Julian Lindley-French: HARD TRUTHS AND HARD LESSONS
2023 has been a year of hard truths with the Russo-Ukraine War revealing several hard truths about the US and its Western European allies. First, the Alliance does not know what it wants to happen and cannot agree the price it is willing to pay to end the war. Consequently, there is a creeping narrative that Russia must be understood and accommodated and perhaps a brutal invasion of a neighbouring sovereign country killing many tens of thousands is not as bad as all that. Short of invading NATO Russia’s evil act is just about as bad as it can be for Europe and its security. Second, the Russo-Ukraine War
is intrinsically linked to a wider systemic threat to West democracies posed by China and Russia. Too many NATO allies fail to grip the severity of both and the tipping point which the former has reached. Third, neither the Americans nor Britain, France and Germany seem prepared to put the longer-term security of Europe before their shorter-term domestic imperatives. Consequently, there is an absence of strategic leadership, most notably from Washington. Fourth, illdefined values, which cannot be defended, are now routinely confused within the Alliance with hard interests, particularly in Berlin, London, Washington, and Paris. Dealing with the threat is constantly postponed with the implication that European security is also seen as essentially discretionary. Fifth, even if Ukrainian forces do breakthrough the Surovikin Line and in strength and thereafter chase a rabble of a Russian Army back to the Sea of Azov, what then? Would Russia be defeated? No. However, the mindset in too many Western capitals is that a return to some status quo ante will be possible. It is not.
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