Mary Sarotte’s regret on the collapse of ‘the post-cold-war order’, in The Financial Times!

Old Socialist comments on her melodrama, as political temperature taking!

There is nothing quite like The Financial Times placing an essay about the end of ‘the post-cold-war order’ in the ‘Life And Arts’ section of this newspaper! And that this ‘essay’ began as a book ‘Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate’, from which parts of this essay have been adapted .’ So this 2, 781 word ‘essay’ is an exercise of a cobbled together ‘journalism made to measure’?

Headline: Russia, Ukraine and the 30-year quest for a post-Soviet order

Sub-headline: Historian Mary Elise Sarotte tells the inside story of the west’s efforts to secure a post-cold-war settlement — and how Putin seized on missteps and Russian grievances to destroy it

The Sarotte Melodrama opens:

Why has the post-cold-war order broken apart in a violent fight over Ukraine? It is now beyond question that that order has crumbled, and that Europe will once again, as in 1989, bear a line of division between Moscow-centric and Washington-centric blocs.

It is also beyond question that the source of this tragedy is Vladimir Putin’s insistence on eliminating Ukraine’s independence — because that independence, representing Ukraine’s intolerable freedom (in the Russian president’s eyes) to choose between Russia and the west, is the ultimate reason why violence has come.

As someone who witnessed the dissolution of the old cold-war dividing line while studying abroad in West Berlin in 1989, it is hard to fathom that a latter-day version of it will now return, only further to the east, and with the Baltic states playing the role of West Berlin. I certainly did not expect to see the return of this division in my lifetime.

She sets the stage for the appearance of Vladimir Putin, as she speculates on her proximity, to this political actor in 1989. This has all the faded power, of the black and white world of television spy dramas, of the early Cold War. That were syndicated to independent TV stations in America.

Nor did I have any way of knowing that the person who would recreate it was, back in 1989, not that far away from me in my student flat in divided Berlin, namely a younger Putin as a KGB officer in the East German city of Dresden. Decades later, as president of Russia, Putin became unwilling to tolerate Ukraine’s sovereignty because of that country’s special role in what he views as the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century: the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Here is the central thesis ?

But there is another, lesser-used way to uncover why Ukraine has mattered so much — focusing not on Ukraine itself, but on the way that dispute between the US and Russia over its post-Soviet fate exacerbated tensions between Moscow and Kyiv, leading to today’s conflict. To understand how this fateful conflict evolved, it is necessary to go back to the 1990s. It is apparent from evidence that I, now a history professor, have had declassified (along with other archive materials) that western leaders knew that creating a berth for the newly independent Ukraine was the key to enduring European peace. Yet they could not devise a policy to accomplish that goal. 

Thus begins Sarotte’s version of ‘History Made To Measure’, or at least the Financial Times adaptation? That is the vexing question, that will remain unanswered?

But The Reader has another source not only on Ukraine, but of the NATO question that is central to the Russian/Putin concern:

Headline: NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev Heard

Sub-headline: Declassified documents show security assurances against NATO expansion to Soviet leaders from Baker, Bush, Genscher, Kohl, Gates, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Hurd, Major, and Woerner Slavic Studies Panel Addresses “Who Promised What to Whom on NATO Expansion?”

Washington D.C., December 12, 2017 – U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous “not one inch eastward” assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and on into 1991, according to declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (

The documents show that multiple national leaders were considering and rejecting Central and Eastern European membership in NATO as of early 1990 and through 1991, that discussions of NATO in the context of German unification negotiations in 1990 were not at all narrowly limited to the status of East German territory, and that subsequent Soviet and Russian complaints about being misled about NATO expansion were founded in written contemporaneous memcons and telcons at the highest levels. 

The documents reinforce former CIA Director Robert Gates’s criticism of “pressing ahead with expansion of NATO eastward [in the 1990s], when Gorbachev and others were led to believe that wouldn’t happen.”[1] The key phrase, buttressed by the documents, is “led to believe.”

Without this key piece, of the vexing Ukrainian catastrophe, Mary Sarotte political intervention, remains an ungainly hybrid: political melodrama/thought experiment. That only functions as Anti-Putin propaganda, a comfortable fit with The Financial Times’ Ideology!

Old Socialist

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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