“Second, horizontal escalation suffers from a time problem. Coercion — particularly economic coercion — takes a while to work. But in the meantime, analysts such as former Trump administration Pentagon official Elbridge Colby have pointed out that the aggressor will be consolidating its gains and fortifying a position from which it cannot easily be dislodged. While the U.S. is waiting for coercion to have its effect, the situation on the ground — and at the negotiating table — will be steadily eroding. Meanwhile, America’s front-line allies such as the Baltic states will be left to absorb punishment or even occupation by Russian and Chinese forces — a possibility that will make them less likely to antagonize Moscow and Beijing by standing with the U.S….”

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