Samantha Power: A Question of Honor

Russia's assault on Georgia was wrong — but predictable. How humiliation can shape national interest

Illustration by Alex Nabaum for TIME

When Russia sent shells raining down on Georgia, it seemed initially as if Vladimir Putin was savagely pursuing what he saw as Russian national interests. Moscow claimed Georgian aggression against Russian loyalists in South Ossetia and has objected to both Georgia's bid to join NATO and the Pentagon's arming and training of the Georgian military. But a closer examination of the run-up to Putin's inexcusable invasion suggests that Russia's action had as much to do with its wounded pride as with its alleged impaired security.

Thucydides long ago concluded that people...

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