Back in 1903 Kipling wrote his poem 'The Peace of Dives'. Despairing of the warlike propensities of mankind, the Lord releases Dives from Hell, to see if he can do any better than 'Saint and Seer and Prophet' in curbing them. And Dives succeeds triumphantly, binding human beings together in webs of interdependence, so that their greeds and fears, instead of impelling them to fight one another, make them avoid doing so, so creating a peace which Satan, try as he may, cannot disrupt.(See http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_dives.htm.) It was, of course, a spectacularly inapt anticipation. But then, in a real sense, it ought to have been true -- as it turned out, practically everyone in Europe had an immense common interest in avoiding the kind of major war which erupted a decade after the poem was written.After the retreat and collapse of Soviet power, there was a great deal of euphoric talk about the 'democratic peace', resting on the highly dubious proposition that democracies are inherently peace-loving. A more reasonable optimism might have been that, at least among major powers, a kind of 'peace of Dives' might take hold.It was always highly unlikely that either Russia or China would become Western-style democracies, in the forseeable future, if at all. But the greeds and fears of the new capitalist elites in those countries do not obviously impel them towards an enthusiasm for military conflict.It would, obviously, not be sensible for American policymakers to assume that such a 'peace of Dives' will take hold. But it would seem sensible to try to steer in that direction.This is not an argument for neglecting prudent defence preparedness -- the old joke applies, that it takes two to make a murder, a murderer and a murderee. But the requirement not to lead others into temptation through weakness needs to be balanced with that of avoiding getting into highly militarised confrontations which may develop a logic of their own. Putting the point another way, if 'deterrence' and indeed 'compellence' are part of a prudent statecraft, so too is 'appeasement'.In this connection, a peculiarly fatuous comment by Daniel Gouré is worthy of note. Arguing that it is 'simply silly' to suggest that 'the world is a relatively peaceful place or will become so in the next several decades', he comments that 'according to recent press reports, NATO has begun once again to plan for the defense of its members against potential Russian aggression.'It does indeed seem that leading American policymakers still want to treat the 2008 Georgian War as a case of 'Russian aggression'. In Tbilisi last month, Hilary Clinton described the Russian military presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia as 'invasion and occupation'.In fact, these areas only became part of Georgia after the Soviet break-up as a result of arbitrary decisions by Stalin, and their inhabitants had no more wish to be part of Georgia than the Kosovo Albanians had to be part of Serbia.It would have been possible for the United States, after the 2004 'rose revolution', to have encouraged the new President, Mikhail Saakashvili, to have attempted to woo the two regions, giving them reasons to believe they would have a better future in Georgia than in association with Russia. Instead, wittingly or unwittingly, they pursued a course which was bound to encourage him in his clearly manifest intention to reincorporate them into Georgia by force.The diplomat most clearly associated with this catastrophic policy -- Matthew Bryza -- is now the Obama Administration's choice for the key ambassadorship in Azerbaijan. His wife, Zeyno Baran, was the author of a notable article in Newsweek in 2007 anticipating a military coup in her native country, Turkey -- seemingly with complacency, if not indeed enthusiasm.