The late US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the purpose of foreign policy was to persuade others to do what we want, or better yet, to want what we want.
A lot of things are easier said than done, as Sabina Higgins discovered this week after publishing a letter on the Internet.
Excitement over its contents – and the location from which it was shipped – caused an unusual storm in the normally tranquil environs of Áras an Uachtaráin.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has insisted that the government was not embarrassed by the contretemps.
“Everything has to be kept under control,” he said. And he is right, because in international affairs at the moment one must not distract from the top global priority, which is Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Finding a means to end the murderous campaign is a diplomatic minefield.
As John F. Kennedy put it: “Domestic politics can only defeat us; Foreign policy can kill us.”
Vladimir Putin is not benefiting from his cowardly invasion, which has led to untold slaughter of civilians.
The people of Ukraine are the innocent parties whose borders have been violated.
The indiscriminate and unjustifiable large-scale destruction of cities and towns is rightly classified as a war crime. Aside from the rising death toll, there are associated implications for global food and energy markets.
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who is known to be a friend of Putin’s, has put on record that the Moscow-Kyiv deal to unblock Ukrainian grain exports could provide a route to a possible ceasefire.
“The good news is that the Kremlin wants a negotiated solution,” said Schröder.
But “good news” is never more random than in a war zone. There must be a way forward, but not just any way. The Kremlin has violated the international order by showing no regard for life.
The idea that Moscow could dictate terms after it has taken what it wants by force can only fan the flames of further conflict.
As American economist David Friedman put it, “The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem that it is generally used only by small children and large nations.”
So we cannot afford to forget that people are being slaughtered every day.
Commenting on the situation in Donbass, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: “It’s just hell there. Words cannot describe it.”
Despite supplies of arms from the West, his forces have not yet been able to overcome Russian advantages in heavy arms and manpower.
Mr Schröder has suggested that “a solution must be found based on the Swiss cantonal model,” adding that it remains to be seen whether Putin would return to a pre-war “line of contact” in a ceasefire.
The fact is, however, that Moscow must do so if there is to be even a remote chance of ending the fighting.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/editorial/all-our-focus-must-be-on-securing-peace-in-ukraine-41888758.html All of our attention must be focused on securing peace in Ukraine