Putin, Crimea, Nato, and Gorbachev – a history lesson?

After the fall of the Berlin wall, Gorbachev and George W. H. Bush had discussions re Germany. It was agreed that the Russians would remove troops from East Germany in return for the promise that NATO would not expand into the once-Warsaw Pact nations.

Some writers dispute that this agreement was in fact made. This one is ambiguous.

Conversely, this page‘s author is pretty sure this agreement was made, and explains much of Vladimir Putin’s recent actions.

Gorbachev himself is quoted on this page, saying

We knew that when we pursued the principle of freedom of choice and non-interference in eastern Europe that we also deprived the West from interfering, from injecting themselves into the processes taking place there.
I read this as, NATO agreed to be kept out.

NATO most certainly did not keep out – some fourteen countries were added to the alliance, bringing NATO to the edges of Russia.

Putin’s take on this is pretty much what one should have expected. On this page you will find these words:

Putin has been behaving lately like a man who has lost faith in diplomacy, who is convinced that the world has realigned itself into a shape fundamentally hostile to Russia.

and these:

Putin has been lashing out on both the political and security fronts, the analysts say, because he despairs of getting European or U.S. officials to consider the post-Cold War strategic realignments from the Kremlin’s point of view.

If that didn’t get your attention, how about these:

And on Wednesday, Putin’s defense minister announced that nuclear-capable long-range bombers would resume patrols off the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts. A proud nationalist committed to protecting Russians who now find themselves in neighboring countries, Putin may have given up on playing by rules written, in his view, by gloating adversaries who consider themselves the Cold War’s victors and Russia’s historic sphere of influence their spoils.

Finally, a quote from a review of Henry Kissinger, author of A World Restored, who defined the concept of a ‘revolutionary power’ as one which does not believe the world system will give it (or him or her) what is wanted. Here is the quote:

Kissinger declared, “It is a mistake to assume that diplomacy can always settle international disputes if there is ‘good faith’ and ‘willingness to come to an agreement'”; in a revolutionary situation “each power will seem to its opponent to lack precisely these qualities.” In such circumstances many will see the early demands of a revolutionary power as “merely tactical” and will delude themselves that the revolutionary power would actually accept the status quo with a few modifications. Meanwhile, “Those who warn against the danger in time are considered alarmists.” “‘Appeasement,'” Kissinger concluded, “is the result of an inability to come to grips with a policy of unlimited objectives.” A few pages later, for good measure, he added,Coalitions against revolutions have usually come about only at the end of a long series of betrayals … for the powers which represent legitimacy … cannot “know” that their antagonist is not amenable to “reason” until he has demonstrated [that he is not]…. And he will not have demonstrated it until the international system is already overturned.

I do not particularly like Henry Kissinger. His book was perhaps his thesis. It is brilliantly written and explains Metternich, Tsar Alexander, Castlereagh, and Napoleon.

My point here is, Vladimir Putin is a revolutionary power. NATO is, to Putin, a revolutionary power. The US is (quoted I think by Noam Chomsky, imho) a revolutionary power.

Unless NATO is rolled back away from Russia, things will stay, er, interesting.

How likely is that? Will we deliberately wait until the escalation into open war occurs?

That’s the dumb question for today.

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