As the 24/7 news channels roll out their grim and ghastly bulletins from the Ukrainian front it may be time for the West to dust down its post-war diplomatic almanacs for guidance on what to do next. For we have been here before according to Dominic Sandbrook in an article for this weekend’s Unherd.
As Europe descended into yet another dark age at the end of World War II, US President Harry Truman made a key-note speech to a Joint Session of Congress which would prove
“so momentous that it arguably had more impact on history than almost any other speech by any other president since Abraham Lincoln. The United States, he told his listeners, was in a new world war — an undeclared war, not of armies but of ideologies. “At the present moment in world history”, he said, “nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life”. One was based on individual liberty, free speech and democratic elections. The other, Communism, relied upon “terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio; fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms”.
To prosecute this strategy would be long and expensive he said and would be funded principally through economic and financial aid. Today
“that speech is remembered as the genesis of the Truman Doctrine, in which the United States committed itself to the defence of democracy against the advance of Communism. The usual word for this campaign, which never appears in the speech, is “containment”, and that sums it up pretty well.”
Containment is not a glamourous term nor is it obviously heroic. But it represents perhaps the best chance for securing peace in the long term or until such time as Putin and his vile regime collapse or are overthrown from within.
Like the former Soviet Union, the present regime appears entrenched. But given time, argues Sandbrook,
“I think it will beat Putin, too. It may take years of unrelenting political, economic and cultural pressure, but we should have no doubt about the outcome. The little man from Missouri has already beaten Lenin and Stalin. Even in death, he can wipe the floor with Vladimir Putin.”
The full article can be read here with a link to the original beneath it: