Former Soviet premier, Michael Gorbachev, has had the past quarter century to live with the legacy of betrayal. Now he's returned to Berlin's Brandenburg Gate to warn that we're on the verge of a new Cold War, one of the West's making.
“Instead of building new mechanisms and institutions of European security and pursuing a major demilitarisation of European politics … the west, and particularly the United States, declared victory in the cold war,” said the man behind the Soviet Union’s glasnost and perestroika reforms.
“Euphoria and triumphalism went to the heads of western leaders. Taking advantage of Russia’s weakening and the lack of a counterweight, they claimed monopoly leadership and domination in the world.”
The enlargement of Nato, Kosovo, missile defence plans and wars in the Middle East had led to a “collapse of trust”, said Gorbachev, now 83. “To put it metaphorically, a blister has now turned into a bloody, festering wound.”
Previously an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin, Gorbachev backed the current Russian president’s stance over Ukraine, urging western leaders to “consider carefully” Putin’s recent remarks at the Valdai forum : “Despite the harshness of his criticism of the west, and of the United States in particular, I see in his speech a desire to find a way to lower tensions and ultimately to build a new basis for partnership.”
As Remembrance Day approaches it's astonishing how few people seem to recall the dark days of the Cold War, the subterfuge, the proxy wars that claimed so many lives, an awareness that even a technical failure could trigger nuclear Armageddon.
That has no currency to Stephen Harper or the other two stooges of Parliament Hill. They've got historical amnesia.
Well I sure remember. I served in it at a time when tensions were high, well before Glasnost and Perestroika. I have never forgotten that the reason I'm writing this and you're able to read it is not thanks to cool heads alone. A lot of luck was also involved.
Why are we so intent on returning to those days? Have we gone mad? Do we really believe that it's going to make the future better for Ukraine or Georgia? Of all the things we can fight and, en masse, die over should it really be the Ukraine? Not as far as I'm concerned.
What will it tell Moscow when we show up on Russia's doorstep not with relatively non-threatening CF-18s but with truly offensive weapons like the nuclear-capable, "first strike", stealth attack bomber, the F-35?