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The Heady Call of Triumphal Maximalism

KYIV, UKRAINE - MARCH 15: A view of destruction after Russian attacks in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 15, 2022. Several locations including residential building hit by Russian attacks this morning in Kviv. (Photo by Andre ... KYIV, UKRAINE - MARCH 15: A view of destruction after Russian attacks in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 15, 2022. Several locations including residential building hit by Russian attacks this morning in Kviv. (Photo by Andre Luis Alves/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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March 23, 2022 10:30 a.m.

Eliot Cohen is a commentator on military affairs who’s been a fixture of Washington’s conversations for decades. He’s generally been in line with the policy hands identified as “neocons” but his writing has never been entirely in line with theirs. It’s at least a bit more independent, a bit less infected with their antic zeal. Earlier this month Cohen wrote a short article for The Atlantic titled “The Strategy That Can Defeat Putin.” It’s essentially a neo-Cold War manifesto which calls for a military crusade against the kind of revanchist authoritarianism which Vladimir Putin’s Russia both embodies and leads. Cohen writes that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine “is a threat, too, to the integrity and self-confidence of the world’s liberal democracies, battered as they have been by internal disputes and backsliding abroad.” He argues that the goal of U.S./EU/NATO policy must be not only to defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine but “to leave Russia profoundly weakened and militarily crippled, incapable of renewing such an onslaught, isolated and internally divided until the point that an aging autocrat falls from power. Targeting Putin alone is not enough.”

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