The British surrender at Yorktown was accompanied by their musicians playing “The World Turned Upside Down.” It was a triumph for freedom and democracy. The world is turned upside down again, tragically, in the opposite direction.
As liberal democracies do so often, the West miscalculated. They believed that almost everyone did believe in the “rules-based international order” so touted by diplomats and political scientists. We believed that economics would matter as much to Putin as it does to us. We believed that peace and prosperity mattered more than power and empire.
As it does, reality has replaced reverie. We are reminded that peace does not preserve itself. Rules must be enforced. Organizations dedicated to peace and the defense of democracy, such as NATO, are essential.
Additional lessons must be taken. We must take inspiration from the courageous Ukrainians. We must note the difference that a clear-sighted and courageous leader can make. Think Zelensky instead of Trump.
Finally, we must confront the curse of complexity. We speak of a “pivot to Asia” instead of Europe, as if there can be a single foreign policy focus. Xi Jinping will apply the lessons of Ukraine to Taiwan. The Middle East still simmers. Every continent matters. The scope of our focus must encompass the scope of the issues.
I’m Bob Evans and that is my perspective.
Originally posted on Northern Public Radio.
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