The more determined democracies are to avoid war, the greater the risk that autocracies will wage it.
Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine, and the West’s response to it, have demonstrated to Vladimir Putin that the state of democracy in Europe, and to a large extent the world, is stronger than he believed. I never shared the pessimistic assessments of Western democracy born of democracy’s failure to take root in Russia after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and reanimated by recent attacks from inside some democracies. Yet important lessons must be drawn from the recent past, and this moment, to protect the future prospects of democracy everywhere.
Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine constitutes a real and present danger to world peace and a rules-based order in Europe. But even more ominous than Russian war crimes are the neo-Stalinist ideas that the Kremlin is using to justify them. Putin’s regime is implementing these designs inside Russia and is offering them for export to the outside world in hopes of helming a new global Comintern. That new International—the Antidemocracy International—while detached from Soviet communism would still share similar aims, use similar tools to seize power, and be similarly fueled by anti-Western fury.
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