How US built the West - and why we shouldn't let it crumble

In the wake of a Group of Seven summit that saw the United States stiff-arm its allies and call for an embrace of Mr Vladimir Putin's Russia, it is fair to say that the idea of a unified front of internationalist democracies is, if not dead, at least in deep hibernation. It was the latest sign that the West, at least as we know it today, is faltering, 70 years after it was born in Berlin.

Seventy years ago this month, a crisis in the centre of Europe brought the US and Russia face to face as adversaries for the first time. There was no clear sense how an America still finding its footing after World War II would respond. But there in Berlin, America chose a path of international leadership backed by armed strength and a humanitarian purpose. This choice bound the US to Western Europe and brought together an economic and military alliance that has shaped much of the past century of world history. And it showed how central America's moral leadership was to the vitality and stability of the Western alliance.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2018, with the headline 'How US built the West - and why we shouldn't let it crumble'. Subscribe