Putin Has Destroyed the Liberal International Order but Liberal Democracies Are Destroying Themselves

Blaming him for the global democratic slide fundamentally misdiagnoses the problem

With each passing day, the world witnesses a fresh spate of horrors from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Some commentators posit that Putin’s invasion is part of his broader assault on both the liberal international order and democracies. The New York Times’ German Lopez goes so far as to suggest, “The growing ruthlessness of authoritarian leaders, particularly Russian President Vladimir Putin” is a “big factor” in democratic backsliding.

There is little doubt that Russia’s invasion stands as a signal challenge to liberal internationalism. But Putin’s role in precipitating a broader democratic decline in liberal democratic countries is a different question. Holding him responsible for that overstates his influence and gives him far too much credit for trends beyond his control.

Putin has restored great power politics to the center stage, laying bare — and accelerating — two burgeoning challenges to the existing international order:

One, the trend towards multipolarity. While experts have anticipated the decline of the US-led system of alliances and institutions, most predicted that such a transition was still some years away. Russia’s brazen violation of international law, its recent pact with China, and the emergence of new centers of economic and political influence outside the liberal western sphere indicate that the end of the American unipolar order might well be close at hand. As Robert Kagan writes in the Washington Post, the resurgence of Russian military aggression, alongside Chinese gains in East Asia and the Pacific, heralds “the end of the present order and the beginning of an era of global disorder and conflict as every region in the world shakily adjusts to a new configuration of power.” Putin’s unprovoked aggression might yet strengthen the NATO alliance while weakening Russia, but his disdain for Western powers will potentially embolden China to similarly test US commitments in Asia.

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Πηγή: theunpopulist.substack.com

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