The Dangers of Self-Delusion

How can we make sense of the seemingly never-ending spectacle that is the North Korean nuclear crisis? Let me suggest an answer: we're watching "conference diplomacy" all over again—that is to say, the approach to conflict resolution embraced by the great powers of Europe in the 1920s and '30s. The premise underlying this peculiar mode of "diplomatic engagement" was that international disputes were really just disagreements among reasonable gentlemen. If only these men could gather to talk things out, the wishful thinking ran, a peaceful settlement agreeable to all could surely be reached. Each new round of talks was hailed as...

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