Is the West Triumphant Again?

Kishore Mahbubani, Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore

A new tsunami of triumphalism is sweeping across Western capitals, particularly in Washington and London. The illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine has been thwarted. The Ukrainians are putting up a glorious fight to defend their freedom. A new solidarity has been forged between America and Europe. The joint Western sanctions have crippled and isolated the Russian economy. Surely China is quaking in its boots at the thought of similar sanctions being imposed on it.

The above description of Western triumphalism may be an exaggeration, but not by much. There’s only one fundamental problem with a triumphalist mindset: it leads to sloppy geopolitical thinking. And just as the West wasted its post-Cold War “End of History” moment, it could do so again—unless it (especially the United States) recognizes that some hard geopolitical realities haven’t changed. […]
Winston Churchill once wisely advised, “In victory, magnanimity.” A compromise solution in Ukraine, based on Henry Kissinger’s formula of Ukrainian political independence, international neutrality, and national reconciliation would still be the best way out. It’s important to add here that most of the rest of the world (the 88 percent) is genuinely shocked that no major Western voices are advocating peace in Ukraine. Instead, they only hear loud war drums. They would agree that Putin should be condemned for invading Ukraine. But they also believe that a total effort to defeat and eliminate Putin is unwise. The bottom line is that a messy peace that preserves world order is preferable to the instability of a protracted conflict. Läs artikel