in

The ‘New Cold War’ was never inevitable

Russian-American relations today can be described by Kennan’s phrase: “a new cold war.”

Note: this article is part of a symposium on U.S.-Russia relations included in the September/October 2017 issue of the National Interest.

On May 2, 1998, the journalist Thomas L. Friedman published a column in the New York Times based on an interview with the dean of American students of Russia, George Kennan.

“I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,”

Kennan answered, when asked his opinion of the decision of the Clinton administration to expand NATO into the territory of the former Warsaw Pact, while excluding Russia from NATO membership.

Kennan continued:

“I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake.”

Friedman went on to write that “if we are lucky,” future historians would say that

Russia, despite NATO expansion, moved ahead with democratization and Westernization, and was gradually drawn into a loosely unified Europe. If we are unlucky they will say, as Mr. Kennan predicts, that NATO expansion set up a situation in which NATO now has to either expand all the way to Russia’s border, triggering a new cold war, or stop expanding after these three new countries and create a new dividing line through Europe.

The future has arrived, and confirmed the pessimism of Kennan and Friedman back in 1998. The attempt of the United States and its European allies to draw Georgia into their orbit provoked the Russo-Georgian War of 2008. A similar attempt to bring Ukraine into NATO and the EU provoked Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, and a proxy war in Ukraine that continues today. To these actions—seen as defensive by Moscow but aggressive by the West—the United States and its allies responded with financial sanctions. In turn, Putin’s government engaged in further provocative military actions, including its intervention in Syria, and is accused of having had a role in hacking Democratic Party records in order to embarrass the Clinton campaign in the 2016 election.

Russian-American relations today can be described by Kennan’s phrase: “a new cold war.”

READ MORE: RISE AND FALL OF GIANTS: US-Russian VISA Suspension Begins the Next Cold War

If any further proof were needed, it can be found in the revival of Cold War–style McCarthyite paranoia—this time not among conservatives, but among progressives, many of whom sincerely believe that Vladimir Putin is responsible for the election of Donald Trump. This explanation provides a comforting alibi for the disastrous failure of the Clinton campaign and for the decline of the Democratic Party as a whole, which has been reduced to its lowest share of government power at all levels in the United States in nearly a century.

The fires of Russophobia are stoked by many neoconservatives as well as partisan Democrats. Temporarily disgraced by their support for the catastrophic war in Iraq, neoconservatives nostalgic for Cold War One can try to regain influence by rallying Washington and the American people to heroic efforts in Cold War Two against Putin’s shrunken, post-imperial Russian Federation.

Russia, we are supposed to be believe, is a threat on the scale of the former Soviet Union. Unlike the USSR, which sought to overturn Western liberalism by promoting Marxism-Leninism, Putin’s Russia, it is claimed, seeks to spread an “alt-right” ideology of neofascism via its fifth columnists—populist politicians like Trump and Marine Le Pen—in Europe and the West.

Just as Russian interference in the 2016 election provides an alibi for the failed Clinton campaign, so the alleged Russian global ideological conspiracy absolves the centrist establishments of the United States and Europe of any responsibility for provoking the current transatlantic populist rebellion against neoliberal trade and immigration policies. Western dissidents who reject the bipartisan neoliberal consensus shared by center-right and center-left parties do not have legitimate domestic grievances; no, they are Russian dupes—when they are not Russian agents! Many on today’s center-left and center-right interpret domestic populist movements exactly as much of the Right interpreted civil-rights and prolabor movements for much of the twentieth century between 1917 and 1989—as conspiracies directed by Moscow.

At some point the fever will break. In a decade, today’s Russian Peril will probably seem as deranged, and as manipulated for partisan domestic purposes, as the Red Scares of the 1920s and the 1950s. In time, it is likely that President Trump or a successor will deescalate Cold War Two in favor of something like détente during the Nixon era. But with one of the two parties—the Democrats—along with most of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment (which benefits from threat inflation) committed to making Cold War Two even colder, a thaw is unlikely any time soon.

Michael Lind is a contributing editor at the National Interest and author of The American Way of Strategy.

Source: National Interest 

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!

Report

What do you think?

8
Leave a Reply

avatar
6 Comment threads
2 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
4 Comment authors
zorbatheturkShahnaIsabella Jonesdave3200 Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Isabella Jones
Guest
Isabella Jones

I’m not sure why something called “Russia” feed would bring this piece of typical American garbage, full of it’s lies and unsubstantiated,unproven allegations against Russia. It starts with the usual “Crimean annexation” which wasn’t, goes onto the supposed invasions of Ukraine, Syria, – where Russia is present at the invitation of the Syrian government, and so on, finishing with the utter garbage lies about so called “hacking” of the election, proven to be impossible. I never read anything out of America, or the Western MSM for this reason. I dont expect to have it turn up in my Facebook Page… Read more »

dave3200
Guest
dave3200

Excellent post, Ms. Jones. However, it is sometimes valuable to learn the viewpoint of others, especially those with whom you disagree. How else can one justify an opposition to the views of others if those views are not known and understood?

Isabella Jones
Guest
Isabella Jones

Thank you for your kind words dave. Regarding your comment about gathering the knowledge of what those of the Western MSM have to say : Well, indeed, yes. What you say is very true. However, I honestly doubt if anyone who comes here regularly is still in the slightest doubt regarding the regular diet of garbage the West dishes up about things Russian. In a way, that’s my point. We know the crap they keep spieling, we know it is brain manipulation lies, we long ago completely rejected it and came here [and to similar sites] to read truth and… Read more »

Shahna
Guest

Disagree.
When China announced all was in place for all the world to trade oil in yuan instead of dollars this new Cold War became inevitable. What is not inevitable, but horribly likely, is that it will progress to a “hot” war.

Shahna
Guest

“The future has arrived, and confirmed the pessimism of Kennan and Friedman back in 1998. The attempt of the United States and its European allies to draw Georgia into their orbit provoked the Russo-Georgian War of 2008. A similar attempt to bring Ukraine into NATO and the EU provoked Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, and a proxy war in Ukraine that continues today. To these actions—seen as defensive by Moscow but aggressive by the West—the United States and its allies responded with financial sanctions. In turn, Putin’s government engaged in further provocative military actions, including its intervention in Syria,… Read more »

Shahna
Guest

“In a decade, today’s Russian Peril will probably seem as deranged, and as manipulated for partisan domestic purposes, as the Red Scares of the 1920s and the 1950s. In time, it is likely that President Trump or a successor will deescalate Cold War Two in favor of something like détente during the Nixon era.”
————-
Excuse my French but, quite literally, Phuck that.
Here’s hoping the Russians wipe them off the face of the earth and save themselves and the rest of us from the scourge of America that is nothing more than wanton Death & Destruction across the face of the planet.

Shahna
Guest

…. I can’t help wondering – has Murdoch bought out RussiaFeed?

zorbatheturk
Guest
zorbatheturk

RuSSia is a busted flush.

Russia, South Korea to sign several agreements before East Economic Forum

NEXT WEEK: Putin will visit Budapest and meet with Hungarian Prime Minister