Don't Celebrate Russia Sanctions Too Much
Escalation lacking credibility is an invitation to an attack.
Before I start, take a look at this podcast conversation between Charlie Sykes and Eric Edelman. It’s fantastic. Amb. Eric Edelman: Why Are We Deterring Ourselves?
And here’s my most recent column: We Don’t Know Anything About Nuclear War
Over the weekend, there was an attack against the U.S. consulate in Irbil, Iraq. The next take, Iran took responsibility for the attack—no more plausible deniability. It got me thinking. Maybe sanctions on Russia aren’t the best of ideas—at least unpaired with credibility to engage in a military confrontation?
The year is 1941, and Japan is occupying Indochina and is an ally of a mediocre, retired painter from Austria. As a result, the United States had froze Japan’s assets and imposed an embargo on the export of petroleum to Japan. After diplomatic pleas and ultimata, Japan finally attacked the United States which kept saying that it wanted to stay out of the war. Now, to be fair, President Franklin Roosevelt was trying to prepare the public for entering the war, but the official policy remained one of restraint. Japan didn’t believe that the United States would enter a retaliatory war.
Moving on to contemporary events, Iran has been attacking the United States in direct and indirect ways for almost two decades. And every time the sanctions go up, so do the attacks. Retaliatory attacks by the United States are extremely rare. In other words, every time the Untied States escalates economically, Iran escalates militarily, rarely receiving a response.
In both cases, the United States has escalated without a demonstration of resolve to go to war with Japan and Iran to deter their retaliations. This escalation without credibility has invited attacks. Now let’s move onto the risks of repeating these mistakes with Russia.