Look out Europe: the Russian bear is coming

There is a psychological theory called projection which I have often thought can be applied to international relations.     Essentially, projection describes a tendency in interpersonal relationships by which individuals project onto others certain characteristics that they fear or hate in themselves.     An obvious example might be a sexually-frustrated fundamentalist preacher say, who persecutes others because he imagines that they are thinking about nothing but sex.   Another example might an unfaithful or potentially unfaithful spouse who imagines that his/her partner is unfaithful.

Freud thought that the main purpose of this mechanism was defensive: by projecting onto others feelings that you find unacceptable or frightening in yourself you are able to externalise them and defend yourself against them, by imagining that it is someone else, not you that feels them.

Applied to relationships between states, this mechanism may serve a similar purpose. If, for example, one state is preparing to launch an aggressive war against another – something that it knows is morally – and more recently – legally unacceptable – then it is far better to imagine that the state you are attacking harbours aggressive or expansionist intentions towards you.     That way your own aggression becomes a ‘defensive’ or ‘preemptive’ reaction that is legitimate and acceptable.

This dynamic has played out many times in history.   Napoleon once justified the invasion of Spain as a response to Spanish ‘treachery’, even though the hapless Spanish could not even begin to compete with the dishonest and manipulative manouevres of the French empire.     Hitler justified the invasion of Poland as a response to ‘Polish aggression’ after a border incident that he himself arranged.     And more recently the United States and Britain invaded Iraq on the grounds of selective and manipulated intelligence that presented Saddam Hussein as a real or potential aggressor who was intent on attacking them

Of course projection in these circumstances isn’t just a question of powerful states trying to legitimize their aggression to themselves.   It also has an explicit propaganda purpose: even the most powerful states like to look good to themselves and to the outside world. Liberal democratic states are particularly prone to projection because they so often take their own virtuousness for granted and because, even more than kings and dictators, they need to make any perceived departure from it appear legitimate in the eyes of their own populations.

But the ultimate outcome of this process is always the same: to present a vision of the world in which your own side is essentially pacific and well-intentioned, while your enemies are intent on conquest and even world domination.   All these tendencies were present in Chatham House’s paper on ‘ The Russian Challenge’ which came out this week.   Produced by The Royal Institute of International Affairs (RUSI), the paper is a classic Russophobic document in the tradition of George Kennan’s ‘Long Telegram’.

The paper caused a big splash in the Independent because of its eye-catching warning that NATO and the European Union face potential collapse unless the West defends its ‘principles’ in the face of Russian aggression.   It also warned that Russia might use ‘tactical nuclear weapons’ in Ukraine and that therefore the West should take steps to demonstrate to Russia that ‘limited war’ was ‘impossible’.

All of this was what you might expect from a mainstream establishment thinktank that tends to tell the British government what it wants to hear.   The report’s authors include Sir Roderic Lyne, former ambassador to Russia, whose post-government jobs include special advisor to BP and JP Morgan Chase, both of which have extensive interests in Iraq – a connection that did not prevent him from becoming a member of the Chilcot Inquiry.

Lyne and his co-authors are broadly in agreement that the West’s failure to respond to ‘ the full implications of Russia’s descent into authoritarian nationalism’ has now brought Europe and Nato to the point when the ‘post-Cold War settlement’ is threatened with disintegration.     As always, this is Russia’s fault.   While the West has been pacific and naively trusting, Putin has smelt weakness, because this is what Putin and Russia are like.

Far be it from me to present Vladimir Putin as a paragon of democracy.     But it is impossible to avoid the reek of hypocrisy and double standards in RUSI’s analysis of Russian behavior and intentions.     First of all, there is the question of ‘aggression.’   Since the end of the Cold War the United States and ‘the West’ has fought many more wars than Russia, often with catastrophic consequences.   In no case were any of these wars ‘defensive’ except in the most elastic and often meaningless sense of the term.

Such recognition is entirely absent from Lyne’s suggestion that Russia ‘lured Georgia into a short, ugly and ill-judged war’ in 2008.   Lyne does not even acknowledge the existence of allegations that it was the Georgian government of Mikhail Saakashvili that lured Russia into war, in the mistaken belief that the West would step in on Georgia’s side.

