Russia’s war in Ukraine has given Europeans a chance to show that their oft-stated commitment to morality and shared values is more than lofty rhetoric. The single most effective way to force the Kremlin to reverse course is to absorb the costs of cutting off the Russian war machine.
PRINCETON – Since the early 2000s, European leaders and intellectuals have pushed the idea that the European project is not merely about economic opportunities. At its core, they claim, is morality and the promotion of shared values, with the implication that Europe’s soft power is more effective than the hard power of the United States.
It was an easy argument to make under former US President Donald Trump, whose administration was a caricature of foreign policy “realism,” now thrown into sharp relief by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Trump derided Ukraine as a “loser” country, while then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly asked, “Do you think Americans give a fuck about Ukraine?”
Now, Europe has a chance to demonstrate moral leadership in response to a crisis, to back up its lofty rhetoric with action, and to show that Europeans are not hypocrites. The war in Ukraine allows Europe to determine what it is really about. Now that geopolitics is being remade, a united Europe is more necessary than ever. But if Europe is going to rise to the occasion, it must figure out how to act effectively.
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