Notable and quotable: Russia, Ukraine and nation states

Mar 30, 2022 6:18pm ET

Christopher DeMuth will deliver the opening address at the Brussels National Conservatism Conference on March 23.


National Conservatism

Christopher DeMuth of the Hudson Institute in his opening address at the European National Conservatism Conference in Brussels on March 23:

Russia’s recent war was analyzed in terms of spheres of influence, the return of great power competition, dictatorship versus democracy. But the heart of the matter is the integrity of the nation. An imperial power invaded a peaceful, self-governing nation to conquer it, with the aim of conquering its territory, its farms and its industries, subjugating its people and wiping out its traditions and institutions. Because of this, Ukraine has become a popular thing around the world. The Ukrainians are screaming, this is our country, our homeland, our country. President Zelensky compares the struggle and heroism of his countrymen with the historic struggles and heroes of other nations; He’s even clumsy enough to name names while other nations overthrow their heroes. You don’t have to have a degree in political science to understand this war. Also, do not be overwhelmed by the bravery and determination of Ukrainians and do not think about your responsibility for your own national home.

And the answer to that was a gathering of sovereign nations such as no living man has seen before. In the nation-state order, each nation defends the overall order as its own interests require or permit. Some nations have been constrained by their existential dependency on Russian energy; others believe they could play a useful role as diplomatic facilitators; Also, we need a delegation to tell Putin that he has lost. Fears that his own nation might be next on Putin’s hit list, or that he is desperate to bring nuclear or chemical weapons into play, have provoked a wide range of reactions both among and within nations. But the overall response has been to provide massive defense weapons and intelligence, logistical and humanitarian support, reject Putin, and isolate Russia’s economy. Most striking were the many reversals in national defense, energy, and fiscal policies that would have been unthinkable the day before the invasion. . . .

The newly engaged nation-states came into play [Ukraine and pandemic] Crises woefully unprepared after a long period of restlessness, rampant politics and, for many, mediocre leadership. Sovereignty must be continually earned — through prudent finances and low public debt, diversification of energy supplies and other necessities of national independence, and extensive natural disaster preparedness and military defenses. Lacking these fundamentals, we have had to face many tragic decisions that have been more painful and costly than they should have been. After witnessing a demonstration of national self-determination that will reverberate through history, we might be inspired to greater political seriousness in our own nations.

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Appeared in the print edition of March 31, 2022 as “Notable & Quotable: Ukraine and National-States”. Notable and quotable: Russia, Ukraine and nation states

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