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Conrad Black: How the Ukraine crisis could strengthen the West

National Post: 'There are essentially three possible outcomes to this war: the total subjugation of Ukraine, as Putin evidently desires; some sort of compromise, probably based on the Russian-speaking eastern provinces, which Russia has already declared to be autonomous, joining Russia and leaving Ukraine, which would then be entirely autonomous, but forced to commit to not joining the western alliance, though it could have a security guarantee from it; or an indefinite and horribly costly war — an urbanized and more intensely conducted version of the Russian experience in Afghanistan and the American experience in Vietnam, though with nothing like the domestic support that America received from the South Vietnamese army and population....

'...It is now clear that the United States has botched and wasted its period as the world’s only superpower and it is having an aberrant moment of political feebleness and absurdity. But there is no reason to believe that this is the beginning of a permanent decline. And as it goes through this torpor, which is unprecedented in its own history, NATO has shaped up with refreshing and unexpected vigour, Germany has announced its return to its rightful role as Europe’s leading power but in a positive and collegial context, and the long-festering issue of what would happen to the former republics of the U.S.S.R. will be substantially answered satisfactorily. Ukraine may go through a period of Finlandization, but will join the West. The little Baltic countries (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) now seem likely to escape the control of Russia, as do the Caucasian republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. If Putin were to succeed in taking back Ukraine and turning it into another primitive subsidiary of Moscow like Belarus, it would be another severe defeat for the West and a substantial disgorgement of our great and bloodless victory in the Cold War, but this scenario seems extremely unlikely given the level of resistance we’ve witnessed from the Ukrainians.

'Ultimately, the West will emerge stronger from Ukraine’s ordeal, China will receive a substantial disincentive to any thoughts it might have entertained of a military occupation of Taiwan, which would be infinitely more difficult than the attack on Ukraine, and Russia will certainly tire before long of the overlordship of China, giving us another chance to attract it to the West, where it belongs. We should have paid much greater attention to former Russian president Boris Yeltsin’s, and even the early Putin’s, suggestions that Russia join NATO, as we should have paid greater attention to the security guarantee that the five permanent United Nations Security Council members gave Ukraine when it (and Belarus and Kazakhstan) voluntarily abandoned the nuclear weapons that they inherited from the Soviet Union in 1994....'

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