How Putin destroyed the three myths of America’s global order
    Commentary by The Japan Times

    ANALYTICS  06 July 2022 - 17:45

    The Japan Times has published an article saying that Russia's Ukraine invasion reminds us that the world order we have taken for granted is remarkably fragile. Caliber.Az reprints the article. 

    Every era has a figure who strips away its pleasant illusions about where the world is headed. This is what makes Vladimir Putin the most important person in the still-young 21st century.

    Over the past weeks — and over the past generation — Putin has done more than any other person to remind us that the world order we have taken for granted is remarkably fragile. In doing so, one hopes, he may have persuaded the chief beneficiaries of that order to get serious about saving it.

    Putin isn’t the first individual to give the “civilized world” a reality check. In the early 19th century, a decade of Napoleonic aggression upended a widespread belief that commerce and Enlightenment ideas were ushering in a new age of peace. In the 20th century, a collection of fascist and communist leaders showed how rapidly the world could descend into the darkness of repression and aggression. More recently, no one has smashed the intellectual pieties of the post-Cold War era as thoroughly as Putin.

    We shouldn’t be surprised: In 2007, as Western intellectuals were celebrating the triumph of the liberal international order, Putin warned that he was about to start rolling that order back. In a scorching speech at the Munich Security Conference, Putin denounced the spread of liberal values and American influence. He declared that Russia would not forever live with a system that constrained its influence and threatened its increasingly illiberal regime.

    He wasn’t kidding. At home and abroad, Putin’s policies have assailed three core tenets of post-Cold War optimism about the trajectory of global affairs.

    The first was a sunny assumption about the inevitability of democracy’s advance. In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton talked of a world where democracy and free markets would “know no borders.” In 2005, President George W. Bush touted the ambition of “ending tyranny in our world.” Putin had other ideas.

    He reversed Russia’s unfinished democratic experiment and constructed a personalistic autocracy. To see Putin publicly humiliate his own intelligence chief on television last week was to realize that the world’s vastest country, with one of its two largest nuclear arsenals, is now the fiefdom of a single man.

    And Putin has hardly been content to destroy democracy in his own country. He has contributed, through cyberattacks, political influence operations and other subversions to a global “democratic recession” that has now lasted more than 15 years.

    Putin has also shattered a second tenet of the post-Cold War mindset: the idea that great-power rivalry was over and that violent, major conflict had thus become passe. Russia has now waged three wars of imperial restoration in the former Soviet Union (in Ukraine, Georgia and Chechnya). Putin’s military used the Syrian civil war to practice tactics, such as the terror-bombing of civilians, that seemed ripped from earlier, uglier eras. Now Russia is prosecuting Europe’s largest conventional war in 75 years, featuring amphibious assaults, the aerial bombardment of major cities and even nuclear threats.

    Violence, Putin has reminded us, is a terrible but sadly normal feature of world affairs. Its absence reflects effective deterrence, not irreversible moral progress.

    This relates to a third shibboleth Putin has challenged — the idea that history runs in a single direction. During the 1990s, the triumph of democracy, great-power peace and Western influence seemed irreversible. The Clinton administration called countries that bucked these trends “backlash states,” the idea being that they could only offer atavistic, doomed resistance to the progression of history.

    But history, as Putin has shown us, doesn’t bend on its own. Aggression can succeed. Democracies can be destroyed by determined enemies. “International norms” are really just rules made and enforced by states that combine great power with great determination. This means that history is a constant struggle to prevent the world from being thrust back into patterns of predation that it can never permanently escape.

    Yet here Putin has done the U.S. and its friends a favour, because that lesson is sinking in. A week of Russian aggression accomplished what a decade of American cajoling could not — a commitment by Germany to arm itself in a way befitting a serious power. Democratic countries around the world are supporting the most devastating sanctions campaign ever aimed at a major power; they are pouring weapons into Ukraine to support its surprisingly vigorous resistance.

    Most important, Putin’s gambit is producing an intellectual paradigm shift — a recognition that this war could be a prelude to more devastating conflicts unless the democratic community severely punishes aggression in this case and more effectively deters it in others.

    We’re in the early days of what could be a long, brutal war. Ukrainian resistance might crumble; Putin might make himself master of a much-expanded empire. But early indications are that he may be on the verge of a rude realization of his own: Robbing one’s enemies of their complacency is a big mistake.



