The shadow of the Big War has fallen on the world again. If until now it was only a frightening sensation, the result of the Peace Summit, which Ukraine held in Switzerland on June 15-16, 2024, made a final diagnosis: the world is again divided. There is a war between the bloc of Western democracies and the alliance of Eastern tyrannies. The Global South has taken a neutral position and is waiting to see who will win in this coming battle. However, as it has always done before. With periodic attempts to bargain their position between the blocs.

At the same time, the new Axis of Evil – China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, as well as the wavering countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America, consider Ukraine to be part of this Western bloc and a de facto member of NATO, even though our partners are delaying this recognition. The war that Russia has unleashed in Ukraine is not a regional conflict. It is a war on the territory of Ukraine of democracies against tyrannies, which once again challenged the established world order, the observance of which has been monitored by the US and NATO for more than 30 years.

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The preconditions for this, unfortunately, were laid by the United States 34 years ago. During the negotiations between US Secretary of State James Baker and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev on the unification of Germany in 1990, a compromise was reached that was supposed to contribute to the establishment of long-term peace on the European continent. The US, in return for the Soviet Empire’s agreement to German unification, adopted a strategy of disarming Europe. And according to Gorbachev’s recollections, the West even exceeded its commitments.

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The US pursued two goals. First, by reducing the defense capacity of European countries and weapons stockpiles, they reduced the risk of new wars on the continent. Second, it was a kind of guarantee to Soviet Russia, for which a disarmed Europe was no longer a military threat. European countries, in turn, were protected from the “communist bloc” by the American nuclear umbrella. For the next 30 years, this was the dominant strategy of the elites in Washington.

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In fact, it was an unlearned lesson of the Western democracies of the period between the world wars. One should not leave to a defeated enemy the possibility of preserving military capabilities and sphere of influence in the world.

As a result, it led to the fact that the Russian Empire restored its fighting ability and, realizing the military weakness of Europe, began to test NATO’s strength. In 2007 in Munich, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he was not going to accept the hegemony of the US and NATO and, without a decent response, annexed South Ossetia in Georgia in 2008 and Crimea and part of Donbass in Ukraine in 2014. In late 2021, meeting only “expressions of deep concern” from Western democracies, he gave NATO an ultimatum that the bloc should withdraw from Eastern Europe and stop expanding. And, once again, without receiving a decent response, he invaded Ukraine, wreaking havoc and destruction.

Each new round of aggression was justified by preventive measures because of “threats” from NATO, which did not exist. And there was nothing to threaten with. In the 30 years after the end of the Cold War, the military budgets of NATO members, except for the United States, fell by an order of magnitude. And only now they are somehow recovering, but at an extremely low rate. And one state, even as powerful as the United States, cannot provide security in so many regions.

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On the eve of the Peace Summit, Putin once again raised the stakes by issuing yet another unacceptable ultimatum to the US and NATO. And it did not boil down to proposals for a de facto surrender of Ukraine. It was just a smoke screen. The tyrant’s main message was that the US should withdraw from Europe as a guarantor of security: “The time has come to start a broad discussion of a new system of bilateral and multilateral guarantees of collective security in Eurasia. At the same time, in the long term, it is necessary to gradually reduce the military presence of external powers in the Eurasian region.”

In essence, the bloc of tyrannies invites NATO to dissolve itself and the United States wind down its presence in the world. At the same time, Putin emphasized that there will be no more going back to the 2021 proposals. This shows the extreme confidence of the bloc of authoritarian regimes in their strength and the weakness of the West. And this expansion will not stop at Eurasia. This cancerous tumor has already metastasized in the countries of the Global South, from which the US and its allies in political, economic and informational spheres are being systematically pushed out. The global goal of the autocracies is to sow chaos in their heads and drive the US into the North American continent, limiting its influence on international politics.

