Western Unity Starts at Home

Russia’s brutal attack on Ukraine has helped revive and unite the West. But, as economic worries mount, the homegrown threats to US and European liberal democracy that were front and center before the war still require urgent attention.

WASHINGTON, DC – The solidarity on display at the recent NATO, US-EU, and G7 summits has revealed a rejuvenated West. While Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to wage war on Ukraine, the Atlantic democracies are responding with impressive – and somewhat unexpected – unity as they arm Ukraine, reinforce NATO’s eastern flank, and sanction the Russian economy.

Instead of turning away migrants, European Union member states are opening their doors to millions of Ukrainian refugees. The US Congress seems to have rediscovered the bipartisan comity that has long been missing in Washington. The political theorist Francis Fukuyama even foresees a “new birth of freedom” that will “get us out of our funk about the declining state of global democracy,” adding hopefully that “the spirit of 1989 will live on, thanks to a bunch of brave Ukrainians.”

Not so fast. The political ills plaguing the Atlantic democracies may be out of the headlines, but they have not gone away. While Russia’s invasion is certainly a wake-up call for the West, the prospect of a new cold war will not by itself cure the United States and Europe of illiberalism and political dysfunction.