Archive for the ‘GEOPOLITICS’ Category

THE RISE OF GERMANY 1871 – 1914 – A VIEW FROM CHINA

April 18, 2017

Washington Times on April 9, 2017, published a review by Martin Rubin of a book by the deputy director of the Institute for Strategic Studies at Beijing’s National Defense University, Xu Qiyu on the rise of Germany from the uniting of the German states to the World War I (”Fragile Rise: Grand Strategy and the Fate of Imperial Germany, 1871 – 1914”, The MIT Press, 341 pages). At this point it is of interest that there is interest in Beijing in this fateful European development leading to world war. Excerpts below:

Inevitably, though, given the current geopolitical scene and the common feeling about the threat posed by China’s extraordinary rise to the future of the United States as the world’s dominant superpower, its discussion of Germany’s challenge to the Pax Britannica, which had held sway for a century, will be read as a kind of allegory of today’s situation.

Lest anyone miss this in Xu’s own text — and despite his suppleness as a writer few American readers will do so — the foreword by Graham Allison, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, makes it plain:

“Although Xu refrains from stating them explicitly, ‘Fragile Rise’ holds a number of important lessons for the rise of China in our own time. China’s rapidly growing economic and military power will inevitably create structural stress between China and the United States Whatever the intentions of leaders of both nations, they will have to recognize and manage the risks that inevitably accompany changes in the international balance of power.

‘Fragile Rise’ provides an important clue for Chinese leaders hoping to negotiate the structural stress created by their country’s ascendance.”

…the book’s translator, Joshua Hill, an assistant professor of history at Ohio University, lays it on…plainly:

“Make no mistake — ‘Fragile Rise’ is profoundly about contemporary. China As Xu Qiyu wrote on the original cover ‘When it is difficult to see clearly into the future, looking back to history, even the history of other peoples, might be the right choice.’

The reference to Bismarck is telling, for I think it is fair to say that if “Fragile Rise” has a hero it is Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who created the German Empire and whose wise leadership and diplomatic skills took it from strength to strength under its first Emperor Wilhelm I for nearly two decades.

China with its rigid party structure shares the authoritarianism which may well have — and had — inherent seeds of catastrophic choices.

There are at least as many differences and similarities between the past and present challenges to the prevailing ones. As we see in the sad end of “Fragile Rise,” the complex intertwined familial connections between the rulers of the monarchies that went to war in 1914 counted for little when push came to strategic shove. Common adversaries and different sorts of links between the United States and China may well prove to be similarly irrelevant.

Martin Rubin is a writer and critic in Pasadena, California.

Comment: The U.S. relationship with China was during the Cold War influenced by geostrategic interests. President Ronald Reagan once stated that the Red Chinese were a bunch of murdering bums. But there was a big chess game going on.

Since the fall of the Soviet empire interests have almost become altogether commercial.

National security interests have not counted for much during Democratic administrations post-1991. There have been some efforts by America to focus more on the rise of China but greater efforts are needed. One can only hope that the present U.S. administration is learning from history. It is not only the experience of the past rise of Germany (once predicted by American geopolitician Homer Lea). The rise of Japan was to a great extent neglected by the United States. Homer Lea also brought up the Japanese threat. His book on the subject was ignored. The Pearl Harbor happened.

The blind financing of China in the hope that this communist regime will voluntarily give up power can one day come back to haunt the United States and the rest of the West.

EMPIRE FOR LIBERTY – PURCHASING ALASKA 150 YEARS AGO

April 2, 2017

”We should have such an Empire for Liberty as [the world] has never surveyed since the Creation…” wrote Thomas Jefferson to James Madison on April 27, 1809. After the defeat of Soviet communism in 1991 the United States has been an unchallenged hegemon in the world. Now it is challenged by three empires on the World Island: China, Russia and Iran/Persia. As America is promoting liberty it must not sacrifice the liberties it has at home. To continue to function as the strong defender of the West America must also heed the warnings of Jefferson. It must not be entangled in a profusion of treaties and institutions that will serve only to hinder it from defending its moral and national security interests. That is why the Iran deal of Obama was wrong and could only strengthen Iran to continue its attacks on the United States (and Israel).

