Russia is trying to destroy it. The West is trying to protect it.
And in her last public speech as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power this week made an impassioned defense of it.
But the conventional wisdom everywhere is that it is on its last legs.
It, of course, is something called the post-Cold War liberal international order.
But what do we really mean by this abstract and academic-sounding concept? And why is it worth defending?
For me, it can be boiled down to a very simple and very important principle: Small countries have the same rights as great powers.
The sovereignty of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Moldova, or Ukraine is no less sacrosanct than that of Russia, France, Germany, or the United States.
I believe this is a principle well worth defending.
But in the Kremlin, of course, there's a different view.
Moscow wants to return to the age of empire where small nations are subservient to great powers.
The Kremlin wants a world where the sovereignties of the Georgias, Ukraines, and Estonias of the world are conditional and limited.
The former vision provided Europe with peace, prosperity, and stability. The latter gave us two world wars.
But for the past decade, Russia has skillfully and patiently pecked away at the liberal world order.
And now, as military analyst Michael Kofman recently wrote, "nineteenth-century geopolitics is back, and it's angry."
If this is truly the case, life is about to get pretty rough for small countries, especially if they are unfortunate enough to border Russia.
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