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Strategic Horizons: Russia’s Ukraine Invasion Signifies a Changing Global Order

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Russian troops pouring into Ukraine last weekend were one more wake-up call to America about the scale of Moscow’s ambition. The first came with Stalin’s creation of satellite states in Eastern Europe after World War II; the second was the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Each step reminded Americans that Moscow felt that it had an inherent right to dominate surrounding regions and had no qualms about using force to see that it got what it wanted. Both of these episodes led to American military build-ups and strengthened resolve, thus restoring the containment of Russia. But this latest wake-up may lead in a different direction.

While national security experts talk about the possibility of a new Cold War, something very different may be afoot. Escalating Russian aggression and remilitarization is combining with renewed Japanese nationalism and assertiveness, the economic and military rise of India and China’s growing power, confidence and willingness to challenge the existing order in East Asia. Meanwhile, the United States is experiencing a weariness and unwillingness to act as a global “sheriff,” while the European Union is undergoing a trend toward functional pacifism. Another Cold War seems less likely than a revival of an old international system: a multipolar balance of power. ...

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