Anthony Stahelski

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The war in Ukraine provides lessons for both democracies and dictatorships. The democracy lesson is one that democracies have learned in the past and subsequently forgotten: They must band together or they will be picked off one at a time by aggressive dictatorships. Putin’s invasion has reinvigorated and expanded NATO. Hopefully the NATO renewal will continue beyond the Ukrainian war, since NATO is the only viable pro-democracy multi-national alliance in the world. Possibly NATO will be needed to counteract future dictatorial aggression, such as a Chinese attack on Taiwan.

The lessons for dictatorships are numerous. NATO’s vigorous reaction to the invasion has been a shock to Putin because he made a common dictatorial mistake: he underestimated his opponents. Not only did he underestimate NATO’s aggressive response, he underestimated the courage and tenacity of the Ukrainians. Furthermore, he made the underlying assumption that democracies are too weak, too soft, too irresolute to combat dictatorial aggression.

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