The purchase of Alaska in 1867 (celebrated in 2017) marked the end of Russian efforts to increase its imperial and colonial expansion to the East. For America it was the beginning of its rise in the Asia-Pacific. In 1725 Peter I sent the Dane Vitus Bering to explore the area around the strait that would later be named the Bering Strait. America had expanded over the continent to the west during the first half of the 19th century. It then had to compete with Russian traders. Fortunately the Russian empire lacked the financial resources to establish a heavy military presence in what was called Russian America.

Russia therefore in 1859 wanted to sell Alaska to the United States in 1859 but the American Civil War delayed the sale. It was not until after the war that Secretary of State William Seward agreed on March 30, 1867, to purchase Alaska for $7.2 million. The Senate approved the treaty of purchase and President Andrew Johnson signed the treaty on May 28.

It was however not until October 18, 1867 that United States formally took posession of the new territory in a ceremony in Sitka, Alaska. In 1884 a civil government was constituted. It was not until 1896 that a major gold deposit was discovered in the Yukon and made Alaska into a gateway to the goldfields.

The strategic importance of Alaska was discovered during World War II and the Cold War. In 1959 the territory joined the United States as a state.

This contribution will be followed by a sketch of the influence of admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan and his classical geopolitical works on the policy of the United States after 1890 to secure the Empire For Liberty of Jefferson.

TYSKA SPD OCH BLOCKET PARIS-BERLIN-MOSKVA

March 24, 2017

Tyskland drabbades på slutet av 1990-talet av en socialdemokratisk kansler vid namn Gerhard Schröder. Denne försökte bygga upp en slags motvikt mot Förenta Staterna. Med Frankrike inom EU ville han skapa ett politiskt block som samarbete med Ryssland. När Putin fyllde 70 år (2014) var Schröder i Moskva. Det var då omfamningar i rysk stil mellan kanslern och ledaren i Kreml. Den förre kanslern betraktar den ryske självhärskaren som ”en fullblodsdemokrat”.

År 2014 var den pensionerade tyske kanslern styrelseordförande i gasbolaget Nord Stream, som kontrolleras av ryska Gasprom. Arvodet lär då ha varit 250 000 euro. Det ryska gasledningsprojektet i Östersjön berör i högsta grad Sverige och Finland.

Efter den ryska ockupationen av Krim och angreppet på östra Ukraina finns det anledning att inför det tyska valet 2017 varna för SPD:s utrikespolitiska arv: vänskapen med Putins regim.

Det finns inom EU en rad krafter som ser ner på Ukraina som självständig stat. En sådan åsikt ligger nära den ryska uppfattningen om Ukraina som en del av Ryssland. I ett kraftigt försvagat EU med ökande kritik från en rad medlemmar i unionen är det betydelsefullt med fortsatt borgerligt styre i Berlin. Drömmen om EU med Ryssland som partner mot USA har kraschat. Idag utgör Ryssland, Kina och Iran/Persien allvarliga hot mot Väst. Mer än någonsin behövs nu ett nära samarbete över Atlanten. Brexit gör det troligt att Storbritannien i allt större utsträckning närmar sig USA.

Den nuvarande ryska geopolitiska doktrinen går ut på att återställa det ryska inflytandet i Europa samtidigt som man i Kreml söker ett närmare samarbete med Kina och Iran. Man bör i de europeiska huvudstäderna betänka Putins varning från 2005: ”Sovjetunionens sönderfall är 1900-talets största geopolitiska katastrof”.

Den amerikanske klassiske geopolitikern och Yaleprofessorn Nicholas Spykman varnade för koalitioner på världsön (Europa och Asien) som kunde utmana västligt inflytande. Särskilt viktigt var det att Väst engagerade sig inom randområdet. Både Kina och Mellanöstern med Iran ligger i randområdet runt världsön. Den ökande ryska aktiviteten i randområdesstaten Syrien är ett tecken på att Ryssland nu öppet börjar utmana Väst i det betydelsefulla område som sträcker sig från Sverige i norra Europa via Mellanöstern, Indien, Sydöstasien till Kina/Nordkorea.

