One hopes that Russian President Vladimir Putin will soon realize that his Ukraine invasion has been a spectacular miscalculation. But even if the current crisis subsides, it should remind Western governments that sustainable growth requires paying for the capacity to sustain economies against external aggression.
CAMBRIDGE – Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine should be a wake-up call for Western politicians, corporate leaders, and economists who advocate a green and equitable future but lack any practical or strategic sense of how to get there. Regardless of what short-term tactics Europe and the United States use in responding to the current crisis, their long-run strategy needs to put energy security on a par with environmental sustainability, and funding essential military deterrence on a par with financing social priorities.
The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 in no small part because Russia’s leaders, most of all President Boris Yeltsin and his economic advisers, recognized that the Soviet communist military-industrial complex could not afford to keep up with the West’s superior economic might and technological prowess. Today, with Russia’s economy less than one-twentieth the combined size of the US and EU economies, the same strategy of vastly outspending Russia on defense should be much easier to execute. Unfortunately, there is a hesitancy in many Western societies, particularly on the left, to admit that defense spending is sometimes a necessity, not a luxury.
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