Lacking the confidence to defend its values abroad, it has started to import the principles of its enemies
This article by Sherelle Jacobs for the Telegraph dated 25.01.22 and another one by Henry Hill for ConservativeHome dated 25.01.22 together emphasise the shame the UK and the West must bear for their lack of action and their strategic failure over the past few years. The weakness of NATO has become obvious to the Russians.
The article by Sherelle Jacobs begins with these words:
As a Russian invasion of Ukraine looms, it isn’t just the fate of one nation that hangs in the balance. It’s that of the entire West. After communism’s defeat in the Cold War, the American scholar Francis Fukuyama notoriously predicted the “end of history”, with the world peacefully aligning with the liberal democratic values of the victorious powers. At the time, few questioned whether this might have been hubris. He was merely bringing into the mainstream the ideas of the Russian-French thinker Alexandre Kojève, who helped found the EU, to be built in America’s image. We’ve known for some time that Fukuyama was disastrously wrong, but it is quite something that it is now the enemies of the free world who are making the predictions. According to Vladimir Putin, we are witnessing the “end of liberalism”: the West has become “obsolete”, he claims, as the EU fragments and American confidence collapses. Unable to live up to its values – or tell a new galvanising story of freedom adapted to modern realities – it is hard to escape the conclusion that the US and Europe risk tipping into a death spiral of humiliation and decline. Amid the theatre and chaos – as the US evacuates its embassy and London accuses Putin of plotting a coup to install a puppet in Kyiv – one thing is clear: America has once and for all abandoned the evangelical liberalism that it espoused as the world hegemon for much of the last 30 years. Since the Cold War, it championed the view that the values of freedom, democracy and human rights are not just cultural particulars but universal goods that ought to be exported. That the West would be on hand to help liberate plucky Davids from autocratic Goliaths. And that as unfree countries are integrated into the global economy, democratisation would organically follow. Underpinning all this was an ardent faith that democratic liberalism marks mankind’s evolutionary end-point, precisely as Fukuyama argued.
Such ideological self-confidence propelled the Clinton administration to expand Nato up to Russia’s borders. It spurred on the EU’s bid to assimilate Ukraine. Yet resolve began to falter following the disasters of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the global financial crisis. And now, in the face of Putin’s threats, it is crumbling.
Even if the Russian President does not invade his neighbour, in some senses he has already won. Ukraine’s allies have betrayed their reluctance to defend it. While Joe Biden all but permitted Moscow to make a “minor incursion”, Germany has blocked Nato allies from sending weapons to Ukraine.
And with this, the poverty of Western leadership has been exposed. Recent events have brought home Germany’s moral hollowness – not just its squalid reliance on Russian gas, but its blinkered pacifism. Regardless of the stakes, Europe’s largest power runs scared of thorny existential confrontations.
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The article by Henry Hill for ConservativeHome is entitled "Britain’s strong response to the Ukraine crisis cannot mask decades of strategic failure" and begins with these words:
One can easily imagine the heavy-handed cinematography of some future documentary or drama. As Westminster is consumed with increasingly absurd stories of parties in Downing Street, British diplomatic staff and their families are being pulled out of Kiev.
Doubtless to the astonishment of the sort of analyst who insists that such things simply cannot happen in the Current Year, there seems to be a growing consensus that Russia is going to invade Ukraine. To some, the question is whether they will stick to the east or cross the Dnieper (or bypass it, via Belarus) and attack Kiev itself, perhaps installing a new regime.
As we noted a few days ago, Ben Wallace has actually steered the UK towards the forefront of the international response. Britain has taken the lead in airlifting military supplies, and NATO allies both in Washington and Eastern Europe have noticed.
But there is little hope that this support would actually equip Kiev to defeat a full-blown Russian invasion. Likewise talk of fresh commitments of troops to the region by the US are confined to NATO members, such as Romania. Nobody in the West is talking about trying to fight a ground war in the Ukraine.
This poses two difficult questions for the Government, and indeed perhaps for every NATO government.
First, there is what to do in the event of an invasion. A military response is off the table. But the usual Western weapon of economic sanctions may also prove difficult to wield.
Germany is already striking a cautious note, which is not surprising as Berlin has wilfully and discreditably increased its dependence on Russian gas by shuttering its nuclear power stations. But if Moscow decided to weaponise its energy exports, the impact would be felt in the UK too, pushing prices up just as the Government is preparing to sail into the teeth of a cost-of-living crisis.
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