Francis Fukuyama has a bold prediction for world order: Ukraine will overpower Russia, resulting in the fall of Vladimir Putin.
“Russia is heading for an outright defeat in Ukraine,” the historian wrote in an article for ‘American Purpose,’ the media platform he chairs. “Russian planning was incompetent, based on a flawed assumption that Ukrainians were favorable to Russia and that their military would collapse immediately following an invasion.”
Fukuyama calls a potential Russian defeat “sudden and catastrophic, rather than happening slowly through a war of attrition,” wherein Putin’s army would be neither “supplied nor withdrawn” and lose all morale.
“Putin will not survive the defeat of his army. He gets support because he is perceived to be a strongman,” added Fukuyama. “What does he have to offer once he demonstrates incompetence and is stripped of his coercive power?”
Given the losses each side has sustained, Fukuyama does not see a diplomatic solution to the conflict absent a “defeat of the Russian army on the ground.” Such a victory for Ukraine would “be a good lesson for China” and “make possible a ‘new birth of freedom.'”
“Like Russia, China has built up seemingly high-tech military forces in the past decade, but they have no combat experience,” continued the historian. “The miserable performance of the Russian air force would likely be replicated by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, which similarly has no experience managing complex air operations. We may hope that the Chinese leadership will not delude itself as to its own capabilities the way the Russians did when contemplating a future move against Taiwan.”
In his landmark “End of History and the Last Man” bestseller, Francis Fukuyama famously declared that history as a concept had ended due to the rise of liberal democracy’s free-market monopoly system with no ideological counterweight, an argument he later walked back. The events unfolding between Russia and Ukraine have significance for liberal democracy, and serve as a reference point for how the ideology and its corresponding system have fared in recent years.
“A Russian defeat will make possible a ‘new birth of freedom,’ and get us out of our funk about the declining state of global democracy,” added the historian. “The spirit of 1989 will live on, thanks to a bunch of brave Ukrainians.”