Better Late Than Never

Photo: Ukraine army cuts off main road to Sloviansk. Credit: Sasha Maksymenko/Flikr
Photo: Ukraine army cuts off main road to Sloviansk. Credit: Sasha Maksymenko/Flikr

We can avert war in Ukraine. But time is running out.

A new year should bring new resolve. Here are ten suggestions to make the world safer for free countries and more uncomfortable for tyrannies.

1) The United States and other rich countries, especially Germany, should ignore Russia’s threats and send prompt, generous military aid to Ukraine. Providing modern defensive weapons and the training needed to use them is the best way of deterring a Russian attack. One reason is to boost Ukraine’s military resilience. Another is that the more countries that do this, the greater the signal that Russia’s divide-and-rule tactics against the West are not working.

2) The new German government should immediately halt the certification of Nord Stream 2. This Baltic Sea pipeline should be the tombstone of Russian energy blackmail, not its totem. It aims to export not only Russian natural gas, but corruption and political influence. European energy policy should instead focus on diversification and resilience. German and French leaders should also make clear that they will not talk to the Kremlin over the heads of their east European allies.

3) The European Union should support Lithuania against bullying by the Chinese Communist Party. By banning any EU exports with Lithuanian components or connections, the Beijing regime hopes that the rest of Europe will lean on the Baltic state to reverse its pro-Taiwan stance. The pressure must not only fail. It must be seen to be counterproductive. At stake is not only the integrity of the EU’s single market and customs union, but also its role as a credible geopolitical actor.

4) Other European countries (and US allies around the world) should boost their ties with Taiwan. This can involve sending and receiving high-level visitors and upgrading reciprocal diplomatic relations. These symbolic moves send a powerful signal to the Beijing regime: its threats are empty.

5) No diplomats or officials from countries that prize democracy and the rule of law should attend the Beijing Winter Olympics. Sport is part of the Chinese Communist Party’s political machine and it is used to exert influence at home and abroad.

6) NATO should hold snap military exercises in the coming days and weeks in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea regions to demonstrate its ability and willingness to reinforce its eastern members and work with its friends and partners.

7) Sweden and Finland should announce that they are now working to conclude all political, legal, military, and other preparatory work for NATO membership. Any further threats from Russia will not deter them from joining the alliance, but mean that they complete their accession forthwith.

8) The British government should push through much-awaited, much-delayed laws on company registration and beneficial ownership. The country that invented international finance should be ashamed of its role in polluting the system with dirty money and the plague of anonymous companies and other corporate entities.

9) The US should launch an international task force consisting of intelligence officers, prosecutors, and extradition lawyers to end the climate of impunity for “enablers” – the bankers, lawyers, and accountants who facilitate the laundering of kleptocrats’ fortunes. Ending the climate These people should start considering their reputational ruin and their daunting legal bills.

10) The US should relaunch arms-control efforts with Russia at all levels, from strategic nuclear weapons and space warfare to conventional weapons and military exercises.

None of these proposed measures are particularly costly. Indeed, some would actually save money. None of them require big legal or institutional changes. What they do require is political will, and in some cases international coordination. The only thing stopping their implementation is our own timidity. Posterity will regard that with incredulity.

 


Photo: Ukraine army cuts off the main road to Sloviansk. Credit: Sasha Maksymenko/Flikr

January 3, 2022