Vladimir Putin is said to be challenging the world order, and he seems to be proud to do so. But Russia is hardly the only country dissatisfied with the world order. Take the U.S., supposedly the global hegemon. For more than 60 years, America has had to put up with an ideological enemy just over the water in Cuba. The U.S. is unable to force its own companies to return production to its shores from developing countries. Now it faces humiliation daily. Americans wake up every morning to news of Russian airstrikes against a country they and their allies support. U.S. leaders know from experience that forceful intervention can make things even worse.
In his fight to change the world order, Mr. Putin wasn’t afraid to destroy the existing one. Russia has staked everything on its size and might, banking on the prospect that attempts to exclude it from the world order will lead to that order’s collapse—or at least that the economic costs will force the West to adapt to Russian needs.