Designating a domestic enemy allows leaders under attack to paint their political rivals as dissenters, rioters, foreign agents. But naming an outside enemy and pretending to react to the threats it wages is also useful for leaders. By posing as the guarantor of the nation’s utmost interests, such leaders grow in stature. According to Westerners, this explains both why Vladimir Putin has increasingly acted to repress people who oppose him and why he demanded security guarantees on the Ukraine issue that he knew he would not get. However, if we are looking for a president who has an interest in staging a military showdown to fend off unpopularity, Joseph Biden is at least as suitable as his Russian counterpart.
The American press, whose analysis of the situation is being immediately picked up by the French media, explains that “a democratic Ukraine poses a strategic threat to the repressive state that Mr. Putin has built. It could encourage pro-democracy forces in Russia,” as The Wall Street Journal put it. *
However, who believes that the winds of liberty blowing from a country as poor and corrupt as Ukraine, where two main opposition leaders are being prosecuted, has terrified the Kremlin? Nor has Kyiv’s commitment to civil liberties earned it military support from Turkey.
But strong language about democracy in peril, military escalation and bloated Pentagon budgets is all it takes to unite Republican and Democratic elected officials who normally clash with each other and mimic talk about insurrection and civil war. “To defend peace abroad, President Biden needs to make some peace at home,” The Wall Street Journal advises him. “Resistance to Russia unites both progressive and conservative senators.” In short, a conflict with Moscow would somewhat ease political hatred in America.
Donald Trump’s erratic presidency, his two impeachments, the “Russiagate” nonsense, the assault on the Capitol, and charges of voter fraud or gerrymandering have undermined Washington’s standing to lecture the world about democracy. Acknowledging that his prophetic “end of history” didn’t materialize, Francis Fukuyama suggests there are “two key factors [that he] underestimated back then.” One of them was, indeed, “the possibility of political decay in advanced democracies.” Fukuyama warns that internal division in the United States is undermining the West’s power of deterrence.
Still, a few months after the Western debacle in Afghanistan, which concluded without consulting the Europeans who were involved in the venture, and the subsequent American slap in the face to France in the Pacific , Washington can use the Ukrainian crisis to chastise its allies and close ranks on the Old Continent.
*Editor’s note: Although accurately translated, the full content of this quoted remark could not be independently verified.