Is pacifism passé?
Just over a week has passed since Ukraine's allies - including Germany - concentrated and expanded their military support for the country in its fight against Russia. Diplomatic efforts to end the war have for the most part been put on hold. A group of German intellectuals has now expressed grave concerns about this in an open letter to Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Europe's press discusses the arms build-up and German sensitivities.
Questions are legitimate
To say that pacifism is outdated goes too far, La Stampa puts in:
“No help has been given to other nations threatened with extermination, so it's perfectly legitimate to ask why we're helping now. In the name of what are we sending weapons to the Ukrainian resistance? To see who wins, to win vicariously, or to help the defenceless population that has been massacred and pave the way for negotiations at some point? But with whom? Is it possible to negotiate with Putin? The question of why we should send weapons is legitimate. Pacifism is not outdated, as the German Chancellor says. It is a sentiment felt by everyone who has been brought up to respect the rights of the weakest and by extension everyone's rights.”
Russia doesn't negotiate with the defenceless
Polish writer Szczepan Twardoch criticises the argumentation of the authors of the open letter in Der Spiegel:
“There is a thoughtless pacifism here that, strangely enough, never targets Russia directly. The idea behind it would be best realised by the Ukrainians not only handing over their weapons but digging their own graves, lying down in them and waiting patiently to be 'denazified'. ... More weapons for Ukraine means stronger Ukrainian armed forces, which in turn means fewer Russian war crimes. It's as simple as that. ... Russia does not negotiate with the defenceless. With those who are defenceless, Russia does as it sees fit.”
Time for a crash course on uncertainties and risks
In a guest commentary for Lidové noviny, Peter Lange, Prague correspondent for German public broadcaster ARD, explains the German take on the war in Ukraine, which many Central Eastern Europeans find hard to understand:
“Germany's 'fear of war', the desire for security and stability, was the overriding political maxim of (West) German society after 1945. ... [In representative surveys] 45 percent of respondents now believe that military support for Ukraine is the right approach while 45 percent are against it because they fear an escalation of the conflict and the outbreak of a global nuclear war. German society is divided and must take a crash course on enduring uncertainties and risks that it has not had to contend with for decades.”