'We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.' - Ronald Reagan

Posted by ProjectC 
<blockquote>'We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.'

- Ronald Reagan (Context: Peace Through Strength: Still a Good Idea, March 29, 2013)

'..there is no greater safeguard to democracy and freedom than a strong defense. As Ronald Reagan famously said, “We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.” The U.S. has an obligation to maintain that strength against those who would threaten freedom and that of its allies.'

- “Peace through Strength”, April 01, 2013</blockquote>

'Putin’s retreat would spell defeat for global authoritarianism.'

<blockquote>'In other words, we face a new reality in which neither Cold War schemes nor post-Cold War settlement approaches appear to work. This means that we will have to revisit a number of traditional views, including our views on the collapse of the Soviet Union—which, as we now should understand, merely served to sustain the Russian Matrix of personalized power at the cost of dismantling the old state. The same understanding applies to Yeltsin’s role: He was in fact an architect of anti-Communist authoritarianism, creating the constitutional grounds for Putin’s regime. We will have to take a fresh look at the policies the West has been advancing over the past twenty years, ranging from the European Union’s roadmaps for Russia’s inclusion in Europe to the U.S. “reset” and the EU’s “Partnership for Modernization.” We will need to ask ourselves to what extent Western policies were actually means of including Russia in Western normative space, and to what extent they merely facilitated the revival of the Russian personalized power system. Having cast aside imitations of partnership and democratization in Russia, Putin seriously damaged the reputation of Western intellectual and political communities. Just think how many analytical publications, speeches, and dissertations have now been rendered superfluous, if not just plain wrong! How many political decisions and constructs have been exposed as futile, or even deleterious to the liberal democracies! Even a short list of misguided political actions, op-eds, and academic research would offer a stunning example of a collective failure to analyze, predict, and react to the obvious.

Meanwhile, Russia’s war against Ukraine could have consequences reaching even further than those of the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. The Soviet collapse was unexpectedly peaceful (again despite numerous predictions to the contrary). The Soviet Union just cracked and crumbled like a clay pot. This painless demise to a large extent resulted from the fact that the old and frail Soviet elite was unable to struggle for survival, and a significant number of Russians wanted change and looked up to the West. The situation is drastically different today: the Russian elite will fight tooth and nail to survive, using every means at its disposal—including, we now see, external aggression, blackmail, and the threat of undeclared war. Besides, the Russians of today, zombified by television war propaganda, fear change and view the West suspiciously. The 1991 Soviet collapse spawned a democratic euphoria and hopes for the ultimate victory of liberal democracy. Today the world finds itself in the midst of the authoritarian surge. In its final days, the Soviet Union could barely attract worldwide, let alone Western, support; Putin’s Kremlin, meanwhile, has managed to find supporters in the West all across the political spectrum—many of whom aren’t always aware of whose tune they’re dancing to. Today’s Russia is an advance combat unit of the new global authoritarianism, with China acting as its informal leader and waiting in the wings to seize its own opportunities. Indeed, by destabilizing the Western world and exposing its weaknesses, Putin is effectively doing Beijing’s dirty work.

Putin’s Kremlin challenged the West at the same time that the liberal community was losing its mission and normative dimension. This is essentially a civilizational rather than a geopolitical challenge: Apart from testing the liberal democracies’ ability to defend the global order, it is testing their ability to reintroduce the normative dimension to their foreign policies. That is exactly what Ukrainian crisis is about: Here Putin is trying to explore how strong the West’s positions are. The Kremlin isn’t fighting for the rights of Russian-speakers in Ukraine, or for greater autonomy for the east. These issues are ultimately of little significance to the Kremlin. Instead, what we have in Ukraine is a battle waged by a declining but ever more desperately aggressive authoritarianism against a hostile civilization. And today’s Russian elite will not leave the battlefield voluntarily, as the impotent Soviet leaders once did. After the Kremlin turned Ukraine into an internal political factor, and turned containment of the West in Ukraine into a tool for mobilizing Russians around their leader, it cut off its avenues for retreat. Retreat would lead to a loss of power and control over the country, which under current Kremlin conditions, would be tantamount to suicide (and not just the political variety). Putin’s retreat would spell defeat for global authoritarianism. Therefore, we can expect that Beijing will lend Moscow a helping hand where possible. (Beijing will also force Moscow to pay for this help—the recent Russia-China gas contract, which exclusively caters to Chinese interests, is a clear illustration of what’s to come).


Ironically, the 1991 Soviet collapse did not guarantee the gradual rise of liberal civilization. We are witnessing its crisis twenty years later. Perhaps, the West needs rivals like the former Soviet Union to sustain itself and remain true to form. The West needs to return to its mission and core values in order to respond to Putin’s Russia, but doing so calls for taking stock of the mistakes and dashed hopes of the past. It requires an overhaul of long-standing and ostensibly immutable institutions and principles, including: the European security system (particularly as it pertains to energy security); issues involving democratic transitions, war and peace, and global government and responsibility; and the role of the normative dimension in foreign policy.

What a mess Putin has gotten us all into! But let’s also give him his due: He has paved the way for the emergence of new trends—or at least he’s called the existing ones into serious question. He has also facilitated the formation of Ukrainian national identity, ensuring that the country will never again become a mere extension of Russia. He has thus undermined his own dream—that of creating the Eurasian Union. He has precipitated a crisis in his own country, making its future path completely unpredictable. And finally, he has reminded NATO of its mission and prompted the liberal democracies to reflect on their own principles.’

- Lila Shevtsova, Putin Ends the Interregnum, August 28, 2014</blockquote>


<blockquote>'..blocking Russian access to .. SWIFT..'

'Putin should be investigated for war crimes and crimes against humanity.' - David L. Phillips</blockquote>