The Economic Consequences of the War in Europe

War has returned to Europe. Vladimir Putin has begun a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, bombarding the country with artillery and missiles and attempting to take control of a critical airport. Columns of Russian tanks have rolled into the country. At the time of this writing, Russian forces are advancing toward Kyiv, the capital. Casualties are mounting. Ukrainians are fleeing their homes. Lines are long at the border crossing into Poland. This could become the largest conflict in Europe since the end of the Second World War.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson said last night that we have “no national interests” in Russia’s decision to wipe a sovereign nation off the map. This is, of course, absurd. The geopolitical, security, and humanitarian ramifications of Russia launching a land war in Europe clearly affect our nation, and they will rightfully receive most of the attention today and in the coming days.

There will be significant economic consequences as well.

Mr. Putin’s invasion is a direct threat to the post–World War II liberal international order. It is quite literally a threat to NATO, should it embolden Putin to train his sights next on Estonia. But more than that, if Mr. Putin is successful in conquering Ukraine, it signals a new chapter in the rise of authoritarianism.

The post-war order has been a bedrock of prosperity in the West for seven decades. It consists of institutions, relationships, and dispositions that allowed Europe to move past the bloody first half of the 20th century. It has kept the West safe and free — which allowed for prosperity to flourish.

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