I have been writing for some weeks on the return of the Russian Bear. Today the Telegraph reports on the rise of The Shanghai Co-operation Organisation which is fast turning into a new Warsaw Pact.

Like Nato, its treaty states that an attack on one member is regarded as an attack on all. At the moment the four central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as well as China and Russia make up is membership but in the wings are the likes of Iran, Pakistan, Mongolia and, surprisingly, India.

It need not be doubted that this organisation is aimed at the West and that the umbrella that it might in future provide to states such as Iran, but doubtless in future to other rogue and failed states as well is one which must be viewed as being born of hostility to us. Why is Russia choosing this moment to engage in cosying up to this bunch of largely unattractive chums?

Well, it senses, believes that the USA and Britain, champions in arms of freedom and democracy, have been gravely, if not fatally weakened by the Bush-Blair adventure in Iraq, even to the point where the forces of evil may be about to administer to us a defeat on a par with the defeat in Vietnam thirty and more years ago. If so, this is the time when Russia, now buoyed up on a vast pile of gas and oil revenues, feels it can move to recover the position of military and diplomatic strength and once again set itself up in competition with the West.

So, we should look to our defences. Make our armed forces better equipped for the war in Afghanistan, by all means, but prepare now to restore our armed forces to a position where they can take their place in a credible defence of our territory, our trade and our worldwide interests.

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