The new Cold War
THE term ‘cold war’ first appeared in 1945 in an essay by the English writer George Orwell named ‘You and the Atomic Bomb.’
Cold War means “a state of conflict between nations that does not involve direct military action but is pursued primarily through economic and political actions, propaganda, acts of espionage or proxy wars waged by surrogates.”
This term most commonly used to refer to the Soviet-American Cold War. But the new Cold War also include another actor, that is China.
Some historians argue Cold War started when Bolshevik Revolution came in Russia in 1917, which was a Communist revolution. Communism and capitalism both are antithetical to each other.
When the influence expanded to other neighbouring states of Russia, in 1922 sixteen states formed the Soviet Union. It made America worrisome and abhor towards the Soviet Union.
America’s refusal to treat the Soviet Union as a legitimate part of the international community ripened enmity between both states.
After that the long delay of the western powers to come for the safety of the Soviet Union when the German invades in 1941 resulted in murder of thousands of the Soviets.
This western power’s Appeasement Policy considered by the Soviets a western strategy “let the German kill the Soviet.” It made the hostility overwhelming.
According to the second view, the historians trace its origin to the period immediately following World War-II.
Yalta Conference of 1945, iron curtain speech in 1946 by Winston Churchill, Truman doctrine and then Marshall Plan triggered the Cold War.
From Havana to Hanoi, the offshoots of Cold War spread everywhere. The Korean War was the first war of the Cold War.
In 1960 Cuba missile crisis occurred, which brought the two superpowers near first nuclear war of the world. Following it Vietnam War started which caused death to thousands of American soldiers.
Last indirect conflict was Afghan invasion which resulted in the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
The President of America announced the triumph, cherishes The American and also allies. During his State of Union Address on 11 September 1991 Bush Senior proclaimed: “We were engaged in a great struggle in the skies, in seas and sands, we have done the hard work of freedom and tonight we lead the world in facing down the threat to decency and humanity.
The triumph of the democratic ideas in Eastern Europe, in Latin America and all around the world are confirmed.”
The 20th Century ended with the unipolar world. Uncle Sam thought they had done with their enemy. But start of 21st century proved it wrong and the new Cold War started.
The fight against communism might be over, but the Communist countries from the East began to respond to the US, in her own way.
Two leaders from the East ie Putin and Xi Jinping, challenged the US hegemony through proxies, trade and diplomacy.
Although the main US enemy during cold war was Russia, one more was added to the list in the new Cold War ie China.
The dawn of the 21st Century brought with it the rising China. Its military might and economic progress posed a threat to the US dominance.
China began to capture the world through trade and investment. It caused the US, to take some unconventional steps against China.
The US imposed economic sanctions on China and China responded accordingly. Hence, trade war started. The US also shifted her Asia-Pacific policy to the Indo-Pacific.
The initiative New Silk Road, establishment of Quad, more military presence in South China Sea, military assistance to Taiwan and support for Hong Kong are some manifestations of new Cold War.
Talking about Russia, Putin strengthened the [disintegrated] Russia, which gave birth to the new phase of Cold War, and also made Russia more strong to give befitting response to the US at every front.
Putin with political acumen and strong nerves has brought Russia to the level to compete the USA at international chessboard more firmly and robustly.
In 2015, On 30 September Russia launched airstrikes in Syria to back Bashar Al-Assad, to whom Americans wanted to topple.
Failed Trump had to announce the withdrawal of troops from Syria. Subsequently, Russia won Asad, the ruler of an important country in the Middle East.
Furthermore, Russia’s meddling in the US 2016 elections which boosted Trump candidacy, proved Putin a great strategist.
Trump’s policies i.e. withdrawal from Paris Climate Accord, cancellation of Iran nuclear deal, Mexico border wall, travel ban on some Muslim countries, recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel and etc, brought criticism to the US.
By bringing Trump into power, Russia succeeded to minimise its enemy’s role in international politics and tarnishing its image at international fora. Russia and China also enjoy good relations with Iran.
Both Russia and Iran are also major allies in Syria. Closer to home, Russia is also trying to play its card in Afghanistan conflict.
The US had to invite Russia to arrange Moscow conference, which was held on 20 March, to bring peace in Afghanistan.
After fighting the longest war the United States stands defeated and is facing humiliation, because of Russia’s support to Taliban.
Now Russia would surely win an important stake in Afghanistan’s political landscape.
Moreover, the sick man of Europe has also gone from the US hands. The US sanctions over Turkey against buying the S-400 missile system from Russia have brought the relations between former allies to historic low.
Turkey under Erdogan chose to preserve its sovereignty by pursuing independent policy.
Hence, the country (Turkey) which once allowed the US to deploy nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union now has warm relations with Russia and is no more on Uncle Sam’s payroll.
In Latin America, waves of Cold War were also seen following the Venezuela crisis. The US has thrown its support behind Venezuelan Opposition leader Juan Guaido and declared him the interim president.
While Russia sent two military planes carrying about 100 Russian personnel arrived in Caracas in support of President Maduro.
The US officials have told CBS News that the influx was unusual for its size, has fuelled tension between Russia and the US China was also supporting Maduro here.
Hence the 21st century has ignited the Cold War with new vigour.
It was thought that Biden the seasoned politician, who was known for his support to democratic values would not throw the world into abyss of another Cold War, but his first foreign policy speech proved it wrong.
Thus, the new Cold War is underway. But it’s not good for the world. Currently, there are many issues eg Climate change, poverty, overpopulation etc which need united response of the world.
Therefore, instead of confrontation, cooperation must be there for peace, progress and prosperity of the world.
—The writer is practising Lawyer and human rights activist, Lahore.