Whatever the merits or otherwise of Russia's intervention in Georgia, the disproportionate ferocity of its military campaign must have brought back chilling memories to those of us old enough to have lived with the fear of imminent nuclear attack on our probably overactive minds during the latter years of the Cold War.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called for an immediate end to Russia's action, for which he said there could be "no justification" and which "threatens the stability of the entire region and risks a humanitarian catastrophe".
And he is probably right. However I wonder whether his postures of moral indignation are not tinged with just a hint of embarrassment, given his wholehearted support for the recent war in Iraq and that country's subsequent occupation by British and US forces?
The "justification" for that war, we will remember, was that Iraq was said to possess Weapons of Mass Destruction which if they were not taken out imminently would threaten the peace and security of humankind.
Anybody who knew anything about Middle Eastern politics knew full well that Iraq possessed no such weapons. Tony Blair knew it. Even I knew it. But it was the justification given for Britain's participation in the invasion of another country which even conservative estimates now tell us has resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 people, the large majority of them non-combatants. And when he finally admitted that the WMDs that we had gone to war to eliminate had never actually existed, he shrugged it off as though he had given the nation an erroneous weather forecast.
I am not a pacifist as such. I believe any nation, like any person, has a right of self-defence. But war is a truly terrible thing and the loss of innocent human life in pursuit of ideological or commercial interests is probably the most appalling tragedy that mankind has ever inflicted upon itself.
Our leaders could lecture those of other nations with greater moral authority if they were to set a better example themselves.