VSHA – The Humanist Cafe – NEW LOCATION!

The Humanist Cafe
In-Person Discussion
Open To All!

Wednesday, August 3, 2022 – 7:00-8:30 pm
1075 Pendergast St. (Cook Street Village above Starbucks)
Lots of Free Parking

  The Russian Invasion Of Ukraine: What Should We Do About It?
Presenter:  Barrie Webster
Moderator:  John Pope

At the end of February, Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine. Why did he do this? Was it territorial ambition? Was it fear of NATO? Was it part of a desire to restore imperial Greater Russia as a world power? Was he insecure about his manhood? Or was it simply unhinged aggression?

Propaganda Pitfalls – Noam Chomsky warned of the dangers of the use of propaganda (i.e., information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view) in the attempt to influence public opinion and behaviour. Such propaganda can be promulgated through state-controlled, corporate, or independent non-aligned media. https://truthout.org/articles/noam-chomsky-propaganda-wars-are-raging-as-russias-war-on-ukraine-expands/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=0dcd487c-2617-4818-

In the case of the invasion of Ukraine, both the Russian and Ukrainian leadership have disseminated what can accurately be characterized as propaganda. Other parties and countries with an interest in the conflict are also engaged in propaganda operations.

Academic Analyses of the Whys and Wherefores and the What-the-hell-should-we-do-nows

Rather than use news reports that have been tumbling out of the media these past few months, then, let’s look at analyses from several points of view that have been published in Foreign Affairs https://www.foreignaffairs.com/about-foreign-affairs, published by the non-profit US based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

John Mearsheimer, in his article in 2014, in the context of the Russian annexation of Crimea, believed that “the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and integrate it into the West.”


More recently, Richard Haass, President of the CFR, on the other hand stated in April of this year that Western aims in Ukraine have been unclear. While Putin’s invasion is seen as abhorrent, responses to that aggression have varied from providing military aid to establishing a no-fly zone in Ukraine airspace. Beyond these ideas, little else appears to have coalesced. The question of how the war should end is limited to preferring an earlier rather than a later end. Haass believes that the US, the EU, NATO, and Ukraine need to agree on their position and negotiate with Russia.


A third article, this time by Kirstin Braithwaite and Margarita Konaev on June 29, 2022, discusses “the real key to victory for Ukraine”. Rapid victory is clearly not in the cards; these authors recommend sustainment, but point out that sustainment will become increasingly costly. They believe that a decisive military victory involving expulsion of the Russians from Ukraine appears unlikely.


1. How confident are you that your interpretation of the war has not been influenced by propaganda?

2. Is there a move that might be made that would bring things up short? e.g., is “the nuclear option” viable? should NATO offer Russia membership?

3. Can Russia be brought to heel by sanctions?

4. What about the distraction that the war provides from the cooperative international action needed to deal with climate change?

5. What of the atrocities that have pretty clearly been committed in Ukraine?

6. How will this war end?

See you there!  Bring a friend.

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