We cannot allow the threat of world war to scare us into inaction. The question is no longer how to avoid war. It’s now time to start talking about winning the war. It’s time to push back on Putin’s assault on Ukraine and reverse the global decline of democracy.
We are in the midst of the global collapse of democracy. In 2020, democracy declined around the globe. The research division of The Economist reports that more than half the world’s population now lives under authoritarian regimes. The Global Democracy Index now ranks America’s democracy as 26th in the world.
Authoritarian leaders, terrified by pro-democracy movements around the globe, and domestic propagandists with varied motives and objectives have been stoking division and undermining democracy through the dissemination of disinformation. They have spent years convincing Americans that we shouldn’t promote or defend democracy around the world, don’t actually have a democracy, can’t do nation-building, and needn’t care about what happens in other countries. These leaders say our democracy is flawed, and some of our recent attempts at nation-building have failed. Therefore we shouldn’t even try to promote democracy in other countries.
Indeed, the United States and countries in Europe have not only failed to defend democracy, they have at times actively undermined it. But this does not mean that we shouldn’t defend democracy. It means we need to do nation-building better.
America’s history in nation-building has produced mixed results, but that is not a reason to stop defending freedom and human rights. If America and Europe fail to defend democracy while Russia and China actively attack it, democracy is doomed. We must reverse the decline of democracy, and if that means using military force to defend free nations, so be it.
We can’t let the threat of nuclear war cause us to allow dictators to invade and overthrow democracies around the world. As a regional alliance, NATO must step up to stop the slaughter. It should not wait until one of its member nations is attacked. This would allow Putin to pick off nonmember nations with impunity.
Putin attacked Ukraine, in part, because Ukraine wants to be a member of NATO. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is an attack on NATO. Putin’s target is Western liberal democracy.
The struggle for liberty over tyranny is the central struggle of humanity. From ancient times to the present, the world has struggled to free itself from the forces of tyranny, violence, and exploitation.
As many have observed, we must be willing to fight for our freedoms, or we will lose them. We must not cast our rights or the rights of others aside simply because we are afraid. We know now that Putin is committing genocide in Ukraine. We must not allow it to continue.
Many have died defending our freedoms. We cannot cut and run just because there is a risk. Millions of people depend on international laws and organizations to protect them from unprovoked attacks. If Putin is allowed to take Ukraine, no one is safe.
It is clear now that Russia is no match for NATO. If NATO had entered the war, it might already be over. Any fear that NATO’s involvement could increase Russian morale and undermine opposition to Putin in Moscow must now be dismissed given his heavy-handed jailing of dissidents, his public support in Russia, and his troops’ willingness to commit atrocities. The only thing that could bring Putin down now is a resounding defeat. We must be ready to do whatever it takes to save Ukraine.
Fighting against Putin’s unprovoked assault on Ukraine is a just war. We must not allow the indiscriminate slaughter of human beings and the destruction of whole cities. The fall of Ukraine, the slaughter of her people, the overthrow of democracy, the oppression of the Ukrainian people, and a long bloody war are not acceptable.
What happens in Ukraine will impact democracy around the world. The failure of the Arab Spring led to a refugee crisis in Europe. Foreign governments like Russia disseminated propaganda across Europe and America leading to the return of white supremacy and the rise to power of authoritarian leaders like Erdogan in Turkey, Modi in India, Duterte in the Philippines, Bolsonaro in Brazil, and Trump in the United States. There was even an attempted coup in the U.S. The overthrow of Ukraine will accelerate the decline of freedom, democracy, and human rights across the globe.
On the other hand, should Ukraine defeat Russia, it could reverse the global decline of democracy. World dictators will know that the community of free nations will fight for and defend democracy and the rule of law. We can’t expect democracy to survive if we are unwilling to fight for it.
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