Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

In international affairs, great principles exist only as long as they reflect the balance of power. The principle you express in your editorial on Ukraine (FT View, December 30) that “European nations are free to choose their own systems and alliances” for only the last 30 years of American global domination. Indeed, the reason it is restricted to Europe is because it suits the US there, but much less so in other parts of the world (Afghanistan, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria…).

American domination is now fading. Ukraine increasingly looks like a test case where Russia is willing to fight to prevent closer integration with NATO, while the US and its allies are unwilling to go beyond more (so far completely ineffective) economic sanctions. Time, perhaps, to focus less on big principles and more on finding a pragmatic way out of a very dangerous crisis (as Biden, to his credit, seems to be doing).

Sir Anthony Brenton
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom

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