Settling these quarrels is essential to peace in Europe. But the notion that Russian intervention in a Baltic republic should be met by a U.S. declaration of war, or any attack upon a nation with thousands of atomic weapons, is the definition of insanity.
Nor are these the only quarrels we have with Putin's Russia that could explode into full-blown crises. Washington has persuaded the Czech Republic and Poland, two former Warsaw Pact countries, to accept radars and missiles for a U.S. anti-missile system.
We say the missile defense system is directed at Iran. Russians see it as of a piece with the move eastward of NATO and targeted at them. Can we blame them for so thinking, when we responded to their pullout of troops from Central and Eastern Europe by bringing Central and Eastern Europe into a U.S.-led alliance?
If the Russia-baiters in this capital have their way, Ukraine and Georgia will also be brought into NATO. That would commit us to go to war with Russia over control of the Crimean peninsula and the Russian-speaking Donbass of eastern Ukraine, and over the birthplace of Stalin and who should control South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
"Moscow would not dare intervene in the Baltic republics!" comes the retort. Perhaps not. But the Russians are now fiercely nationalistic and anti-American. And it is always a mistake for a great power to cede to a minor power the ability to draw it into a great war. Just as it is always a mistake to hand out war guarantees one cannot honor.
In March 1939, Britain gave a war guarantee to Polish colonels who had not requested it, a guarantee Britain had no way of fulfilling. The war that followed cost Britain her empire and Poland 50 years of freedom.
In August 1914, King Albert of Belgium informed King George V that the Kaiser's troops had crossed his border. He invoked a treaty assuring Belgian neutrality that the British had signed -- in 1839!
So, Britain declared war, and 700,000 Brits perished in the Great War that hurled the West onto its present path of self-destruction.
And the march of folly continues on.