefully address the roots of violence on all sides of conflict.

While there are many approaches to non-violent conflict resolution, I’ll provide a condensed analysis here using my own model in the hope that it may help with the current crisis, if anyone is listening at all. This essay was hard to keep down to size because more and more issues, examples, and perspectives can always be found. However, I trust that this abbreviated analysis, as imperfect as it may be, can enable us to take several leaps forward in a helpful direction across the stepping stones of the river, and I hope that Readers can add to this their own knowledge and insights to further this analysis and develop the national and international resolve to seek cooperative, non-violent conflict resolution.

The autumn of 9/11, I created a model called Paradigm for Peace which has four parts: the Defensive and Aggressive Roots of Violence; the Mental, Legal, and Physical Escalators of Violence, Three Facets of Solutions, and a Cooperative “Quest” Attitude of Thought and Dialogue. I spent the next twenty years writing a multi-volume work on foreign policy and peace in which I applied the model primarily to the Mid-East/US conflicts, but also to other conflicts, including the Cold War, Nazi Germany, and the US Civil War.

This fourth element, the cooperative quest attitude, is the model’s underlying and ever-present dynamic. Participants in dialogue and conflict resolution strive to uphold attitudes of bold amiability, curiosity for the truth, and a determination to figure out how to make the pieces of the puzzle of peace fit together. Participants express themselves clearly and solidly, yet, with just as much strength, they endeavor to genuinely understand opposing perspectives and get in their shoes. They can even practice temporarily switching roles and arguing sincerely on behalf of those on the other side of conflict. Unlike a debate in which each side views victory in terms of beating the other and making knock-out verbal jabs, in cooperative quest dialogue, winning is cooperative and victory is the growth of truth, understanding, and harmony for all.

Using this open-minded, cooperative attitude of thought and dialogue, the key to promote impartiality is to cast aside the belief that conflict is always a case of one’s own good guys fighting defensively against aggressive bad guys. Instead, we look at both the defensive and aggressive motivations experienced by all the different sides both in the larger external conflict, which involves Russia, the US, and NATO, as well as by those in the internal conflict within Ukraine, including those Ukrainians who support Russia, those who support the US and NATO, those who support violence in this conflict, and those who don’t.

It’s important to non-violently address both fronts of conflict, the external international and internal national conflicts, because they feed off each other. Throughout the Cold War, US conflicts perpetually fed off the internal conflicts of other nations. US policymakers, perhaps deceiving themselves that they were fighting evil, would take advantage of other nations’ internal tensions, fuel them with weapon shipments and military aid, and use the conflict to try to indirectly fight the USSR, even if the USSR’s involvement was just a figment of US policymakers’ imaginations, as in Greece following WWII.6 Sometimes US policymakers would bait the USSR into conflict, as they did in Afghanistan in 1979.7

We should also address the multiple fronts of conflict and friction that likely exist within each side, and we should be sure to break down the analysis to separate the views of policymakers from civilians. After all, policymakers cannot speak for civilians, even though they try to all the time. Biden and Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy are stating or implying that Ukrainian civilians want weapons. But do they really? Or do they favor non-violent conflict resolution? There are more fronts of conflict amongst policymakers themselves—within Ukraine, Russia, and the US. Hopefully, cooperative dialogue can be developed into a habit used by policymakers to learn to treat their differences of opinion in a functional and caring manner rather than in a threatened manner that leads to the silencing, intimidation, or firing of those who disagree.

It’s crucial to never deliberately exclude any group from this thoughtful, caring analysis—no matter what—but to take the time to impartially consider and understand how all of these actors feel threatened. Although it’s important to analyze the roots of conflict comprehensively, a rough comprehensive understanding can be acquired quite quickly, even within a single hour of discussion. Non-violent conflict resolution actually saves time because the process doesn’t psychologically, socially, physically, and financially retard the road to peace the way war and sanctions do. The obstacle to non-violent conflict resolution isn’t time. The obstacle is US policymakers’ lack of commitment to choose cooperative non-violence.

When you analyze various conflicts and make the effort to lay out the Roots and Escalators of Violence, you come to a stunning conclusion: there’s barely a single Root or Escalator of Violence that can be remedied or even alleviated by weapons, violence, war, threats, and sanctions. Perhaps this is why US foreign policymakers refuse to examine the roots of conflict. They know the truth will put war and weapon corporations out of business, and they know they’ll no longer be able to use war and “fighting for freedom” and “rescuing humanity” as a pretext to gobble up foreign resources and markets.

On the other hand, perhaps some really do believe they’re fighting for freedom. Judging by the bizarre and illogical reactions of US “experts” who felt offended and threatened by President Putin’s 2007 speech in Munich and his July 2021 essay, a speech and an essay that actually delivered admirable and honorable ideas, it could be that US foreign policymakers honestly see the world as much more threatening than it really is because they lack skills in relating to, cooperating with, and even understanding the words and intentions of other people and nations.

In the following parts of this essay, we’ll run the current Ukraine crisis through the Paradigm for Peace model in order to gain insight into the roots and escalators of violence and a cooperative, intelligent approach towards peace and justice.

  1. Jacob Knutson, “Austin: West Will ‘Keep Moving’ Heaven and Earth’ to Arm Ukraine,” April 27, 2022. []
  2. Tass, “Militia Claim Spotting up to 70 Mercenaries of US Military Company Academi in East Ukraine,” April 21, 2015. []
  3. Al Mayadeen, “Russia Releases Documents in US-Funded Bio-Weapons, Hunter Biden Exposed,” March 31, 2022; Al Mayadeen, “Russian Forces Find 30 Biological Labs in Ukraine, Possibly for Bioweapons,” March 7, 2022. []
  4. Russia Today, “American Mercenaries Preparing ‘Chemical Weapon’ Incident in Eastern Ukraine, Russia Claims,” December 21, 2021; Paul D. Shinkman, “Fears of False Flag Operation Grow as Russia Claims Ukraine Poised for Chemical Weapons Attack,” May 6, 2022. []
  5. Peter Baker and Michael Levenson, “Biden Digs in on Ukraine Strategy, Sending $33 Billion in Aid,” New York Times, April  28, 2022. []
  6. Thomas G. Paterson, J. Garry Clifford, and Kenneth J. Hagan, American Foreign Policy: A History Since 1900 (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath, 1991), 450-51; Ed Vulliamy and Helena Smith, “Athens 1944:  Britain’s dirty secret,” Guardian, November 30, 2014. []
  7. Bill Van Auken, “Zbigniew Brzezinski, Architect of the Catastrophe in Afghanistan, Dead at 89,” World Socialist Web Site, May 29, 2017; Nick Turse, The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan (New York: Verso, 2010), Chalmers Johnson. “Abolish the CIA!” 31-32; David N. Gibbs, “The Brzezinski Interview with Le Nouvel Observateur (1998),” Translated by William Blum and David N. Gibbs. []
Kristin Christman is a guest with former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter and UNAC coordinator Joe Lombardo on Cynthia Pooler’s program, Issues that Matter. Kristin has been independently researching US foreign policy and peace since 9/11. Her channel focuses on US-Russian relations at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuNEw9-10lk-CwU-5vAElcg. She graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College with a BA in Russian, and she holds Master’s degrees in Slavic languages from Brown University and public administration from SUNY Albany. kristinchristman956@gmail.com Read other articles by Kristin.