The last 30 years, prior to Russia’s war against Ukraine and the democratic world, were marked by a “Golden age” for humanity. Decades of prosperity, comfort, and progress amidst the absence of global wars. With the rapid development of free trade, entrepreneurship, industry, investment, and the media market, growth in global household prosperity reached a level one could only have dreamt of just half a century ago.
All this happened because of the victory in the Cold War of the U.S.-led democratic world over the totalitarian bloc of the USSR-orchestrated and led Warsaw Pact. Thanks to this victory, all trading barriers fell and the world is no longer divided between the centers of monopolistic power. Unprecedented opportunities for unobstructed flows of capital, goods and labor are now available to boost the world economy and balance out development between societies.
Currently, all these achievements are being questioned by the autocratic regimes in Russia, China, and even Iran. The ultimatum, issued by the Moscow dictator Vladimir Putin to the civilized world last December, and his declaration of war are attempts to reconsider the outcomes of the Cold War and take the world back to the 1980s. The Russian Fuehrer and his allies want to erase all global achievements made in the last few decades and throw the planet into a civilizational crisis.
The West assumed it had won the Cold War, demolishing the Soviet “evil empire,” but, apparently, failed to tie up loose ends. Now, the “Soviet-Russian empire,” reborn with the tacit support of China, is attempting to set the world back decades and restore the “iron curtain,” defying the principles of global security and global trade. The authoritarian regimes of the East are trying to return the world to the past – the age of empires, the Cold War, bipolar world order, and the monopoly on decision-making through the capitals of global zones of influence.
The United States and its allies benefited the most from the victory in the Cold War in the 1990s. They may also lose the current battle unless they fight back against these frantic dictators. If authoritarian regimes feel the taste of power and impunity, they will blackmail the West and affect democratic decision-making, plunging the world into the abyss of madness. The military, nuclear, and food crisis blackmail will only exacerbate.
It would be too naive to assume that these fundamental geopolitical shifts have nothing to do with common people. In the event that the competitive principles in the global economy and security system collapse, these people in particular will face all the damage. The victory of autocracy would usher in a major income fall, inflation, and soaring utility bills for the U.S. and the remaining democratic countries. The overall drop in living standards would be comparable with that of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Compared to this, current economic issues would seem to be an era of stability.
The prosperous world we all got used to would collapse with the defeat of democracy in this war. The U.S. would lose its status as a superpower and silently accept the Cold War’s comeback, crossing out the achievements attained in 1991. Just a kind reminder of the consequences of Europe’s agreement to reconsider WWI outcomes and the provisions stipulated in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, as initiated by fascist Fuehrer Adolf Hitler. Not to mention all the shame and an even more destructive war that lay ahead.
On the other hand, the victory of the democratic order would provide the U.S. and the West with new and unimagined opportunities in trade and diplomacy. Russia’s defeat and its subsequent dissolution into several independent states may give the West an abundance of competitive and reliable partners, energy suppliers, and new markets of about 200 million consumers in place of one controversial and aggressive monopolist. After the victory, the West would receive unique access to the natural riches of Russia’s former colonies, which are currently being exploited by China.
This war will end only with the total collapse of the “Russian Empire.” The path to victory goes both ways – either independent states are to be formed on the remnants of Russia and integrate into the global trading and security systems based on existing principles, or Russia is to be devoured by China, and its resources go to fuel Chinese expansionism.
The U.S. has to make the USSR fall once again and finish what it started in 1991. The key argument against Russia’s collapse regarding uncontrollable nuclear proliferation would not handle all the criticism. On the contrary, the territory of the “evil empire” might get real non-nuclear status, and the former USSR’s nuclear potential will finally be eliminated, posing no threat to the world.
The key moment in the recognition of the independence of new states located on current Russian territories is the handing over of nuclear weapons to the global community in exchange for security guarantees. The governments of the newly-formed states are to willingly give up their nuclear arsenal in exchange for legitimization and recognition of their regimes. The denuclearization of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan in the post-Soviet era illustrates this point.
Victory over decrepit dictatorial regimes would present the U.S. as a guardian against the collapse of the global economy and the destruction of the global security system. This shared victory would also lay the foundation for peace and prosperity for decades ahead for U.S. residents and the rest of the global population. This had been verified by the collapse of the USSR back in 1991.
The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.
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