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People are always making parallels between the current Ukraine war and past events. But I think that the most important parallel by far—the analogy that’s actually influencing policymakers in Washington—is the one with the Soviet–Afghan War. Hillary Clinton is surely in the loop unofficially—she says in a 28 February 2022 MSNBC interview that Afghanistan “is the model that people are now looking toward”. But it’s disturbing that she’d draw the Afghanistan–Ukraine parallel, since Washington provoked the 1979 invasion and then—after the provocation—sought to keep the Soviets in Afghanistan.

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It's a case of putative should. Considering that Hillary said that in a recent interview, the simple infinitive works. If the statement had been said further back, the perfect infinitive should have been used.

In an article called "Understanding Putative Should: A Semantic Approach" published here by Chuncan Feng, a long-established member of GE, he proposes that this "should" be called "emotive." These are some of the examples he gives:

(14) A: It is strange that John should have left without saying goodbye. B: Well, he does sometimes act quite unsociably when he is in one of his moods.
(15) ‘It is a pity that you should go back to work so soon,’ he said half to himself. ‘You are only just better; and it is easy to lose what one has gained.’ (Harraden, 1893)
(16) ‘In that case,’ she went on, ‘it is a pity that you should leave New York. However, I shall be delighted to have you with us. I understand, the difficulty is in closing.’ (Grove, 1927)
(17) A: I'm surprised that Jack should have felt lonely when he was in California. B: Well, he wasn't really lonely. He was only a bit nostalgic.

I don't think "would" works in this sentence, but the present indicative would be fine:

? It’s disturbing that she would draw the Afghanistan–Ukraine parallel.
- It’s disturbing that she draws the Afghanistan–Ukraine parallel.

Hi, Andrew and Gustavo—To me, there is a difference in meaning between "would" and "should" in this context. Let me take an analogous case:

(1) It is disturbing that China would use balloon surveillance in the U.S.
(2) It is disturbing that China should use balloon surveillance in the U.S.

In my opinion, (1) is about a disturbing potentiality on the part of China. Would China dare to use balloon surveillance in the U.S.? Yes. In fact, it just did.

Sentence (2) is about a disturbing fact, regardless of China's behavioral potentialities. That they used balloon surveillance in the U.S. is disturbing.

But if someone cheats on their spouse, the spouse who was cheated on might say "I can't believe my spouse would do that to me!". This statement makes sense even though the cheating actually did take place, correct?

Good counterexample, Andrew.

I think the correct use of "would" in your sentence is related to "I can't believe." My impression is that "I can't believe (now)" does not only express a present feeling but a change from a past belief ("Before now, I never thought this could happen to me.") That being the case, the cheating is viewed as a future event from a past perspective, which accounts for the use of "would" ("could" could also be used there).

Now, with this phrase containing an emotional adjective where the past-present change is not evident, "should" seems to work better (in my opinion) if it is a fact that the cheating has occurred:

- It's unbelievable that my spouse should do that to me.

Last edited by Gustavo, Co-Moderator

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