The weak West needs to stop cowering and put its foot down – Will S

THIS PIECE IS AN OP-ED. AS SUCH, IT IS AN EXPRESSION OF ITS AUTHOR’S VIEWS. ALL STUDENTS ARE WELCOME TO SPEAK WITH MR HODSON AND MISS TAYLOR PAYNE ABOUT WRITING SUCH A PIECE OF THEIR OWN.

As you might have heard… there’s a war on. Obviously you’ve heard. But perhaps not obviously because it’s not a war in which we’re directly involved. Yet. Or, it seems, ever, especially under the leadership of a weak, aged man who confuses Iran with Ukraine. An easy mistake to make.

Biden has his strengths; his regime has brought about intelligent, science-led covid rules in the US and has seen an infrastructure bill that will rejuvenate and revitalise the country. This is great if you live in the US. If you happen to live in Ukraine though (and some might add, Afghanisthan), this is not great. This is not great because rather than the teacher protecting you from the playground bully, they are leaving you to fend for yourself. This analogy is rather appropriate for the current global geopolitical situation in that the US, the teacher, is telling off the bully, Russia (in this instance Putin and his oligarch pals), who is beating the small kid, Ukraine, to a pulp. The teacher is threatening detentions but the bully won’t feel the pain of those until next Saturday at 7pm, so right now, they don’t really care. Furthermore, the bully will never truly feel the punishment because they are insulated by their many lower and middle class citizens who will bear the brunt of the sanctions. In fairness, the oligarchs are believed to have lost $80 billion due to sanctions, which is not an insignificant amount of money.

I am not a supporter of Donald Trump but in this situation I might prefer to have him over Biden, though I’m not sure who I would trust more with the nuclear button. One of the two is not particularly level headed and could hit the button out of frustration whilst the other might twinge his back and hit it by mistake. At this point though whatever President there may be, it is too late for the West to get involved unless there are any major developments. We were far too scared to protect Ukraine to begin with, which is evident in our failure to admit them to the EU and NATO. Then, when we had hard evidence to prove invasion was coming, we still did nothing. Plans for harsh sanctions weren’t in place in time, and by the time they were in existence, half the people they targeted were on their way to the Maldives in their super-yachts. The Maldives conveniently does not have a US extradition treaty.

What’s more, we didn’t send Ukraine the weapons it needed to defend itself when war broke out; they needed defensive weapons before the bombs started to fall. While Russia may have characterised this as aggressive western intervention, it wouldn’t have been the first time the UK or America has surreptitiously supplied a country with arms. We needed to tighten the leash on Russia rather than loosen it, and yet over the last two decades our greed has prevented us from doing so. Now its our fear that stops us from doing so and it begs the question: should Putin expand further than just Ukraine, will we change stance? Where is the line that has to be crossed for the West to take robust military action?

NATO has by far and away the greatest military might on the planet and could decimate the Russian army, but it does nothing, eager to protect precious stock markets, while clinging to technicalities about protocol; the moral imperative to help victims of war should far outweigh such concerns. Not only may our actions in this instance lead to the destruction of a sovereign nation, but they also encourage other expansionists to follow their dreams. If Putin can invade Ukraine without military confrontation, why can’t Xi Jinping do the same? After all, those pesky economic sanctions will disappear when westerners realise they care more about the cost of their electricity than little things like democracy, sovereignty and the protection of allies.

Ever since the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, and particularly since the rise of Putin, the West has been losing its handle on Russian politics. Once the new millennium started, many western leaders began to see Russia as just another nation. It is not. Many of the people living in Russia will have fought for the USSR and perhaps governed their satellite states. This is why many people were supportive of Putin in his early days: an ex-KGB (USSR secret service) leader in their country. Whilst the west were busy doing deals with one of the most naturally resource-rich countries on the planet, their leader was secretly scheming how he would restore his nation’s superpower status. He began this by evading the strict two-term rule in the Russian constitution, making himself president, then prime minister then president again. Next, he needed to expand. He started this by annexing Crimea, a small peninsula on the south coast of Ukraine; it seems we should have been more concerned. Ukraine is suffering now. Who knows what the future holds? If Putin survives this crisis, it is reckoned he could be in power until 2036

WS

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