Den ryska strävan till ökat inflytande på världsön har nyligen (2016) behandlats i boken ”The Russian Project of Eurasian Integration: Geopolitical Prospects” av Nataliya A. Vasileyeva and Maria L. Lagutina (Lexington Books). I boken presenteras bland annat Moskvas syn på en euroasiatisk ekonomisk union som en del av rysk politik i vad den klassiske brittiske politikern Halford Mackinder på 1900-talet betecknade som hjärtlandet. Boken förtjänar att uppmärksammas i Sverige, som har ett utsatt geopolitiskt läge när Ryssland nu söker återuppbygga sitt imperium i Europa.

REAGAN’S STRATEGIC DEFENSE INITIATIVE – 34 YEARS LATER A REALITY

March 22, 2017

Washington Times on March 20, 2017 published a commentary by Ed Feulner on President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative. Reagan had in March 1983 said it was an initiative that would change history. So it has, argues Mr. Feulner. Excerpts below:

His speech [on March 23, 1983] introduced Americans and the world to SDI, a comprehensive, layered ballistic missile-defense program designed to protect the United States and its allies from a threat that had bedeviled it for more than 20 years. It marked a true turning point in our adversarial relationship with the Soviet Union.

The Heritage Foundation was privileged to lay the visionary groundwork that led to Reagan’s historic announcement. The year before the president’s SDI address, the Foundation published its first missile-defense study, “High Frontier: A New National Strategy.” The study proposed a comprehensive system, including laser weapons capable of intercepting Soviet missiles as they were launched or while they traveled in space toward the United States.

At that point, most of the country’s policymaking elite considered Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD, appropriately enough) an acceptable policy to deter the Soviet Union.

Most policymakers believed MAD was enough to ensure the Soviet Union would never attack, and that any missile defenses could upset the delicate balance of assured destruction.

President Reagan was skeptical of the MAD doctrine.

Adversaries and potential adversaries have chosen to exploit U.S. vulnerability and invested heavily in ballistic missiles, as well as programs researching and developing lethal payloads for them. As Heritage has continued to emphasize, the threat from ballistic missiles is only 33 minutes away.

Building on President Reagan’s legacy, the United States slowly woke to the ballistic-missile threat, withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that prohibited missile-defense deployments in 2002, and started an initial missile-defense program designed to protect the country, forward-deployed troops and allies from primarily Iranian and North Korean ballistic missiles.

…a lot more work remains to be done, especially since the program was hampered at times by the Obama administration. The new administration must invest in space-based missile-defense interceptors, as envisioned under SDI. We must develop and deploy directed-energy weapons, building on the research and development legacy of the SDI program.

Thirty-four years ago, Ronald Reagan described a visionary goal to help secure our country. Now we must build on his vision…

Ed Feulner is founder of the Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).

RUDOLF KJELLÉN IN THE WORLD TODAY

February 15, 2017

Rudolf Kjellén (1864 – 1922), a Swedish geographer published his works in Swedish, which made him less accessible to those who were not familiar with the Swedish language. This denied large parts of academia the acquaintance with and examination of his work. Some of his books were translated into German, but there has so far been little interest in him in the Anglo-Saxon world.

One of his classical geopolitical works, The Great Powers (Stormakterna), appeared in a first edition 1905 in Sweden. It had over 20 editions in Germany.

Latin America

Today he is probably best known in South America, where classical geopolitics has remained strong (see Phillip Kelly, Checkerboards & Shatterbelts – The Geopolitics of South America, Austin: University of Texas Press 1997).

In 1902 Kjellén had been appointed professor of political science and statistics at the University of Gothenburg.

Japan

Kjellén was interested in Japan and its rise in the Far East. In his view Japan and China, once free of Western control, would be great powers of the future. Their rise would come as the European powers declined. He was also critical of colonialism and racism.

In 1909 he traveled to Japan and China, a journey that would have significant influence on his geopolitical research. On this trip around the world he travelled first by train through Siberia and arrived in Beijing in April 1909. After 12 days in the Chinese capital he concluded in his diary that the days of European power were coming to an end. The powers, in his view, acted with hubris and arrogance.

On steamer he continued to Japan and made his base in Yokohama. There he was invited to stay in the home of the Swedish diplomat Gustaf Oskar Wallenberg (1863 – 1937).