Any such recognition would detract from Lyne’s depiction of Russia’s determination to be an ‘independent Great power maintaining its geopolitical position on its own terms’ – a desire that supposedly reflects   ‘a deep sense of insecurity and a fear that Russia’s interests would be threatened if it lost control of its neighborhood.’

Regardless of what you think of ‘ Great Power’ statecraft or Russia’s wars and interventions in Chechnya, Georgia and Ukraine, it is worth pointing out that there are few states that don’t regard the states closest to them as their ‘neighborhood’ and which don’t attempt to influence or control them in accordance with their own security interests.   This is what the United States has done for more than a century in its Latin American ‘backyard’, most recently in Panama.   It’s what the European Union did when it attacked Libya.

Do states have the ‘right’ to subordinate their neighbors to their own interests? No, but most powerful states assume this right anyway, and suggesting that such a goal is the result of of some endemic Russian/Soviet pathology is just self-serving drivel, frankly.

Unlike Russia, the US and the West regard the entire world as their ‘neighborhood’ when it comes to military intervention.   American policy documents since the Cold War have made it clear again and again that the US believes that it has the right to wage war or project military power anywhere in the world.   One of the essential goals of post-Cold War US military strategy is to prevent the emergence of any regional rival anywhere.

You will never hear an establishment thinktank on either side of the Atlantic question the ‘right’ of the United States to put troops in Uzbekistan, in the Pacific, or Africa or anywhere else, but when Russia frets at the prospect of Nato missiles in Ukraine then it’s just the result of some strange Slavic insecurity, it seems.

Putin may be an authoritarian jerk, but he is not wrong in denouncing a ‘pernicious’ unipolar world and NATO expansion, nor in his condemnation of the ‘barbarity’ in the Middle East that has   followed from Western political interventions, nor in citing Kosovo as a justification of supporting independence in South Ossetia or Abkhazia, nor in his suggestion that external forces also helped bring about the uprising/coup in Ukraine.   According to Lyne, such suggestions are further evidence of Putin’s ‘deep sense of insecurity’, in which even his language ‘at times verges on the paranoid’ and ‘reveals a defensive mentality.’

Please.     In 2003 the US and British governments invaded Iraq on the basis of weapons that it knew it didn’t have, because bug-eyed zealots like Dick Cheney and Tony Blair believed that the ‘calculus of risk’ had changed to the point when military intervention was justified even if there was a ‘one percent chance’ that certain regimes might have WMD.     And Putin is the one who’s paranoid?

Lyne says that Putin has ‘painted a picture of Russia as a victim and target of Western attack over the centuries’ in order ‘to justify his authoritarian control and aggressive tactics on Russia’s periphery’ as if this past was nothing but fantasy.   Well Russia has been an imperial power, both under the Tsars and the Soviets, but it has also repeatedly been attacked, and these episodes will always influence its approach to security, regardless of whether it’s Putin or someone else who is in power.

Again and again the West has failed to recognize this strategic vulnerability as a driving force in Russian foreign policy, and has preferred to depict Russia as the ancestral enemy, intrinsically aggressive and expansionist and intent onf world domination, and perhaps incapable of behaving ‘rationally’ through some innate ‘oriental’/authoritarian gene which connects the Tsars to Putin.

Thus the paper argues that ‘the prospect of a strategic partnership with Russia, yearned for by many in the West, has become remote in the face of incompatible interests and irreconcilable values’ that include ‘democracy, a law-based state, and personal and political freedom.’

No one would suggest that Putin’s Russia is the embodiment of any of these values,   but Europe and its allies have managed to forge strategic partnership with states that are even further from than Russia, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt – or the fascist-permeated government of Ukraine.     So Chatham House’s antipathy to Russia suggests a problem of geostrategy rather than ‘values’, and I can’t help feeling that what the West really yearns for is a subordinate vassal rather than a strategic partner.

As for the West’s bleating about its disappointment with Russian democracy, well it should have thought about that when it gleefully oversaw the collapse of the Soviet Union into wildcat mafia capitalism.   People don’t tend to like democracy when it’s associated bankruptcy and pauperisation and the Russians are no exception.   If Putin is popular, there might just be a reason – that he is associated, rightly or wrongly, with a small but nevertheless notable Russian national resurgence.