    Subscribe to our Telegram channel

Read also

Separatist “statesmen” arrested by Azerbaijan in Garabagh Time to answer for crimes

03 October 2023 - 16:44

Will Ankara blast mark new era of Türkiye – PKK standoff? Fresh urgency for peace

03 October 2023 - 15:06

Star forum at the start: Betting on space - Baku's long-term strategy Review by Caliber.Az

03 October 2023 - 12:48

Briefcase without handles Oskanyan's secret recipe to rescue Armenia

03 October 2023 - 16:09

Saudi–Israeli normalisation may inflame another regional nuclear dispute Transformational peace or long-term conflict?

02 October 2023 - 18:00

Baku speeding up measures to reintegrate Armenians of Garabagh region New reintegration portal comes online

02 October 2023 - 15:48
Latest news

    State Department: US intends to ensure durable peace between Armenia, Azerbaijan

    04 October 2023 - 09:27

    Azerbaijan wants to sign peace with Armenia, says presidential representative

    04 October 2023 - 09:23

    Türkiye's air strikes hit PKK bases in Iraq

    04 October 2023 - 09:17

    Baku responds to French FM Colonna's accusations

    04 October 2023 - 09:10

    Austrian govt' turns Hitler's birth house into police station to deter Nazi pilgrimages

    04 October 2023 - 08:55

    Spanish king asks PM to form new government following failed first attempt

    04 October 2023 - 07:57

    US house of representatives ousts McCarthy as speaker in unprecedented move

    04 October 2023 - 06:56

    Multiple deaths after Italian bus carrying tourists falls from Venice overpass

    04 October 2023 - 05:58

    Parents of US school shooter to stand trial for negligent behaviour towards gun safety

    04 October 2023 - 05:03

    Ukraine receiving Turkish Baykar Akinci heavy-strike drones could tilt battlefield scales

    04 October 2023 - 03:57

    How West's dependence on Russia does not stop with natural gas

    04 October 2023 - 02:57

    Pentagon announces significant price increase for F-35 jet program

    04 October 2023 - 02:03

    What to know about Pope Francis' summit of bishops regarding future of church

    04 October 2023 - 00:56

    How Nobel-prize winning research enabled lightspeed COVID-19 vaccine development

    03 October 2023 - 23:57

    Teenager carries out fatal shooting in popular Thai mall

    03 October 2023 - 22:57

    Abducted New York girl found alive together with ransom-note leaving kidnapper

    03 October 2023 - 22:03

    Italian premier: Situation with migrants - intractable

    03 October 2023 - 20:59

    Azerbaijani musicians take part in Polish Music Festival

    03 October 2023 - 20:49

    Armenian official rules out unfriendly actions towards Russia

    03 October 2023 - 20:37

    Azerbaijan detains separatist leader Arayik Harutyunyan

    03 October 2023 - 20:35

    Azerbaijan detains separatist Garabagh ex-leaders Bako Sahakyan, Arkady Gukasyan, David Ishkhanyan

    03 October 2023 - 20:33

    Azerbaijan to produce Azersky-2 satellite

    03 October 2023 - 20:23

    Azerbaijan sterilises funds worth $2 billion since 2022 - top banker

    03 October 2023 - 20:11

    Iran kicks off large-scale drone exercises

    03 October 2023 - 19:57

    Estonia opens office in Armenia to help displaced people from Garabagh

    03 October 2023 - 19:43

    Azerbaijan to partake in 17th Youth Delphic Games of CIS nations

    03 October 2023 - 19:29

    Azerbaijan licenses two TV channels to broadcast to Garabagh

    03 October 2023 - 19:14

    Iranian leader warns Saudis against "betting on losing horse" Israel

    03 October 2023 - 19:00

    China offers to collaborate on lunar mission as deadlines loom

    03 October 2023 - 18:50

    Azerbaijan unveils volume of electricity generated by Sugovushan hydroelectric power plant

    03 October 2023 - 18:38

    Baku congratulates counterparts on anniversary of Organization of Turkic States

    03 October 2023 - 18:27

    EU approves budget revision with 50 billion euros for Ukraine

    03 October 2023 - 18:15

    Kremlin: Armenia’s decision to ratify Rome Statute - incorrect

    03 October 2023 - 18:10

    Lithuania’s opposition leader demands resignation of army commander

    03 October 2023 - 18:03

    FM: Azerbaijan restoring religious, cultural heritage destroyed by Armenia


    03 October 2023 - 17:54

    Serbian president takes the blame for situation in Kosovo

    03 October 2023 - 17:47

    Khazri-2023 joint tactical exercise underway


    03 October 2023 - 17:43

    Belarus sets up commission to control exports to Russia

    03 October 2023 - 17:40

    Elon Musk facing defamation lawsuit in Texas

    03 October 2023 - 17:33

    The Hitavada: No reports on harm to Garabagh Armenians after Azerbaijan's anti-terrorist mesaures

    03 October 2023 - 17:26

All news