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On speed limits, Taiwan's security, and sending more artillery to Ukraine
Good democracies are full of unsatisfying compromises -- measures that represent a middle ground between competing poles. It will always be important for most participants to find themselves incompletely satisfied with the outcomes of good public deliberations, since it's much more stable for overwhelming majorities to end up with 70% of what they want in a durable compromise than for a slim majority to end up steamrolling its opponents in the short run, only to be overturned by an opposing slim majority doing the same thing when the pendulum swings in the opposite direction.
■ But perhaps even more frustrating is when obviously counterproductive measures are adopted. In certain states, for instance, freeways are governed by two-tiered (or even multi-tiered) speed limits. Eight states apply lower speed limits to trucks than to other vehicles. Someone, somewhere, had to advocate for these differential limits in order for them to have been adopted.
■ But differential speed limits compromise highway safety. This is especially the case if limits are inconsistently enforced. To invert the logic of the policy, nobody would advocate that drivers should speed up by 5 mph just before a crash; yet, a differential speed limit of 5 mph (or more) ensures that vehicle collisions involve the same kind of increased risk.
■ Likewise, it is one thing to reach a compromise position on matters of international affairs. But engaging in incomplete or half-baked measures can create an enormous hazard for the world. It is entirely consistent with his country's own self-interest that Ukraine's president has become a vocal and forceful advocate for defending Taiwan. He recognizes that the same kind of might-makes-right mentality that led to the invasion of his homeland is the same kind that, if left incompletely or insufficiently challenged by a global rules-based order, will lead to even more despair in other places.
■ This is no time for the free world to go wobbly on its support of Ukraine. In the words of a Washington Post report, "Ukrainians are still fighting back, but they are running out of ammunition and suffering casualties at a far higher rate than in the initial stages of the war." The risks of escalation are indeed real, and world leaders need to remain attuned to them. But the Kremlin started the war, and nobody should forget that.
■ If anyone thinks that it will be enough to offer only half-hearted support to Ukraine in the hopes that they can just barely hold on, then they are sorely mistaken. Either the free world shows now that it is entirely resolute, or in the words of a former Russian prime minister, "the Baltic states will be next". Just as the roads are more dangerous when two-tiered speed limits prevail, so too does the world become more dangerous when the side of freedom decides it is unwilling to travel at the same velocity as the darker forces that rattle the world.