Doesn’t it feel like a new cold war out there?

Condi Rice has taken off those dominatrix black boots and slipped into dark cold war terminology: “The idea that somehow 10 interceptors and a few radars in Eastern Europe are going to threaten the Soviet strategic deterrent is purely ludicrous, and everybody knows it,” she said speaking in Oslo last week at a gathering of diplomats from NATO countries.

The Russians don’t see it quite the same way. And last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended his nation’s compliance with a treaty on conventional weapons in Europe that was created at the end of the cold war. The decision, fueled by the Kremlin’s anger at the US’s proposal to build this new missile defense system in Europe, is just another sign of how much has been squandered since the Cold War was officially declared “kaput” in Malta in 1989 at the summit between George Bush I and Mikhail Gorbachev.

But don’t pay too much attention to the news stories–few give you a sense of the history of where we’re at…and how we got there. For an understanding of what you’re reading in the headlines–for the clearest, earliest history of how this new Cold War erupted–read Stephen F. Cohen’s cover story in The Nation last summer.

And for a sense of how, once again, the US is ignoring the popular will of smaller nations–in this case, the two countries at the center of this new insanity–Poland and the Czech Republic–read my blog of earlier this month

The mind boggles at the layers of nuttiness involved in this deployment, starting with the fact that Iran–supposed source of missiles–has no nuclear bombs–and that interceptors couldn’t stop them if it did.