Yet all Chatham House can do is urge the European Union to turn Ukraine into a test case of its resolve, because failure to do so would   ‘deepen instability in Eastern Europe, increase the risk of further Kremlin adventures and diminish the prospects for beneficial change in Russia.’

Yes, ‘benefical change’ in Russia would be good, wouldn’t it?     After all we’ve seen so much of it these last fifteen years.     So maybe Putin knows that just because you’re paranoid it doesn’t mean they’re not trying to get you.   But regardless of whether he does or not, this depressing and one sided analysis is another example of the kind of blinkered, hysterical, looking-through-a-keyhole thinking that is paving the way for a century of permanent war.




It’s raining threats, hallelujah

One of the great things about living in a democratic society is that we don’t have propaganda.   That is something that authoritarian regimes like Russia and Iran do.   They have stations like RT and Press tv which do nothing but mindlessly and uncritically promote the agenda of their respective regimes.

Here in the free world we have news, and real journalists, who speak truth to power, who interrogate their governments and never cease to call their more dubious assertions into question.     You know, like Fox News, which as improbable as it may seem, has just been voted the most trustworthy news outlet in America.   Or the BBC, or CNN or Channel 4 News.

I was reminded how delusional these assumptions are when I watched yesterday’s coverage by Channel 4 News of foreign secretary Philip Hammond’s speech at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on intelligence and security.   Hammond’s speech was essentially an uncritical glorification of the security services and an argument in favour of expanding their powers in the face of a proliferation of state and non-state threats ‘to our safety and security’.

These threats include North Korea, Iran,   Boko Haram, al Qaeda, Islamic State in Syria, Iraq and Libya, the ‘illegal proliferation of military technology, ‘lone wolf’ terrorists, organised crime, challenges in cyberspace, you name it, it threatens us. So thank God we have the security services to ‘keep us safe’ – an expression Hammond used so many times one can imagine his audience repeating it drowsily like a mantra before they go to sleep at night.

On one level Hammond’s dire world of threats is nothing new.   We have, in one form or another, been hearing about the ‘complex threats’ to western security ever since the end of the Cold War, when new phenomena like ‘megaterrorism’ and ‘dirty bombs’ were presented as disturbingly unpredictable and unwanted consequences following the disappearance of the more wholesome and comprehensible Cold War threats of mutual assured destruction.

And now an old threat is back in a new form, because:  ‘The rapid pace with which Russia is seeking to modernise her military forces and weapons, combined with the increasingly aggressive stance of the Russian military, including Russian aircraft around the sovereign airspace of NATO members states, are all significant causes for concern.’

Not only is this a cause for concern, but ‘ Russia”s aggressive behaviour [is] a stark reminder that it has the potential to pose the greatest single threat to our security.’   And all this aggression, even though ‘We worked in a spirit of openness, generosity and partnership, to help Russia take its rightful place, as we saw it, as a major power contributing to global stability and order. We now have to accept that those efforts have been rebuffed.’

There are so much of this ‘good West versus bad world’ narrative that could be called into question.   How many of the threats that Hammond mentioned were due in part to the actions and policies of the West itself, for example in Iraq, Syria, and Libya?   Haven’t Western states also been modernising their military forces in recent years?   Isn’t it true that US military spending is now more than three times higher than China, its nearest competitor?   Is that a good thing or a bad thing?     Is it a good thing that Saudi Arabia is now the fourth highest military spender in the world, thanks to the weapons it brought mostly from Europe and the US, whereas Iran is not even in the top fifteen?

We know it makes some companies and corporations richer to chuck weapons around like this, but does this global diffusion of weaponry really help to ‘keep us safe?’     Did the West   really act towards Russia with a spirit of ‘openness, generosity and partnership’ after the Cold War?     Do Western states bear some responsibility for the ‘destabilising of Ukraine’ that Hammond refers to?

Is it true, as the foreign secretary suggested, that ‘The exposure of the alleged identity of one of the most murderous ISIL terrorists over the last few weeks has seen some seeking to excuse the terrorists and point the finger of blame at the agencies themselves’ and that those who have done this are acting as ‘apologists’ for the terrorists?  Is criticism now synonymous with apologism?

None of these questions were asked or even considered in Channel 4’s report, which focused almost entirely on a single question: whether we are spending enough on our armed forces.     It referred to ‘angry MPs’ who want us to spend more and interviewed   Liam Fox – neocon militarist on the extreme right of the Tory party – who naturally thought that we need to spend more.

