After a mere 25 years, the triumph of the West is over

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tags: election 2016, Trump



Charles Krauthammer writes a weekly political column that runs on Fridays.  Follow @krauthammer

Twenty-five years ago — December 1991 — communism died, the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union disappeared. It was the largest breakup of an empire in modern history and not a shot was fired. It was an event of biblical proportions that my generation thought it would never live to see. As Wordsworth famously rhapsodized (about the French Revolution), “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive/But to be young was very heaven!” 

That dawn marked the ultimate triumph of the liberal democratic idea. It promised an era of Western dominance led by a preeminent America, the world’s last remaining superpower.

And so it was for a decade as the community of democracies expanded, first into Eastern Europe and former Soviet colonies. The U.S. was so dominant that when, on Dec. 31, 1999, it gave up one of the most prized geostrategic assets on the globe — the Panama Canal — no one even noticed. 

That era is over. The autocracies are back and rising; democracy is on the defensive; the U.S. is in retreat. Look no further than Aleppo. A Western-backed resistance to a local tyrant — he backed by a resurgent Russia, an expanding Iran and an array of proxy Shiite militias — is on the brink of annihilation. Russia drops bombs; America issues statements.

What better symbol for the end of that heady liberal-democratic historical moment. The West is turning inward and going home, leaving the field to the rising authoritarians — Russia, China and Iran. In France, the conservative party’s newly nominated presidential contender is fashionably conservative and populist and soft on Vladimir Putin. As are several of the newer Eastern Europe democracies — Hungary, Bulgaria, even Poland — themselves showing authoritarian tendencies. ...




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