The new Labour government is leading the West’s war of words against Russia in its dispute with Georgia.
Foreign secretary David Miliband went to the Ukraine last month to drum up an “anti-Russian coalition” and enthuse about extending Nato eastwards.
But Western powers are too overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan to intervene militarily against an opponent such as Russia.
They fear future Russian intervention into Ukraine or Azerbaijan, but also need Russian cooperation in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
They are also reliant on the energy resources that Russia provides.
The root of the dispute between Russia and the West is not about complex national questions, but about who controls the Caucasus region.
Underpinning that rivalry are US attempts to expand Nato to bring more countries under its military and political influence. The Caspian Sea, which Russia borders, is rich in oil and gas. It is a glittering prize for the big powers.
The demonstration on 20 September at Labour’s annual conference in Manchester will bring together opposition to David Miliband’s and Gordon Brown’s policies. The threat of war is spreading and the world is now more dangerous than at any time since the beginning of the “war on terror”.
The anti-war movement needs to grow to defeat that challenge.