This was followed by British military commander Sir Richard Dannatt, and Professor Michael Clarke from RUSI, both of whom expressed their anxiety about the level of defence spending.   The only dissenting voice was Sergei Markov, from the Russian Institute of Political Studies,   who dismissed Hammond’s suggestions and argued that the West had generated many of the threats it was now concerned about.

But this was a Russian speaking, and so Snow dismissed these arguments somewhat condescendingly as mere ‘beliefs’ – a categorisation that was not extended to his previous interviewees, even though their arguments were no less ‘beliefs’ than Markov’s.

Channel 4 News is one of the better news channels, but at no stage in this report did it even inch outside the official narrative and subject any aspect of the British government’s claims to serious scrutiny.   Instead it stuck so rigidly to the government’s talking points that it might as well been the official voice of the foreign office.       But that’s the thing: it isn’t.     Unlike RT or Press TV,     Channel 4 is an independent network without state funding.   It has the opportunity and to really think outside the box and ask ministers some serious questions about what they are doing and why they are doing it.

Yesterday, faced with a series of dubious assertions by a government minister on matters of security, war and peace, it merely nodded obediently and decided not to ask any, and that may not be propaganda, but it certainly isn’t serious journalism.

The Russians are coming!

Fancy a war with Russia, chaps?     After more than two decades in which Western leaders have staggered from one foreign policy train wreck to another with the reckless indifference of stag night drinkers on an epic pub brawl, it now looks as though they are lurching dimly towards exactly that outcome.

Of course it’s not their fault, because nothing ever is.   This is why British defence secretary Michael Fallon has warned that Putin could ‘repeat the tactics used to destabilise Ukraine in Baltic members of the Nato alliance.’

Some might suggest that the EU/NATO’s disastrous decision to draw Ukraine into their sphere of influence also played a part in destabilising Ukraine.   But not   Fallon, who now says that ‘Nato has to be ready for any kind of aggression from Russia, whatever form it takes. Nato is getting ready.’

Good to know.   But the problem is that NATO has been ‘getting ready’ for a long time, and Russia also interprets this readiness as a form of aggression, which is one of the reasons why it has reacted the way it has in Ukraine.     It’s one thing to criticize Russia’s ruthless manipulation of the Ukrainian crisis, but it’s quite another to portray its support for Russian separatists as part of some Hitleresque attempt to reestablish the Soviet Union or the Tsarist Empire.

But this is now what virtually everyone seems to be doing, whether it’s more serious commentators like Timothy Garton Ash or the frothing imbeciles at the Daily Mail, which screeched ‘Britain at the mercy of Putin’s planes,’ today in one of the most cretinous frontpages in the paper’s long and inglorious history.     Supported by photographs illustrating the ‘aggression of the Russian bear’   the Mail described how ‘RAF fighter jets scrambled to intercept two Russian bombers capable of carrying nuclear missiles as they flew menacingly off the coast of Cornwall.’

Off the coast of Cornwall I tell you!   And what were the Ruskies doing?   They were ‘lurking’ with evil intent, perhaps looking to encourage Cornish separatists and annexe a bit of the UK while they’re at it.     And Russian submarines are also ‘lurking’ near Scotland, probably waiting to bring the Yes voters back into the streets so that they can populate the Highlands with little green men.

It’s a damned cheek I tell you.   But even worse it turns out that Britain is ‘defenceless’, according to the   ‘top brass’ and ‘military chiefs’ who the Mail  loves so much.   According to Sir Michael Graydon, former head of the RAF, defence cuts have ‘decimated’ our capabilities to the point when: “I very much doubt whether the UK could sustain a shooting war against Russia. We are at half the capabilities we had previously.They know it is provocative and they are doing it at a time when defence in the west is pretty wet compared to where they are.”

Well the sound of wood and willow echoing from the playing fields of Eton can definitely be heard in that description of our bombers and nuclear missiles and submarines as ‘pretty wet.’

All this would be good for a laugh, if it weren’t so bleakly disturbing.   Because wars sometimes happen because of political calculation, but they also take place because of paranoia, stupidity and pigheadedness, or because heavily-armed states engage in tests of geopolitical strength or fatally misunderstand the motivations of each side, compounding the worst expectations of their opponent to the point when war seems logical and inevitable.

