Sleep­walk­ing West

Kyiv Post - - Opinion -

That the West is in dis­ar­ray as 2018 ends is clear. Marc Cham­pion of Bloomberg got it right in his great Dec. 16 lead: "The old co­nun­drum of who to call if you want to speak to 'Europe' now ap­plies to 'the West' as a whole."

The United States is run by a cor­rupt mis­fit. The United King­dom is dis­tracted and di­min­ished. France is in tur­moil. Ger­many is un­der­go­ing a lead­er­ship change and still way too am­biva­lent. The Euro­pean Union, as usual, is slow-footed and hand­i­capped by the dis­unity of its 28 na­tions.

But the big­gest prob­lem is that the demo­cratic West, col­lec­tively, is still sleep­wak­ing about the need to iso­late and con­tain the rogue dic­ta­tor­ship of Rus­sia's Vladimir Putin. Un­til the West re­al­izes that this is a civ­i­liza­tional war that it must win, the Krem­lin will score more vic­to­ries in 2019.

Trump ends the year play­ing into Putin's hands by with­draw­ing U.S. forces from Syria, giv­ing Syr­ian dic­ta­tor Bashar al-As­sad a freer hand. Ger­many still doesn't want to ad­mit the im­moral­ity of go­ing ahead with the multi­bil­lion-dol­lar Nord Stream pipe­line with Rus­sia. France doesn't have the strength to do it alone. And too many in the EU want busi­ness as usual with Rus­sia. It won't work with Putin, now or ever. It's no won­der that such in­ef­fec­tive­ness and weak­ness among some of these na­tions makes for in­ef­fec­tive and weak am­bas­sadors sta­tioned in Kyiv.

The West must go back to the ba­sics: re­spect for democ­racy, free speech, eco­nomic jus­tice, hu­man rights and com­pas­sion.

In for­eign af­fairs, the West must unite and un­der­stand that, col­lec­tively, free na­tions are stronger than any oth­ers in the world. What's needed are mod­ern-day equiv­a­lents of Pope John Paul II, Ron­ald Rea­gan, Lech Walesa and oth­ers. To­day's lead­ers still have im­pe­ri­al­ism, dic­ta­tor­ship, ter­ror­ism, poverty and in­jus­tice to crush, wher­ever it ex­ists on the planet.

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