For more on Kjellén and Japan see Bert Edström’s “Rudolf Kjellén och Japan”, journal Orientaliska studier, No. 89, 1996, pp. 12 – 35 and Storsvensken i Yttersta Östern – G.O. Wallenberg som svenskt sändebud i Japan, 1906 – 1918, Working Paper 52, August 1999, Center for Pacific Asia Studies, University of Stockholm.

In June he sailed on the “Empress of India” across the Pacific Ocean to Vancouver. From there he crossed Canada on the Canadian Pacific Railway to board the Atlantic liner for Europe and Sweden. On July 13 he was back in Gothenburg after a four month tour.

In the autumn of 1916 Kjellén wrote the introduction to a work that would give him international fame, ”The State as a Life-Form”. The book was a bestseller in its Japanese edition.
Great Britain and Russia.

After the Great War he saw Great Britain and Russia grow into “planetarian” powers or superpowers in today’s terminology. The United States is today a hegemon far more powerful than the United Kingdom. Already in 1919, he predicted a development towards superpower influence in the world. These views were based on the future strength of geographically and demographically large countries. In fact his predictions were proven correct. During the Cold War, for instance, the United States and the Soviet Union were the geographically large and dominating superpowers. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 China and India, for example, have risen to become great powers, both having large populations.

Kjellen and the Genocidal Vladimir I Lenin

The Swedish geopolitician published a number of articles with sharp criticism of Lenin and communist ideology. The article on Lenin ended with the words: “Only history will in the future show if Vladimir I. Lenin was a scourge or God or the devil.”

On Marx he remarked that he was a curious bastard of Hegel (form) and Rousseau (content). Half a million Bolsheviks ruled the 100 million of Russia. This half million was controlled by a couple of hundred tyrants in the Kremlin. If one of the usual labels is to be attached to that kind of state, it would be that of aristocracy in the degenerate form known as oligarchy.

Finally Kjellén focused on the question of the “historical side” of a state and movements that can occur. The “historical side” of Russia has for instance been the movement from the Baltic Sea-the Barents Sea to the Black Sea-the Mediterranean and then (1878) to the Far East and after 1905 mainly southward. An important aspect of this is also the movement of capital cities: Moscow to St. Petersburg and back to Moscow and in Turkey from Istanbul to Ankara.
Geopolitics, both as Kjellén viewed it and in its main Western stream, (Mackinder, Mahan, Spykman et al) is a science between history, geography and political science but it can also be regarded as an aid to all three.

Kjellén correctly predicted the collapse of the Habsburg Empire, the gradual decline of France as a great power and the decay of the British Empire.

These predictions were based on the view that the European great powers were influenced by hubris of superiority, which would lead to resistance and liberation in the colonial world. The father of geopolitics also believed Islam would be a rising threat in global politics due to the weakening of European great powers.

He also correctly predicted the coming of World War I already in 1899. In that he was not of course alone. Kjellén based the forecast on the growing antagonism of on one side of Great Britain and France. On the other side was Germany and Austria.

Conclusion

It is possible that Kjellen would today have viewed Russia, China and Iran (Persia) as the foremost challengers to the United States, Great Britain and Japan. The Swedish geopolitician could in the 21st century be a valuable tool for grand strategists, geopoliticians and geostrategists. We live in dangerous times.

TEXT OF US ALABAMA GOVERNOR’S STATE OF THE STATE SPEECH 2017

February 8, 2017

Washington Times on February 7, 2017, published the text of Governor Robert Bentley’s State of the State adress. Remarks as prepared, Excerpts below:

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP)

Companies and industries have poured over 24-billion dollars of investment into Alabama, in our people and in the belief that their products will be made best when they are Made in Alabama.

