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The Engagement Trap

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The Engagement Trap – Oren Kessler
(dailyalert.org, Jun. 2, 2014)

While campaigning for president in 2008, Barack Obama insisted that the U.S. must “talk to its enemies.” In Dancing with the Devil, Michael Rubin, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official, makes the opposite case: that engaging with rogue regimes often exacts heavier costs than not and, worse, can make war with them more likely.

Engaging with rogues, the author argues, squanders precious time, momentum and leverage. It rewards bad behavior – states that play by the rules never get the same attention – and confers legitimacy on illegitimate actors. And once begun, engagement is seldom dialed back: Western negotiators are generally loath to walk away, lest they be seen as having failed.

The writer is a Middle East research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. (Wall Street Journal)


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  • Published: 7 years ago on June 2, 2014
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