Somewhat buried on Page 13 of the SF Chronicle, February 20th, was an article about an escalating war of words that could lead to a return of the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia - complete with freaky arms race and spiraling mistrust amidst growing piles of WMD.
Apparently, the U.S. has convinced Poland and the Czech Republic to let it install 10 "defensive" missiles and a radar site, ostensibly to protect against an attack from a "middle eastern" country. Russia sees it as another step in arming its old satellite countries against it and that it represents just a foot in the door for the U.S. with more offensive missiles to follow. They have threatened to respond by producing intermediate range nuclear missiles to aim back at Poland and the Czech Republic even though they were banned by the Gorbachev / Reagan agreements in 1987. One observer quoted in the article, says that Russia perceives this as payback for selling missiles to Iran and Syria. In what appears to be a reassurance to Russians, the Polish Prime Minister made the unsettling statement that "the missile defense is not directed against any normal state."
I find it totally unsettling that the Dr. Strangelovian-missile-advocates have some operative definition of which states fail the "normalcy" test. It's equally unsettling that any government sees itself as an arms merchant to other countries. Has the current messy tragedy in Iraq made all the players nostalgic for the Cold War?