Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
In fact, the whole point of writing diaries is to inform people or start a discussion, not to exclude people unfamiliar with a topic.  IMHO.  It's precisely by reading people's diaries that I learn about subjects I have no background in.  And I've never been aware of anyone needing credentials to make comments or ask questions (or write diaries, frankly.)

A discussion? Then I'll comment on the article by Stephen F. Cohen. I agree completely. After the Cold War, some idealists saw signs Washington and Moscow together would forge a mighty alliance for world peace. That, however, is not the way US superpower mentality works. Kremlin watchers soon realized US leaders were playing with fire as the Americans started letting their post-USSR relations with Russia sour by sending signals in the form of a number of policy decisions that the Russian leadership could not help but interpret as aimed against Russia.

Russians' relations, for example, with their Slavic cousins in Poland have been troubled for centuries, and for Washington to appear to be taking Warsaw's side by building missile installations in Poland, at Russia's western border, was the epitome of incompetence. Then large quantities of oil were poured on the fire by imprudent Polish nationalist leaders, itching to land digs against Russia, who stated that now Russia would think twice before ever attacking Poland where US armed forces would also be stationed.

As if Poland weren't enough, the US government courted the president of Estonia, who immigrated with his Estonian parents to the US as a small child and grew up there among Estonian extremists for whom having to breathe the same air as Russians was an imposition. The US actions occurred against the background of a highly emotional issue for Russians, namely the Second World War, and the monument to dead Soviet soldiers that the Estonian authorities moved out of Tallinn because they said it was a monument to Soviet domination of Estonia. Despite years of training "Sovietologists" during the Cold War, the US elite appear not to have the slightest idea about how Russians tick. If they did, their political course would have reflected their expertise.

The list of US mistakes goes on and on. European leaders, who are said to have some experience in diplomacy, should all along have been making every effort to calm the waters in Eastern Europe, but they too have proved largely incapable, with little influence to help settle disputes between the various countries by peaceable means. Admittedly, the German chancellor did recently convince NATO not to start the admission procedure for Ukraine and Georgia, which would have strained relations with Russia. It's just a matter of time, however, before those countries on Russia's borders join the alliance.

Observers should not be surprised when American incompetence one day blows up in our faces.

by Anthony Williamson on Sat May 17th, 2008 at 11:22:23 AM EST
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