This process appears to be unfolding now.   There is no doubt that Russia has carried out frequent incursions into the air space of its neighbors, even though it didn’t in this case.   But only last month Russia condemned NATO’s decision to deploy its forces in six East European states, declaring that

‘Along with other measures already being undertaken, including a series of ceaseless exercises, continuous rotation of the US and its allies” forces, reinforcement of naval and air groups in the Baltic States and in the Black Sea, creation of missile defense sites and strongholds of the alliance for various purposes – all this will substantially weaken the military stability and security in the region.’

In the eyes of the West and its supporters, such arguments are only lies and excuses, because when it comes to Russia – and pretty much everyone else for that matter –   ‘aggression’ is only ever on one side.

The dangers of this dynamic cannot be overstated.     In the early years of the Cold War the cooperation between the World War II coalition broke down in part, because Western leaders were unable or unwilling to understand why the Soviet Union was so determined to surround itself with a security ‘buffer zone’ of the states that it liberated/conquered.

Russian security objectives certainly had an imperialist dimension, particularly when pursued by a leader like Stalin, but there is an abundance of evidence to show that global military conquest – or even the domination of Western Europe was not their intention.   Has the West recognized this, it might have responded differently.

Western leaders are rapidly slipping into a similar misreading of Russia’s intentions.   To point this out does not mean that Russia is the ‘good guy’ in this confrontation.   There is no doubt that Russia has supported separatists in the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine militarily, even if the degree of control that Putin has over events in Ukraine is sometimes overstated.

But it is also clear that   the US/EU/NATO were incredibly stupid, naive and shortsighted in thinking that Russia would not oppose their attempts to bring Ukraine into the Western sphere of interest – politically, economically and militarily, let alone that it would accept a government in Ukraine that almost immediately alienated its Russian-speaking minorities.

Even Henry Kissinger recognizes this, for god’s sake, and has pointed out how the EU’s ‘bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine”s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis.

In this situation we don’t have to choose between Moscow and Washington/Brussels, and nor should Ukraine be forced to make this choice.   But to achieve a better outcome   we do need cool heads.   We need a critical media, and politicians and commentators willing to question the hysterical Russophobia that was on display today, and hold the self-serving delusions behind it up to scrutiny.

And we must not, we cannot, allow our leaders to take us into a war that would make all the disasters and conflicts of the last two decades look like minor quarrels by comparison.





Timothy Garton Ash’s Awfully Big War

There are some liberals who give liberals a bad name and Timothy Garton Ash is one of them.     They build up their careers posing as thoughtful and nuanced independent commentators, arguing that ‘facts are subversive’, yet when push comes to shove they sing loudly from the imperial hymn sheet and call on the US to fulfill its great mission to ‘reshape the world.’

Last October Ash was criticizing Obama’s foreign policy for being too weak, and pondering whether Hilary Clinton would have been a better choice for president, because she wouldn’t have presented Assad with a ‘red line’ and then not bombed him when he supposedly crossed it.     He blamed Obama for not supporting ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria, and therefore causing the rise of ISIS, even though many of these ‘moderates’ had already gone over to ISIS regardless of what Obama did or didn’t do.

So at that point Ash was a Clintonite interventionist, even though he thought that Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia’ was a good idea.     Why is it a good idea for the US to start pouring ships and soldiers into the Pacific?   Would it also be a ‘good idea’ for China or Russia to do the same thing and ‘pivot’ toward the Black Sea, Africa or the Pacific?

Ash doesn’t ask these kinds of questions.   He knows manifest destiny when he sees it, and he knows who to call when you want your interventionism done.

Yesterday he demonstrated these gifts with a truly fanatical piece in which he compared Putin to Slobodan Milosovic, claiming that the former was ‘as bad, but bigger’ in his attempt to ‘carve out a puppet para-state’ in eastern Ukraine.     Rousing himself to a pitch of humanitarian anguish Ash warned that Europe was ‘letting another Bosnia happen in its own front yard’ and should do something about it.

What should it do?   Ratchet up sanctions against Russia, get the BBC to counter ‘Russian propaganda’ and above all arm Ukraine, because tough guy Ash knows that there are times in history when ‘ sometimes it takes guns to stop the guns.’   Fortunately for him, cometh the hour, cometh the man, in the shape of John McCain, a man who has never seen a US rival that he didn’t want to bomb.

