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This Is What Escalation Looks Like

By Michael Auslin (original source The Wall Street Journal)

“Vladimir Putin’s air forces are deliberately targeting U.S.-backed Syrian rebels. China is building islands in disputed waters in the South China Sea and militarizing them with with airfields, ports and aircraft and radar sites. This is what escalation looks like. Either the Obama administration responds to the danger of aggressive powers and undermining or directly attacking U.S. interests, or it will risk the erosion of America’s position abroad and invite conflict with Moscow and Beijing.

Escalation takes many forms. In the 1930s, Hitler nibbled and carved away parts of Central Europe for several years before invading Poland. The Japanese invaded Manchuria in 1931 and China proper in 1937 before deciding on a coordinated attack on Southeast Asia and Pearl Harbor. During the 1990s, al Qaeda escalated from bombing U.S. naval vessels and embassies to preparing for 9/11. What these cases have in common is that the great powers failed to deter the aggressors, emboldening them to ever larger actions.”

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