Smolny Beyond Borders

A Liberal Arts Initiative

Why Fight? The Russo-Ukrainian War in Context

Thursday, October 20, 2022
Bard College, Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito ’60 Auditorium
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm EDT/GMT-4

Center for Civic Engagement, Russian/Eurasian Studies Program, and The Gagarin Center at Bard College Present.

Russia escalated the war against Ukraine eight months ago, shocking the world and leading to a major upheaval in international politics. The goal of this roundtable is to explicate why this happened from an analytical distance. Bard scholars Sean McMeekin, Archie Magno, and Michelle Murray will discuss the causes and effects of Russia’s assault against the neighboring state in the context of general problems of war and peace that humanity, mutatis mutandis, has faced throughout its history. Three decades between the attack on Ukraine and the end of the Cold War revived age-long dreams of eternal peace due to an impression that the most bitter national and ideological antagonisms in Eastern Europe belonged to the past. Many “new wars” (Mary Caldor) abounded, but they remained relatively small-scale and asymmetrical. Before February 24, 2022, war itself appeared to many to be illegitimate, since it was portrayed in Western media as a clash between the forces of civilized democracies and those of authoritarian “rogue states.” Now, in contrast, the world seems to be thrown back to the earlier patterns of aggression, reminiscent of “old” wars of imperial conquest and geopolitical competition among great powers. Along with the participants of the roundtable, the Bard community is invited to ponder the gravity of this situation from the perspectives of history, political science, and philosophy.

The video recording of this event will be publicly available.