The west fell asleep on Cold War sentry duty and thought Putin couldn’t be serious, but he was. Is NATO?

Neal Ascherson in The Guardian:

History doesn’t repeat itself. It just tries to remember an old song it heard once. It may be that Putin’s 24 February 2022 will turn out to be like Hitler’s 22 June 1941 – the day he invaded Russia, doomed himself and Germany to destruction and made inevitable a divided Europe whose Cold War and barbed wire would last for half a century. But Putin isn’t Hitler. He will die a disappointed old nuisance in exile somewhere, rather than by Heldentod suicide in his bunker. Both men qualify as psychopathic dictators, swaddled from reality in fantasies of geopolitical revenge. But Putin’s grip on the Russian imagination is weaker than Hitler’s on the Germans. And his use of police terror against his own people, though horrifying, is distinctly less effective.

All the same, that wise historian Margaret MacMillan sees one desperately important parallel. Both men have meant what they said. And in both cases they were not taken seriously until it was too late.

More here.