July 06, 2022

Why Russia Must Fail in Ukraine

By Richard Fontaine

The post-Cold War era that began in 1991 ended on February 24 of this year. That day, as Russian troops swept into Ukraine, Vladimir Putin unleashed massive brutality on a sovereign neighbor. Amid the first state-on-state land war in Europe since 1945, the stakes immediately became clear, in Washington and beyond. Then, and today, Ukrainian lives and independence hang in the balance. So too do those institutions and rules that govern, if not always effectively, international behavior. In this new era, world order itself is at risk.

Much recent American debate has focused not on the benefits of international order but on its costs. Defense spending, alliances and military pacts, diplomatic deals, international economic arrangements—all are easy to dismiss as the obsolete manifestations of a Cold War mentality, or the hubris of U.S. leadership, or the conceit of those who overlook the interests of average Americans. Some argue that the very existence of any liberal order is mythical, just another chimera bound to entangle the United States in faraway places about which we know little.

Should Moscow’s violent revisionism succeed, it would threaten the very principles that have helped create peace, prosperity, and freedom over more than half a century.

Yet international order is like the ground beneath one’s feet: ignored, taken for granted, and indispensable. When it shakes violently, as it is today, that order galvanizes attention and elicits mighty efforts at stabilization. National will matched to national power—America’s above all others—is required to dampen the earthquake.

The alternative to an ordered world, and to countries shouldering the cost of its defense, is the law of the jungle, where big countries can take territory, impose their rule, and spread chaos at will. That is the world Russia seeks, and China appears seized by a similar impulse. The prohibition against forcible conquest is at the very core of liberal order, and it is precisely that norm that is at risk today. Should Moscow’s violent revisionism succeed, it would threaten the very principles that have helped create peace, prosperity, and freedom over more than half a century.

Read the full article from The National Interest.

  • Podcast
    • August 10, 2022
    The Latest Phase of the War in Ukraine, with Mike Kofman and Jeff Edmonds

    Has the war in Ukraine reached a critical turning point? Mike Kofman and Jeff Edmonds join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to discuss the evolution of the military situ...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Michael Kofman & Jeffrey Edmonds

  • Podcast
    • August 5, 2022
    Political Churn in Europe, with Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook and Max Bergmann

    What do the recent upheavals in European politics mean for the future of transatlantic cooperation? Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook and Max Bergmann join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook & Max Bergmann

  • Podcast
    • July 27, 2022
    Ukraine's Window of Opportunity?

    With military circles abuzz that Ukraine might be preparing to launch a counter-offensive against Russian-held Kherson, Michael Kofman of CNA’s Russia team joins War on the Ro...

    By Michael Kofman

  • Podcast
    • July 25, 2022
    The State of EU-China Relations, with Noah Barkin and Francesca Ghiretti

    What have been the latest key developments in EU-China relations? Noah Barkin and Francesca Ghiretti join Carisa Nietsche and Jim Townsend to discuss milestones in the relatio...

    By Carisa Nietsche, Jim Townsend, Noah Barkin & Francesca Ghiretti

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia