From Serious Tactical Error to Downright Insanity

The following two paragraphs are quoted from a New York Times tribute to George F. Kennan on March 18, 2005. Kennan, who died at 101 in 2005, was a major architect of the Cold War. He was no friend of Russia and was hard-nosed about waging political warfare with the USSR, but had a healthy respect for the importance of avoiding unnecessary, stupid conflict with that powerful political adversary.

“In February 1997, Mr. Kennan wrote on The New York Times’s Op-Ed page that the Clinton administration’s decision to back an enlargement of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to bring it to the borders of Russia was a terrible mistake. He wrote that

expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-cold war era.

Such a decision may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking,” he wrote. His views, shared by a broad range of policy experts, did not prevail.”

That was waaayyy back in 1997. What we see now is the U.S. and the E.U. playing serious “chicken” games with/against each other and Vladimir Putin in a dangerously destabilizing game of craps for the Ukraine. Forcing a bear into a corner is never a smart move.