“Ukraine stands alone,” lamented President Volodymyr Zelensky last Thursday, cognizant that not even the most forceful Western sanctions would prevent his nation from being pummeled, if not conquered by Russia in the short-term.
The prevailing assumption is that most aggressors will behave pragmatically when up against a wall. But this assumption has long resulted in diplomatic efforts being pursued far beyond the point of no return, and thus missing the opportunity to take other (read: military) action that could have prevented greater tragedy.
The lead-in to World War II is the canonical example of relying too much for too long on diplomacy and toothless threats. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was so certain if he could just sit down one more time with Hitler, war could be averted. After all, the Germans were a reasonable, pragmatic people. Surely the Nazis wouldn’t risk everything on a war they weren’t likely to ultimately win, and for which their country would pay a hefty price.
The same thinking underlies the Western approach to the Iran nuclear crisis,...
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