Companies like Polaris, in Huntsville, are building and producing ATV’s and hiring 17-hundred Alabamians and creating hundreds of positions for technicians, programmers and welders. GE Aviation is investing more than $200 million to build two factories in Huntsville and is expected to employ up to 300 people. And it’s not just our larger cities with new well-paying jobs. With an intentional focus on bringing jobs to rural Alabama we bring industry to our smallest towns. Moller Tech is building a 46-million dollar flagship facility in Woodstock, in Bibb County, supplying Mercedes and hiring 220 Alabamians. Alabama’s auto industry hit another record high in 2016, as workers at Hyundai, Mercedes and Honda rolled out over a million Alabama-made vehicles. Montgomery’s new Hyundai Santa Fe, Lincoln’s new Honda Ridgeline and Tuscaloosa’s four Mercedes models are all taking center on the world stage. Besides receiving awards for some of the best vehicles on the market, they all have one important thing in common – their Home’s in Alabama. We opened Alabama’s newest Interstate – I -22, not just providing convenience and safer travel for our people, but paving the way for greater economic development in financially-strapped Northwest Alabama. There is simply no place like Alabama’s beautiful Gulf Coast, and the incredible Gulf State Park Project is well on its way to becoming an international benchmark of economic and environmental sustainability. On track to open next year, the Gulf State Park Project will be the pride of our state for outdoor recreation, education and hospitality. Economic opportunity grows and thrives in our state, especially for the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our state and our country, yet ask for so little. Alabama is the proud home of over 420-thousand Veterans, and through the Alabama Executive Veterans Network – or AlaVetNet, and the Alabama Small Business Commission we are making sure veteran owned businesses succeed and prosper. And today Alabama’s Unemployment Rate for Veterans stands at 4.1 percent – lower than the overall state and national rate.

Comment: States all over the United States are focusing on job creation. Alabama is a fine example of the upturn in US economy after January 2017. Especially important is investment in the Huntsville area.

SECURITY ADVISER FLYNN SAYS IRAN IS ON NOTICE

February 2, 2017

Fox News on Februari 1, 2017, reported that US National Security Adviser Mike Flynn said the Trump administration is putting Iran “on notice” after it tested a ballistic missile and Tehran-backed militants attacked a Saudi naval vessel. Excerpts below:

The implications of the warning are unclear, but Flynn pointedly criticized the Obama administration for failing “to respond adequately” to Iran’s provocative behavior.

“As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice,” Flynn said, speaking to reporters in the White House briefing and also issuing a written statement.

At a press briefing later on Februari 1 a senior administration official declined to elaborate on how Iran would be held accountable, saying, “there are a large range of options available to the administration, from financial and economic…to pursuing other options related to support for those that are challenging and opposing Iranian malign activity in the region.”

Asked if that would include a military option, the official replied, “we are considering a whole range of options. We’re in a deliberative process.”

Flynn blasted Iran’s “destabilizing behavior,” saying the recent missile launch defied a U.N. Security Council resolution.

“The Obama Administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions—including weapons transfers, support for terrorism, and other violations of international norms,” Flynn said. “The Trump Administration condemns such actions by Iran that undermine security, prosperity, and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East and … place American lives at risk.”

A defense official said this week that the missile test ended with a “failed” re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere.

The attack on a Saudi vessel, meanwhile, was carried out by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the Red Sea.

Two Saudi sailors were killed and three were wounded. Fox News reported earlier this week that, according to two defense officials, the attack may have been meant for an American warship.

In audio heard on a video of the attack, a voice narrating the attack shouts in Arabic, “Allahu akbar [God is great], death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews and victory for Islam.

Comment: US allies in the area have with growing concern noted the lack of American response to Iranian subversive activities. The reaction in Israel is naturally one of relief. The growing influence of Iran in the Middle East threatens not only the Jewish state.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SHOULD WORK WITH IRAN OPPOSITION

January 16, 2017

Fox News on January 15, 2017 reported that former top U.S. government officials have urged President-elect Donald Trump to work with Iran’s opposition once in office. A letter signed by 23 former officeholders calls on Trump to consult with the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The group has called for free elections and freedom of religion in Iran, as well as an end to what it calls Tehran’s “religious dictatorship.” Excerpts below:

…the NCRI’s network of supporters in Iran helped the U.S. with intelligence during the Iraq invasion. The group also helped expose Iran’s nascent nuclear weapons program.

“Iran’s rulers have directly targeted US strategic interests, policies and principles, and those of our allies and friends in the Middle East,” the letter reads, in part. “To restore American influence and credibility in the world, the United States needs a revised policy.”

Last month, Fox obtained a letter to Trump from a group of Iranian dissidents that urged the president-elect to follow through on his campaign promise to revisit the nuclear deal between Iran and six global powers, including the U.S.

