By Fernando Fernández / Staff Writer
After months of endless speculation, Russian President Vladimir Putin has finally done it. He has launched his long-awaited invasion of Ukraine and, in the process, changed everything.
Gone are the days when the global liberal democratic world order was unquestioned.
This latest incursion by Vladimir Putin’s Russia represents not only a direct challenge to it but the latest in a long line of disturbing and brazen illiberal actions that global superpowers have taken nowadays.
If one didn’t see it before, then this should certainly be more than enough evidence that such tendencies are on the rise across the globe.
The rise of these authoritarian and illiberal tendencies directly reflects our civic condition at home. That is something that even we, as university students, should be concerned about.
For the longest time, the United States has operated as the leader of the free world and as the most shining example of liberalism and democracy in the globe. But, lately, our actions have said otherwise.
Since the early 2000s, the United States flagrantly violated international law with numerous illiberal actions in the international arena that even some key U.N. figures have called out. The US openly embraced mire authoritarianism right here at home, too.
The country is still selling weapons to Saudi Arabia to conduct what the U.N. has described as war crimes in Yemen. Just over a year ago, there was an open and violent insurrection at our nation’s capital to overturn the democratic results of the last presidential election.
We can’t expect the rest of the world to behave according to our liberal values if we don’t uphold them right here at home.
We can’t expect aggressive actors like Russia to respect international law by not launching these destructive wars when we have practically done the same thing for the past two decades. We can’t. We can’t ignore the Ukrainian invasion because the more blatant violations of international law become common in the global arena, the more it becomes clear that we are setting the wrong example. It’s representative of not only a crisis occurring on a whole other continent but one in our backyard.
This is why it’s our responsibility as the next generation of leaders to keep ourselves informed, pay attention to our nation’s actions and participate in our democratic institutions and vote. We must not only hold our leaders accountable and ensure that they follow international law, but so our standards are not only verbal posturing. While the conflict may be taking place 5,000 miles from here, there are all small things we can do.
In short, time is of the essence. In a rapidly changing global arena, it is up to us to show that liberal democracy can indeed still be viable in the face of these newfound challenges. World leaders created international law to prevent catastrophes like this from happening.
Ultimately, the solution is not to push for the crisis to bring on World War Three but to do our part in ensuring that we are setting the example to other powerful nations. They way, they aren’t inclined to take such aggressive action, like invading another country, and know such measures are unacceptable.
That is the importance of this moment and why, aside from all of the other moral and humanitarian reasons, Panthers should genuinely care about Ukraine.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community