Why the U.S. adversary is a lot like Al Capone
Carl von Clausewitz observed in his classic On War that “the maximum use of force is by no means incompatible with the simultaneous use of the intellect.” That means, in part, acting thoughtfully but with the utmost effort, understanding that war is more bar fight than chess game. Or, to put it in the simpler words of Jim Malone, Eliot Ness’s counselor in The Untouchables, “You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way! And that’s how you get Capone.”
Al Capone is an apt analogy for what the West confronts in Russia: a particularly noxious mix of Mafia mentality, hypernationalist ideology, and totalitarian technique. Elegance is not the Russian way, and it cannot be our way. This is the light in which one should measure the accomplishments of NATO’s recent gathering in Madrid.