There will be a time when Westerners, and Europeans in particular, will understand how vital it is to fight for, and fiercely upheld, the values that make up our civilization – democracy, human rights and individual liberty -, the likes of which were attained through often failed experiments, violence, bloodshed, millions of innocent lives, and despair. However, until then it is likely that the West will see its position weakened in the international system. Today we, the West, face tantamount challenges to an edifice that has cost us so much to build and to keep steady enough as not to crumble.
Those challenges go beyond mere economic and political competition. Those are real threats to the West’s very survival. Europe has lost its prominence, power and influence over world affairs, and so it seems that it will continue to diminish. We are now too close to witness our destruction and thus scavenge among the ruble of the greatest achievement in human history: a full-blown liberal democracy.
Russian territorial ambitious are not unreasonable fears and solely media-fed. The same applies to the threat posed by radical Islam. China, on the other hand, is also a threat in itself, not so much as a military one, but to the extent that it presents a tested alternative model to our civilization – that nevertheless is based on limiting individual liberties.
Russia is closing in. It has de facto control over a number of territories under the sovereignty of other countries: Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the Caucasus/Georgia, Crimea and Donbass in Ukraine, the whole of Belarus, and Transnistria in Romania. The West has failed to deter Russian expansion in Georgia, and it has now failed in Ukraine. Putin, as a pragmatic leader, knows that Europe and the U.S. do not have the will nor the strategic vision to intervene. In addition, American and European voters are highly unlikely to be willing to fight for cities and countries that they have hardly heard of – in the West, i.e in a liberal democracy people have the power to choose their leaders, and leaders know it. Therefore, what can deter Putin from advancing its ambitions towards the Baltic countries or the Balkans? For sure not the current Western cowardliness and timid responses.
Radical Islam poses a direct threat to the extent that it can enter Europe quite discreetly – after all, hundreds of Westerns have been going to Iraque and Syria to fight for Al-Qaeda, and now for the Islamic State. Are Europeans ready to adapt to this context and exercise greater border control? Unlikely, as not only the European project is founded on the free circulation of people, but also its staunch/fierce supporterss will strongly oppose such a move. In addition, in the event that radical Islam spreads throughout the Middle East, chaos will erupt among the established powers in the region and probably cause a major war to erupt. The climax of international chaos would be the loss of the major oil fields to radical hands.
With a loss of European and American prominence, what would happen to western interests and stakes around the world, the likes of which provide an important lifeline to their economies? What may happen if the European economy goes bust? What if Germany goes bust? What if the peripheral countries go bust? Well, the chinese alternative may be considered a good solution – people cede power to a ruling authority in exchange for an alternative future prospect and/or economic prosperity. Individual liberties and freedoms would cease to exist and we would be overrun by a tide of dictatorships similar to the one that happened in the 1930’s.
The West is in danger, and in the face of a great threat a great response is needed. It is of tantamount importance for NATO to take a solid position and actively protect Ukraine. Ukraine should be an example to Russia, as in saying that “when you threaten to cross the fence I will be on the other side in order to make you go back”. If Russia foes unabated and wanders freely across the European borders, it will be a matter of time before the economies crumble and the gate opens for the flood of jihadists and authoritative ideals. The West, and Europe in particular, need to realize that it is those values that have cost us so much to attain and implement that are at stake. In short, it is our way of life that faces extinction.