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And the notorious US “nuclear umbrella” over Europe is no longer stopping tyrannies from redistributing the world. It is very difficult to respond to the use of conventional military forces with an atomic bomb.

 Peace on the planet can only be guaranteed by the presence of a force ready to ensure it.

The only answer to this challenge is to go back to 1946. At the time of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s Fulton Speech, the beginning of the Cold War and the creation of NATO. These measures allowed to arm and make combat-ready the bloc of Western democracies in the region of potential confrontation in Europe. Thus, in 1972 the number of the Bundeswehr was 638,300 people and that was only in the Federal Republic of Germany. Let’s compare it with 2023 – 181,596 people, and this in a united Germany.

In the current state of its potential, the NATO bloc cannot rely only on the United States. Europe must have its own leader, who can take some responsibility and authority in the field of security and bring NATO military contingents in the EU to the level of 1989, at least. Naturally, in full cooperation with the US as the basis of NATO. And this will reform the North Atlantic bloc and its governance structure from within.

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But even this is not enough. The world has become more globalized since 1989. Confrontations are occurring and will intensify across different continents and regions. However, this does not mean that NATO should control all theaters of military operations. As the experience of the United States over the past 20 years has shown, this is impossible. US authorities must come to understand that the security of each global cluster, whether in Europe or Asia, should be the responsibility of a separate regional leader. This leader should understand the local specifics and be directly invested in the long-term success of their region. Moreover, such a state should become a focal point for the countries in its region with the support of the US. This again implies delegating authority and responsibility to such a partner, and additionally, reduces the level of “anti-Americanism” unfortunately present even in allied Europe.

And this is already the way to the creation of regional security blocs of US allies around the world to ensure the security of these territories and guarantee effective opposition to attempts of destabilization by Eastern tyrannies.

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Thus, a two-tier security system is being created around the world. At the grassroots level – regional blocs under the coordination of the US and the local regional leader (analogous to AUKUS). At the upper level, NATO will need to be reorganized into an alliance of regional blocs under the leadership of the United States, including a new European bloc under the leadership of, for example, Poland. At the same time, NATO is tasked with coordinating the actions of regional blocs, intelligence sharing, and limited support in military operations.

Such a system, in addition to the partial transfer of responsibility for security in the regions, removes the financial burden from the United States. In turn, security guarantees built on the responsibility of several leading states minimize the risks of changing the position of an individual country, for example, due to political turmoil. And in the end, it will allow the accumulation of maximum resources to defeat eastern tyrannies. And, of course, the US nuclear umbrella over the regional blocs has never been canceled.

In addition, a number of other political solutions are needed. The Iron Curtain should be a barrier against the terrorist threat from Moscow and its propaganda and corruption influence. Without it, the effectiveness of economic sanctions tends to zero. We are witnessing this now. The Iron Curtain not only protected Western democracies, but also brought the USSR to its knees, forcing Gorbachev to launch Perestroika. 

This program must be implemented very quickly. The phantom threat is becoming apparent right before our eyes. You cannot negotiate with the advancing darkness, for it is a sign of weakness and an excuse for further escalation. Any political, economic, cultural and other contacts with the states of the new Axis of Evil must be minimized and completely controlled. If the disease is not managed, it will take over the entire organism. It is impossible to de-escalate the situation absent the demonstration of force that is the only thing tyrants understand.

I want to address my colleagues in the West. It might be very easy and pleasant to feel like Neville Chamberlain, who “brought peace.” Or Theodore Roosevelt, promising that “no American soldier will ever again participate in a European war.” But there is one problem – this path leads to catastrophe with a huge number of casualties and deaths in the near future. Do the main candidates for the US presidency realize this? It is not yet clear.

Peace on the planet can only be guaranteed by the presence of a force ready to ensure it. Be that force, despite the opinions of all of “Putin’s useful idiots.” Stop the Chaos and the Darkness. And ensure real peace for decades to come.

Now is the time.

The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post. 

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