GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON
The West – Australia and Japan included – always view China as an aggressor, expansionist state that represents a major threat to world peace. They link Taiwan, Tibet, the China-India Border, the S China Sea, Hong Kong and the Belt and Road Initiative in an attempt to build an anti-China alliance that – they hope – will contain and restrict China’s emergence as the #1 economic power in the world. As readers will know, this Column takes a quite different view holding that China represents a positive force for world development, peace and prosperity.
A similar situation arises today in relation to Russia and Ukraine. Russia is also an aggressor, the argument goes, and its activities in Eastern Europe are designed to follow in the footsteps of the old USSR. The starting point for today’s issues is the fall of the USSR and the assurances given by US Secretary of State, James Baker, on 9 February 1990 when he told President Gorbachev of the faltering USSR that NATO would move “not one inch eastward. The US Embassy in Bonn declared that NATO should rule out an “expansion of territory towards the East, moving it closer to the Soviet borders”.
On 10 February 1990, Chancellor Kohl of West Germany made a similar promise to Gorbachev stating “We believe that NATO should not expand the sphere of its activity.” Prime Minister Thatcher gave similar assurances. However, since 1997, 14 countries have joined NATO – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia and Bulgaria. The “not one-inch” promise has been disregarded.
Robert Morley, a former staff member of the US National Security Council, wrote to The Economist “Our decision to expand into areas previously dominated by the Soviet Union reinforced the perception that NATO is aggressively pursuing policies detrimental to Russia’s political and security interests”.
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