Comment: There is a real threat of Iran to Western interests. Persian nationalists want to create a Greater Iran while building up the military strength of the new empire. Also they are forming a front with the Syrian regime together with Lebanese as well as Sudanese terrorists. To the east Iran seeks to merge Middle East and South Asian conflicts and wants to undermine and bring down Turkey.

US DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE GEN. JAMES MATTIS WARNS OF HISTORIC THREAT TO THE WEST

January 13, 2017

Fox News on January 12, 2017, reported that Defense secretary nominee Gen. James Mattis issued a grave warning at his Senate confirmation hearing, saying the established world order is under its “biggest attack” since World War II as he called for boosting military readiness and America’s alliances. Excerpts below:

Citing Russia’s aggressions and other concerns, he said: “I think [the world order is] under the biggest attack since World War II … from Russia, from terrorist groups and with what China is doing in the South China Sea.”
To address this, Mattis testified, “deterrence is critical.”

His assessment came as he called for strengthening “military readiness”…He said U.S. forces must be the “best led, best equipped and most lethal in the world.”
“If you confirm me, my watchwords will be solvency and security in providing for the protection of our people and the survival of our freedoms,” he said.

The question of budget restraints at the Pentagon is a critical one for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Senator McCain warned at Thursday’s hearing that the military can’t proceed with “business as usual” as he ripped “arbitrary” congressional caps on spending.

Mattis’ testimony falls amid a packed week of confirmation hearings for top Trump Cabinet nominees, including Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Rex Tillerson for secretary of state.

In prepared remarks for the hearing, Mattis expressed unqualified support for traditional U.S. international alliances.

Mattis is a former leader of NATO’s transformation command, in charge of efforts to adapt the alliance’s structure and capabilities to 21st century threats.
In his testimony, he spoke about the importance of the alliance, calling for the U.S. to maintain “the strongest possible relationship with NATO.”

On the Iran nuclear deal, Mattis said he would not have personally signed the pact, but said that when America gives its word, we have to “live up to it.”

Mattis, 66, is one of three recently retired senior generals selected by Trump for top jobs in his administration.

After retiring, Mattis joined the Hoover Institution, a conservative-leaning think tank. He also is a member of the board of directors of General Dynamics, the big defense contractor.

He has remained outspoken in his concerns about Iran. In remarks last April at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Mattis called Iran “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.”

Mattis is best known as a battle-hardened combat officer who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. But he also has worked behind the scenes with senior civilian officials at the Pentagon.

Comment: Gen. Mattis will most likely be confirmed by the Senate. It is of great importance for the West as a whole that the United States will have an experienced military leader as Secretary of Defense. Mattis made clear during the Senate hearings that he regards Russia, China, and Iran along with terrorist groups to be greatest present challenges to the West. The passed 8 years have weakened the position of the United States in the world. Increased military spending is of great importance. European NATO member countries need to spend at least 2 percent of GNP on defense during the coming years. The strategically important non-aligned Sweden with defense spending of 1 percent of GNP (lowest spending in Europe) endangers NATO’s Baltic Sea area security. The present government in Stockholm refuses to increase defense spending.

FALL OF THE SOVIET UNION AND THE FAILURE OF THE WEST

December 19, 2016

Wall Street on December 16, 2016, published an article by Garry Kasparov on what happened after the fall of the Soviet Union 25 years ago. At first Gasparov was an optimist hoping for freedom and democracy for all peoples of the Soviet Union. Excerpts below:

Earlier visits to Western Europe confirmed my suspicions that it was in the U.S.S.R. where life was distorted, as in a funhouse mirror.

“Gorbachev’s perestroika is another fake,” Czech-American Director Milos Forman at a meeting warned that the Soviet leader’s loosening of state controls, “and it will end up getting more hopeful people killed.” I insisted that Mr. Gorbachev would not be able to control the forces he was unleashing. Mr. Forman pressed me for specifics: “But how will it end, Garry?”

I replied—specifics not being my strong suit—that “one day, Miloš, you will wake up, open your window, and they’ll be gone.”

The U.S.S.R. ceased to exist in 1991, but there are plenty of repressive, authoritarian regimes thriving in 2016. The difference, and I am sad to say it, is that the citizens of the free world don’t much care about dictatorships anymore, or about the 2.7 billion people who still live in them.

Ronald Reagan’s warning that “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction” was never meant to be put to the test, but it is being tested now. If anything, Reagan’s time frame of a generation was far too generous. The dramatic expansion of freedom that occurred 25 years ago may be coming undone in 25 months.

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the U.S.S.R. was the end of watch for the anti-Communist coalition formed by Harry Truman after World War II.

The U.S. in 1992 had unrivaled global power and influence, more than at any other time in history. Yet instead of using it to shape a new global framework to protect and project the values of democracy and human rights—as Truman had done immediately to put Stalin in check—the free world acted as though the fight had been won once and for all.

Even worse, we made the same mistake in Russia and in many other newly independent states. We were so eager to embrace the bright future that we failed to address our dark past. There were no truth commissions, no lustration—the shining of light on past crimes and their perpetrators—no accountability for decades of repression.

We in Russia naively equated democracy with wealth, as if the ballot box functioned like an ATM—and we looked on enviously as many of our former Warsaw Pact brethren enjoyed the benefits of massive Western investment. With so few strings attached to the loans and credits Russia received, it was easy for the well-connected to game and profit from the system.

When Vladimir Putin took power in 2000, he found few obstacles capable of resisting his instinct to remake Russia in his own KGB image.

Mr. Putin’s vulgar rhetoric of security and national pride would have worn thin quickly had the price of oil not begun to skyrocket in the new millennium.

A rising cash flow enabled him to negotiate a Faustian bargain with the Russian people: your freedoms in return for stability. Few envisioned how far he would go in collecting on that bargain, but that’s always the trap with empowering authoritarians. Every step Mr. Putin took without consequences encouraged him to take another, and another.

Outside Russia, at every turn, Europe and the U.S. failed to provide the leadership the historic moment required. (Emphasis added by Varldsinbordeskriget)

Even today, members of the Western democratic establishment praise Mr. Putin as a “strong leader”—as he enters his 17th year of total power in an imploding Russia that millions have fled.

To paraphrase Tolstoy, every repressive state is repressive in its own way—but socialism has proved uniquely toxic. The utopian communist idea competed directly with capitalism and lost. Instead of admitting this failure, Soviet leaders squeezed the soul from their citizens by forcing them to perform in the macabre perversion of human nature that is totalitarian socialism.

Instead of believing that happy, successful individuals make for a successful society, socialism insists that a perfectly functioning system will produce happy individuals. When the system comes first, the individual becomes an afterthought. When the system fails, individuals are blamed for not surrendering to it enough.

The architects of the Cold War understood that there could be no lasting peace unless the Soviet Union was contained and opposed at every turn. That lesson has been forgotten, along with so many others.

In the old days, I was also asked regularly why I did not defect instead of spending half my time fighting my nemesis Anatoly Karpov at the chessboard and the other half fighting with the Soviet authorities. My answer was always the same, that I wanted to change my country and improve things for everyone, not just for myself.

Today, I live in exile New York City, driven there not by the Soviets but by a bloodthirsty Putin regime that has no ideology beyond power and money.

…25 years later, the thugs and despots are flourishing once again. They still reject liberal democracy and the free market—not because of a competing ideology like communism, but because they understand that those things are a threat to their power.

[There is] hypocrisy and apathy [among] the most powerful nations in the world. Crimea is annexed, Ukraine is invaded, ISIS is rallying, Aleppo is laid waste, and not a one of us can say that we did not know. We can say only that we did not care.

Globalization has made it easy for the enemies of the free world to spread their influence in ways the Soviet leadership couldn’t have imagined, while the West has lost the will to defend itself and its values.

Mr. Kasparov is the chairman of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation and the author of “Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must be Stopped” (PublicAffairs, 2015).

Comment: Between 2008 and 2014 the West ignored the growing threat from Russia. After the Russian occupation of Crimea and hybrid warfare in eastern Ukraine the response of the West has been timid. The Obama administration has refused to give Ukraine military aid to defend itself. 25 years of neglecting the threat not only of Russia but of two other aggressive totalitarian empires, China and Iran, has left the West vulnerable. No doubt globalization, as Mr. Gasparov points out, has played into the hands of the enemies of the free world. It will now be up to the United States and a coalition of willing European nations to try to correct the mistakes made since 1992.