Simon Jenkins says that the Western do-something professionals are basically circle-jerking over Putin and Crimea. The truth is, Putin has acted badly, but there’s nothing much we can do about it, or, frankly, should do about it. Sometimes, you just have to live with things you hate. Excerpt:

I accept that there are conversations between states that sometimes require plain speaking. But the words must be fit for the purpose in hand. This would surely extend to an acceptance of what used to be called “spheres of interest” along the still new and sensitive borders in Europe and Asia. Putin’s rectifying of Nikita Khrushchev’s 1954 “donation” of Crimea to Ukraine may be technically illegal. So was the west’s war on Serbia over Kosovo. It is hardly on a par with Hitler’s invasion of the Sudetenland, or the west’s violent seizure of Iraq and Afghanistan. In the catalogue of global outrage, it is no big deal.

In his book America and the Imperialism of Ignorance, Andrew Alexander showed from an examination of Soviet documents how far the west misjudged Moscow’s intentions during the cold war. A mix of belligerent posturing and over-reaction to provocation was heavily driven by the Pentagon’s military-industrial complex, with Nato trotting along behind. The result took an appalling risk with European security, and at a horrific cost.

The current response to Crimea shows how easily misjudgment can emerge from such political machismo. Perhaps the better parallel is Sarajevo 1914. One leader’s wounded pride triggers another’s pursuit of self-interest, a reckless treaty triggers a pre-emptive strike. Bluffs are called, prices thought “worth paying”. As pandemonium ensues, no one can recall how it all started.

Today’s reign of the do-somethings is oozing from the musty corridors of a once-imperial Foreign Office. It is seeping from under-employed defence lobbyists and thinktanks. It begs, weeps, screams that “something must be done” about Crimea. It derides “doing nothing” as so much wimpish, pseudo-pacifist appeasement. It must, or how else will Chatham House feed its young?