Bill Galston in the Wall Street Journal recently put it well: “It is no longer possible to believe, as many did before World War I and again after the collapse of the Soviet Union, that economic considerations dominate politics and make some measures unthinkable.” I remember reading and commenting on Tom Friedman’s book, The World is Flat, upon its release in 2005, in which he celebrated global interdependency and his prediction that no two nations that both had McDonald’s franchises would wage war against each other. Well, guess what? Both Ukraine and Russia have hundreds of McDonald’s stores, so we can again put that naive sentiment to bed. In fact, no less an expert on global affairs and trends than BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has flatly written that “the Russian invasion of Ukraine has put an end to the globalization we have experienced over the past three decades”.
What does this mean? In the current edition of Chief Executive magazine, its CEO Marshall Cooper outlined in some detail “the stew of ingredients that went into Russia’s invasion” and that now, in retrospect, seem wholly predictive for an “all powerful dictator of a country with a proud history exploiting nationalism through visions of restored imperial glory”. I won’t cite the entire list but the one thing they have in common is that every one of the ingredients exists in China today. This should be the lesson from this war to date–a wake up call, a harsh reminder of the continuing importance of hard power, the reality that America’s leadership in the world will require an annual defense budget of much more than 3% of GDP, and a message to dump the “woke” and DEI training of the military. Will President Biden come to this obvious conclusion?