The latest addition to our household has been named Zelensky.
There have been some reportedly wobbly murmurings amongst US officials to the effect that the President of Ukraine needs to find himself an 'endgame'.
Yet the only person in clear need of fashioning one of these right now is Vladimir Putin.
For Zelensky the way this ends has to be crystal clear — with every Russian occupier departing Ukraine or contributing to its sunflower crop.
For this is perhaps one of the most fundamental prescriptions for this stage of any conflict, modern or otherwise. A lasting peace follows when one side admits moral responsibility for what has occurred and agrees to the strict terms of the new security arrangements. This is what Germany and Japan did after WWII.
However, back in 1918 Germany had had moral responsibility (accompanied by onerous terms) somewhat pinned on it and never really accepted the situation. This was less peace than uneasy truce.
The underlying conditions for further conflict remained. This is what now has to be avoided in Central Europe.
An absence of complete clarity is always dangerous. The failure of the GOP to accept moral responsibility for the Trump debacle and the attack on Congress on January 6th last year is disgraceful and has left a festering wound within American democracy.
These observations come with a particular dose of pique for me as on March 12, 2018 I signed a peace accord with a neighbour who had accused me of an assault when I was not even in the country.
I somehow forgot the directive to extract at the very least a formal acknowledgement of culpability, if only via a sincere apology. Under the circumstances any decent human being would have offered one, yet there aren't many decent human beings who would sit in front of a police officer dictating a statement full of lies and then sign it.
My only excuse is an (at the time) unfamiliarity with the workings of the local legal system, an assumption that the peace accord and its associated unambiguous court orders would put an end to any conflict and that the neighbour had probably made what might be characterised as a one-off, gross miscalculation.
I did not learn until October 2020 about the nature of her apparent motive for filing false testimony: we had, her lawyer announced magisterially at the MP, been playing a popular reggaeton track over and over for an entire day and the lyrics were injurious to her client, who thus felt compelled to seek immediate revenge.
This explanation is as moronic as it is untrue, and surely still not much of an excuse for breaking the law. But she knew that her husband had earlier deployed a similar psy-ops tactic of broadcasting (and singing) a tune by Don Williams that he must have imagined would cause distress on our side of the wall — and not just for a single day — and that there could be an advantage of lodging the allegation first.
As far as I can tell the more likely rationale for her unprovoked legal strike was our refusal of a sum of money that had been dangled under our noses by a public official in Antigua. If we had taken the bung we would have dirtied our own hands in a situation where our neighbours' hands were already decidedly mucky.
In the peace accord signed that day in court she not only committed to maintaining relations grounded in 'mutual respect', she formally committed to ensuring that her husband, her family and her household staff were informed of the agreement and would abide by it.
Yet it became abundantly clear within a matter of days after the audiencia that she had no intention of doing any of that and in fact the aggressions significantly escalated thereafter and from additional quarters.
The behaviour of her husband alone between March 2018 and October 2020 would surely place her in a clear state of disobedience of the original court order.
So, I went looking for an endgame based on forgiveness and forgot the fundamentals. There can be no durable peace without accountability — plus a set of procedures which significantly disincentivise the breaking of any truce.
Putin thinks his possession of nukes frees him from the need to ever abase himself in front of a set of foes, actual and potential, that he clearly has little respect for.
They certainly make the quest for a lasting peace more convoluted, yet the West cannot lose sight of the endgame now or the 'special operation' will spin out into multiple threats (as our own defence against 'invasion' did) and will never cool down to the point of bearability.