The famous Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu once wrote that you should always make it appear that an avenue of retreat is open to an encircled enemy to prevent them from fighting to the death with the courage of despair.  The Biden administration and western European leadership need to give Putin a dignified off-ramp, or it could get uglier in Ukraine, and nobody wants what could happen.

As a thought experiment, imagine that the West paints Russia’s leader into a corner, and he says, “To Hell with it, and detonates a nuke on Ukrainian soil.”

What would America and Europe do? The EU is already looking for Biden to lead, and we haven’t seen much other than an attempt at economic warfare that affects citizens of Russia but has done very little to slow down Putin.  President Biden’s foreign policy in the run-up to the invasion was to not do anything to upset Putin further and make non-specific threats of sanctions that Russia did not take seriously, precisely because they were left to the imagination.

The off-ramp, or lack of one, is the elephant in the room that nobody is talking about.