But never mind that,   because in Ash-land everything that has happened in east Ukraine is entirely the result of a Russian power grab, nothing to do actions taken by NATO, Europe, the Ukraine government, or the rebels themselves, whose relationship with Russia is not nearly the seamless master/servant puppet relationship that he and his fellow interventionists make it out to be.

As always with liberals of this type,   Ash is only advocating this course of action because he really, really wants to stop innocent civilians being killed, and he takes it for granted that all of them are being killed by Russia.     Of course he wants a diplomatic solution, but hard-headed realist that he is, he recognizes that first we need to fight to the last Ukrainian in order to ‘stop the mayhem’ and bring that solution closer, because:

‘To do this Ukraine needs modern defensive weapons to counter Russia”s modern offensive ones. Spurred on by John McCain, the US Congress has passed a Ukraine Freedom Support Act which allocates funds for the supply of military equipment to Ukraine. It is now up to President Obama to determine the timing and composition of those supplies.’

Like so many liberals who have walked this path before him, Ash expects the US to do the job, because ‘ The US has the best kit, it is probably in the best position to control its use, and is less vulnerable to bilateral economic or energy-supply pressures.’

Ash’s recommendations have coincided nicely with the revelation that the US is in fact ‘mulling’ over whether to send ‘defensive’ weapons to Ukraine, and a report by senior Pentagon officials has said that such assistance is necessary ‘to bolster deterrence in Ukraine by raising the risks and costs to Russia of any renewed major offensive.’

This is the company that the great humanitarian is keeping.     If Ash seriously believes that pouring more weapons into Ukraine will help the Ukrainians achieve strategic parity, let alone ‘stop the mayhem’ he is definitely living on another planet, unlike his hero McCain, who has no particular concern how many people die in Ukraine as long as he gets the big war that he didn’t get in Syria.

Let’s consider a few reasons why Garton Ash’s proposals are a bad idea:

a) The Ukraine war has no military solution.   Russia knows that, which is one reason why it hasn’t swatted away the Ukrainian armed forces already.   It it did that, it would become an occupying power and would be bled white.     Nor is it even clear that Putin wants to annexe eastern Ukraine, despite all the Sudetenland comparisons that have been flying around.     It is not even clear whether the Russian-speaking population is universally in favour of union with Russia, even though they might be if the war goes on and the Nazis of the Azov Battalion continue to run amok.

b) This is a conflict that requires conflict resolution, cooperation and compromises.     It must be resolved politically and that demands action by ALL the protagonists; Russia, the separatists, the Ukraine government, the EU, the US, NATO and the separatists, because all of them in different ways are responsible for the unfolding disaster.

c) That solution may involve separation, unless the Ukraine government can give the Russian-speaking inhabitants of east Ukraine a very good reason to remain part of their country – which doesn’t mean force.   If that happens then the ‘international community’ will have to accept it, just as they accepted the secession of Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, and ultimately Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia – or is secession only to be supported when it’s politically convenient?

d) No Russian leader will accept another NATO-dominated state on its borders.   It doesn’t matter whether they are Putin or somebody else.     A country that has been as mauled as Russia has been in two world wars is not going to allow this to happen without doing everything it can to stop it.

e) It’s no good NATO simply insisting, as its Deputy General Secretary Alexander Vershbow did once again in Oslo today, that it doesn’t represent a security threat to Russia.   When the US allows Russia to carry out military maneuvers in Canada and perhaps install nuclear weapons there, then maybe those reassurances might have some credibility.     Until then, not.   And as for Vershbow’s accusation that Russia has ‘torn up the international rule book’, well NATO simply has no platform to deliver homilies on that score.

f)   Garton Ash’s proposals will not reduce the bloodshed – they will intensify and increase it, and that means increasing the suffering of the civilian population of east Ukraine and probably further afield as well.

g) Escalation is likely to induce Putin to raise the stakes too.     It is likely to build up a really dangerous and uncontrollable dynamic that may well lead not just to a new Cold War, but a hot war with Russia.

That would be total madness, but it’s the game that Garton Ash, McCain & co want the world to play, and we need to ignore their nonsense about   appeasement and say very loudly to our government that we won’t play it.