This commentary is from Tom Koch, a Barre Town resident who represented the city in the Vermont House of Representatives for 22 years.

The history of the world can be told by recounting the seizure of land from one people by another. The Old Testament, which is not the first account of such conflicts, contains many stories of battles for control of the land. Conquests continued through Alexander the Great’s crusades in Asia and Africa, Caesar’s exploits in Gaul, William the Conqueror’s defeat of Harold in 1066, Napoleon’s empire building, our own expansion through Native American lands and Hitler’s Lebensraum that led to World War II, to name a few examples.

This was once acceptable behavior, but the wars and indescribable human suffering that inevitably ensue must ultimately be seen as unacceptable.

We see Russia invading Ukraine, without reason or justification of any kind except that Vladimir Putin wants to reconstitute the USSR. Similarly, we see China threatening to invade Taiwan.

It is time for the international community to say “Enough! No more!” It’s time to outlaw any nation that tries to take over its neighbor’s land. It’s time to declare all current borders permanent, even if there are arguments to justify a change or another. But any change must be made voluntarily, not by force of arms.

As a starting point for this admittedly idealistic (and some might say unrealistic) proposal, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has chosen to lead Ukraine’s defense. He not only defends the possession of land, but he supports the proposition that Russia has no legal rights to the lands of Ukraine. He and his people are fighting, but they are fighting for peace, and his efforts must be recognized.

In about a week, the Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded. I can think of no more worthy recipient than President Zelenskyy for championing the principle that seizing another nation’s land is no longer acceptable. Acceptance of this principle could be the greatest impetus towards lasting world peace, and the Nobel Prize Committee has an opportunity to promote this acceptance.

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Tags: Nobel Peace Prize, Thomas Koch, Tom Koch, Ukraine, Zelenskyy

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