Professor Geoffrey Roberts points out in the Financial Times that Martin Wolf omits a third in his recent analysis that the western position is based on two simple principles:
- first, a country is entitled to make its own choices;
- second, borders may not be changed by force” (“Russia is our most dangerous neighbour”, Comment, September 17).
Roberts adds the missing (and critical) qualification: “as long as it suits the west”, continuing:
“Without this proviso it is impossible to comprehend the practice of western foreign policy as opposed to its rhetoric and propaganda.
“In 1962 the US brought the world to the brink of nuclear war because it did not approve of the Cuban government’s decision to invite the Soviet Union to place missiles on its territory.
“Today Iran faces isolation and sanctions to thwart its ambitions to become a nuclear power like the west’s allies, Israel, Pakistan and India.
“In Libya and Syria western states have intervened and interfered with woeful results. Borders are sacrosanct, but not those of the former Yugoslavia or Serbia, which has been dismembered by the western-sponsored secession of Kosovo.
“Yet when Russia acts to protect what it sees as its interests and security in Ukraine, Mr Wolf deems it a menace and the greatest challenge facing the US. He even trots out Vladimir Putin’s statement that the Soviet Union’s collapse was a major geopolitical disaster, without quoting the Russian president’s rider that anyone who thinks the Soviet Union can be recreated needs their head examined.
“Is it any wonder that Russia views the west’s moral posturing in international politics as not just hypocritical and self-serving but dangerous?”
London-born Geoffrey Roberts is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and currently professor of modern history at University College Cork & head of the School of History at UCC. His academic awards include a Fulbright Scholarship to Harvard University & a Government of Ireland Senior Research Fellowship. He is a regular commentator on history and current affairs for British & Irish newspapers, contributing to the History News Service, which syndicates articles to American media outlets. He has made many radio and TV appearances, acting as an historical consultant for documentary series such as Simon Berthon’s Warlords, broadcast in 2005. He specializes in Soviet diplomatic and military history of the Second World War.