Foreign policy specialists across all spectrums assured us after the Cold War ended that the world was changing. All wars over border control were ended. Soon, wars over oil would be history. The world’s ever-increasing interdependence would lead to peace. Thomas Friedman suggested in his massive 1999 bestseller “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” that no two countries with McDonald’s would go to war with each other; Francis Fukuyama stated in “The End of History and the Last Man” that we had reached the “end-point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”
By adopting what might be called an ostrich policy, the West sought to prove these doubts. It was willing to put security considerations aside and pursue utopian ends with a lot of speed. Germany made itself increasingly dependent upon Russian oil and natural gas in pursuit of the green energy dream for decades, while simultaneously reducing its defense budget by a large percentage of GDP. France was a similar example. The United Kingdom was also similar.
Instead, the West turned to greater economic interdependence through the International Monetary Fund (WTO) and more diplomacy at Davos as well as the United Nations.
The West banked on the inability of its people to see reality. Obama mocked Mitt Romney’s 2012 mistake of telling Americans Russia was a geopolitical enemy. So did Obama’s complaint media. They had called the 1980s and wanted to return their foreign policy.
When aggressive global competitors made clear that they did not buy into the West’s vision of a grand and glorious materialist future combined with welfare statism — that they believed their own national histories had yet to be fully written, and that their centuries-old territorial ambitions were still quite alive — the West simply looked the other way. The West didn’t do anything when Russia invaded Georgia, 2008 In 2014, Russia invaded Crimea. The West did not respond. China broke off its bilateral treaty and took Hong Kong over in 2020. The West was not involved. Then, naturally, President Joe Biden abruptly ended American support for Afghanistan’s regime and toppled it in favor the Taliban.
By simply ending all wars, the West declared that it wanted to create a future without war.
As the West has discovered, war ends only when there are two of you. Russian President Vladimir Putin saw Western weaknesses as the catalyst for his grand strategy move to destroy and occupy Ukraine. Now, the West has seen its reality re-emerged: Yes, American enemies are territorially ambition; they desire more than integration into global markets. In order to reach their goals, they will murder and infiltrate. Technology may have changed, but the human nature of humanity remains unchanged.
As George Orwell wrote in 1940 about the rise of the Nazis, “Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all ‘progressive’ thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security and avoidance of pain… Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades.”
Hitler challenged the West. The West responded. The West appears to be rising up again in response to Russian aggression. It is possible to only hope that this West’s renewed commitment to an old idea, the belief that only Western sense combined with a hardheaded view about power can protect freedom, lasts beyond Putin’s invasion. The reshaping the world order, if it fails, will go on, much to the detriment of a West which is just now getting its head out of the sand.
Ben Shapiro, 38, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show,” and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers “How To Destroy America In Three Easy Steps,” “The Right Side Of History,” and “Bullies.”