I posted this on 27 June 2018. I reprint it as a historical curiosity, enabling readers to conclude that I was just as much a fool in 2018 as I am now.
At least three times people have been killed in our towns in circumstances in which it is very easy to suspect some elements somewhere in the Russian machine of awareness or even collusion (the Bulgarian Umbrella; the Polonium Tea; the Novichok). It is difficult not to feel aggrieved about what happened in Salisbury. Even if, in a crude way, the Russians might feel that they have a right to deal with their own people on our streets, they need to understand that when others, including one of our policeman, suffer, we can hardly smile and do nothing. Mutatis mutandis, they jolly well wouldn't.
You're right; there's a BUT coming. After the Fall of Communism, the first thought of many in the West was to move the borders of NATO and the EU right up to the borders of the Russian Federation. There was no recollection that Russia had been invaded by both Napoleon and Hitler, with disastrous cost to the Russian people. Russia, despite the phobias of the Cold War period, has never invaded the West.
In our Meejah and government circles, there appear no signs of proper respect for the Russian people. The best Russia can exspect, apparently, is lectures about 'Human Rights' and the iniquity of locking up the feminists who behaved blasphemously in a Cathedral; and the overwhelming importance of "Gay Rights". (In my view, each day it becomes clearer that Western "Human Rights" are a facade for something diabolically nasty.)
There are arguments that Russian policy in Syria is at least less culpable than the behaviour of those Western powers including my own which aided and abetted the "Arab Spring", that radix malorum. The continuing disorders in Afghanistan remind us that the Taliban are still fighting with the weapons given them by the CIA in order to destabilise a legitimate Russian sphere of influence in that area.
I really do believe that the time has come for a new start, in which there will be recognition that Russia and we do have common interests. And that mutual respect might pay better dividends than disdain and 'sanctions'.
Curiously, I drafted this some time ago, and yesterday morning Nick Houghton said a lot of the same stuff in an interview on the Beeb. Nick used to be Chief of the Defence Staff (what we once called Chief of the Imperial General Staff before our cousins across the water explained to us that we were not allowed to have an Empire any more). Upon retirement he was given a life peerage, because over here we have a ridiculous and almost powerless institution called the House of Lords, which is really simply a very grand national debating chamber. The convention is that retired persons who have been eminent in different walks of life join it after retirement. Thus their experience is retained in the service of the Kingdom. It is a totally lunatic system which works remarkably well.
There are times when I wonder if we would have a more peaceful world if decisions concerning War and Peace were made by admirals and generals rather than by politicians.