Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Self defence or arms race?

By Jeff Schubert - posted Wednesday, 14 February 2007

On the retreat from Moscow in the winter of 1812 Napoleon Bonaparte complained that the countries of Europe did not understand that “the Russian Colossus” was the “enemy”.

General Caulaincourt tried to set him straight: “As a matter of fact, it is Your Majesty they fear. It is Your Majesty who is the cause of everyone’s anxieties and prevents them seeing other dangers. The governments are afraid there is going to be a World State.”

Caulaincourt had already told Napoleon that he “ought not shut his eyes to the fact that it was only too well understood in Europe nowadays that, when he concerned himself with the affairs of a country, it was to serve his own rather than its interests”.


At the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy recently, Russia’s President Putin said, “we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations”; and, “one state, the US, has overstepped its national boundaries in every way”.

“It is a world of one master, one sovereign.”

“This is very dangerous, nobody feels secure anymore because nobody can hide behind international law.” Putin is telling the US what Caulaincourt was telling Napoleon.

Russia has two immediate concerns. On US missile defence (particularly if launch facilities are stationed in eastern Europe), Putin said the “balance (of power) would be upset completely and one side will have a feeling of complete security and given a free hand in local, and probably global, conflicts.”

Not surprisingly, he added: “We need to respond to this.” On NATO: “The process of NATO expansion has nothing to do with modernisation of the alliance or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it is a serious factor provoking reduction of mutual trust.”

As Napoleon was to eventually understand, the reaction of those countries - Russia and others - that fear the intentions of the US is to put themselves in a position to fight back. As Putin said of present US attitudes and actions: “This is nourishing an arms race with the desire of other countries to get nuclear weapons.”


When Senator John McCain criticised Putin’s comments by saying, “in today’s multi-polar world there is no place for needless confrontation”, Putin’s spokesman replied that the speech was “not about confrontation, it’s an invitation to think”.

And, in words that could have easily been said by Caulaincourt, Putin’s spokesman added: “Until we get rid of unilateralism in international affairs, until we exclude the possibility of imposing one country’s views on others, we will not have stability.”

What is true of the world, is also true of the Middle East. At the Munich Conference, Israel’s Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, said of Iran: “It is a regime that mocks the Holocaust while threatening the world with a new one, while trying to develop a weapon to do so. Iran is a threat not only to Israel … but to the world.”

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

12 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Jeff Schubert is an economist, business consultant and writer. He is author of Dictatorial CEOs and their Lieutenants: Inside the Executive Suites of Napoleon, Stalin, Ataturk, Mussolini, Hitler and Mao. He is a regular commentator on Russian affairs and now lives in Moscow. Jeff is also the creator of The Little Pink Ant. His websites are: and The also blogs about Russia at

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Jeff Schubert

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 12 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy