What did the late George F. Kennan, former US ambassador to the Soviet Union, and architect of America's fifty-year-long "containment policy" have to say about NATO expansion to the borders of Russia? Kennan wrote:
(E)xpanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-cold war era. Such a decision may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.
More recently, Henry Kissinger, proponent of NATO expansion to include the states of Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe, warned against further NATO expansion:
Confrontational rhetoric notwithstanding, Russia's leaders are conscious of their strategic limitations. Indeed, I would characterize Russian policy under Putin as driven in a quest for a reliable strategic partner, with America being the preferred choice ... But the movement of the Western security system from the Elbe River to the approaches to Moscow brings home Russia's decline in a way bound to generate a Russian emotion that will inhibit the solution of all other issues. It should be kept on the table without forcing the issue to determine the possibilities of making progress on other issues.Earlier in 2008 the US Senate passed the NATO Freedom Consolidation Act of 2007. John McCain co-sponsor off the bill, which authorized the United States to invite Georgia and Ukraine -- former Soviet Republics -- into NATO. It passed unanimously in the United States Senate.
Stalin biographer Richard Lourie wrote a commentary on NATO expansion back in 2006 in which he concluded: "There’s still plenty of time for Kennan to be right." It looks as if that time is at hand.
Hat-tip: Belgravia dispatch