Wednesday, January 01, 2020

The Road not Taken

The National Archives released the Prime Minister's papers from a quarter of a century ago yesterday - see

I think they can be downloaded, but you have to set up an account etc. and I don't have time today, but according to the Torygraph: Malcolm Rifkind wanted to bring Russia in from the cold and make them a member of Nato.

If you want my opinion, NATO should have been disbanded after the Warsaw Pact dissolved itself in 1991, but Rifkind's ideas was a worthy second best.
“The most difficult problem we face is how to integrate Russia into the European and Western family of nations in a realistic and sensitive manner,” the files says.
Noting how Boris Yeltsin, the Russian president, appeared “visibly weakened,” it says the country’s democrats were “on the defensive,” with reformers “antagonistic to NATO enlargement” and eager to exert the country’s might over breakaway nations tempted to join the West.
Mr Rifkind warned that Russia should not become a full NATO member because it would have “the absurd consequence of requiring the West to come to [Russia’s] help in any future frontier conflicts, for example with China” and potentially give Moscow a veto over NATO deploying its military might.
“A possible solution would be to create a new category of Associate Member of NATO. It would, however, give Russia a formal status within NATO, allow it to attend, as of right, Ministerial and other meetings and encourage a gradual convergence and  harmonisation of policy, doctrine and practice.”
Such partial membership would help NATO enlargement, paving the way for former Soviet countries to forge links with the alliance “without rancour and retaliation” from Russia, the document says.
This sound analysis and imaginative suggestion was dismissed as "farcical" by ministers at a Chequers seminar.

Instead our foreign policy concentrated on introducing crony capitalism so as to turn the bulk of the Russian people into paupers, while dealing out their birthright assets to wideboy oligarchs at knock-off prices hence all-but ensuring the emergence of today's revanchist regime.

Malcolm Rifkind joins Norman Tebbit on my list of Conservatives with the wit, at least, to understand how relations with post Communist Russia have been bungled.

No comments: