Simon Jenkins has written a rather rambling article in The Times in which he warns that the western leaders, in their dealings with Russia, are in danger of stumbling into a world war. Personally, I don’t find it a persuasive argument, especially as he seems unable to make up his mind on one of the key points:
There is no strategic justification for siting American missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. It is nothing but right-wing provocation. Nato’s welcome to Georgia and Ukraine, for no good reason but at risk of having to come to their aid, has served only to incite Georgia to realise that risk while also infuriating Moscow.
Western strategy is dealing with a resurgent, rich and potent Russia. It has played fast and loose with Moscow’s age-old sensitivity and forgotten the message of George Kennan, the American statesman: that Russia must be understood and contained rather than confronted.
So which is it?
If Russia “must” be contained then American missile defence systems in Poland and the Czech Republic and Nato membership of Georgia and Ukraine would indicate that Kennan’s message has not been forgotten. On the other hand, if the missile defence system is intended to intercept Iranian missiles, then they do not represent “right-wing provocation” of Russia. He can’t have it both ways.
And as an aside, is there any justification for Russia’s “age-old sensitivity”? I understand that they suffered invasions from the Mongols, Napolean, and Hitler but they are far from unique in that respect.