Join the University of Chicago’s Chicago Project on Security and Threats for its annual Hagel Lecture today at 6:00 p.m. EDT. Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will be joined by former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and Professor Robert Pape to explore democratic stability, international security, and the way forward in Europe after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Image credit: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine
At approximately the 1:02 point in this podcast, Ambassador McFaul — via a discussion that he once had with now deceased/assassinated Boris Nemtsov — may provide the best argument for why Ukraine (and/or Taiwan for that matter?) should not be allowed to fall.
This such argument being that both Ukraine and Taiwan view the world much like we in the U.S./the West do — that is — not so much through such "primitive"/"backward" things as race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, etc. — but more through such things as capitalism, markets and trade.
(Upon listening to this portion of the podcast, would you say that I have stated this right/correctly? If not, then please give me a hand here.)
Consider the future of the liberal international order (and the place of the war in Ukraine therein) from the following perspective:
Post-the Old Cold War, the U.S./the West set about trying to achieve "revolutionary change" — both at home in our own states and societies and indeed elsewhere throughout the world — this, so that these such states and societies might come to better interact with, better provide for and better benefit from such things as capitalism, globalization and the global economy.
These such post-Old Cold War "achieve revolutionary change both at home and abroad" efforts (much like the "achieve revolutionary change both at home and abroad" efforts of the Soviets/the communist in the Old Cold War) (a) clearly and existentially threatened the status quo both at home and abroad and, thus, (b) clearly and existentially threatened the conservatives, the traditionalists, etc. — both here at home and there abroad — both of whom depended on/depend upon the status quo for their power, influence, control, privilege, status, safety, security, etc.
These such threatened conservatives, traditionalists, etc., everywhere — in these such circumstances — occasionally came to see each other as "natural allies." Here is example of this such phenomenon:
“Compounding it all, Russia’s dictator has achieved all of this while creating sympathy in elements of the Right that mirrors the sympathy the Soviet Union achieved in elements of the Left. In other words, Putin is expanding Russian power and influence while mounting a cultural critique that resonates with some American audiences, casting himself as a defender of Christian civilization against Islam and the godless, decadent West.”
(See the “National Review” item entitled: “How Russia Wins” by David French.)
It is from THIS such perspective, I suggest, that one might best understand why the liberal international order might now be threatened:
a. Internally by conservative/traditionalists forces inside the U.S./the West's own states and societies and
b. Externally by such nations as Russia and China.
Question: How to see the war in Ukraine from this such perspective?
Answer: As being a proxy war between:
a. The U.S./the West: Fighting to achieve "revolutionary change" both here at home and abroad; this, in the name of such things as capitalism, globalization and the global economy and
b. Such states and Russia and China: Fighting to maintain the status quo — and/or to restore a status quo anti — this latter, if too much unwanted change is thought to have already taken place. Here is an example this such "fighting back" phenomenon; in this case, coming from China today:
“This may, in fact, be the missing explanatory element. Ideologies regularly define themselves against a perceived ‘other,’ and in this case there was quite plausibly a common and powerful ‘other’ (to wit: Western liberalism) that both (Chinese) cultural conservatism and (Chinese) political leftism defined themselves against. This also explains why (Chinese) leftists have, since the 1990s, become considerably more tolerant, even accepting, of cultural conservatism than they were for virtually the entire 20th century. The need to accumulate additional ideological resources to combat a perceived Western liberal ‘other’ is a powerful one, and it seems perfectly possible that this could have overridden whatever historical antagonism, or even substantive disagreement, existed between the two positions.”
(See the April 24, 2015 Foreign Policy article “What it Means to Be ‘Liberal’ or ‘Conservative’ in China: Putting the Country’s Most Significant Political Divide in Context” by Taisu Zhang.)
Bottom Line Thought — Based on the Above:
The future of the liberal international order, thus I suggest, will be determined — both in Ukraine and elsewhere — by who wins the fight that I describe above?
Note: The items in parenthesis — in my China quote above — are mine. Apologies.
Note that — at approximately the one hour and fourteen minute point of this podcast — Ambassador McFaul states that:
a. Of the two threats to the liberal international order that I describe above — that is, the internal threat and the external threat —
b. That it is the internal threat that worries him the most.