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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Russia rising from the ashes: new cold war for the US?

The author discusses how the 21st century is an era of a new Cold War between Russia and the US. Putin strengthened the once disintegrated Russia and has enabled the country to give a befitting response to the US at every front.

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 includes another actor, which is China.

Some historians argue Cold War started when Bolshevik Revolution came to Russia in 1917, which was a communist revolution. Communism and capitalism both are antithetical to each other.

Read more: Why efforts to spread communism failed in Pakistan

When the influence expanded to other neighbouring states of Russia, in 1922 sixteen states formed USSR. It made America worrisome and abhor towards USSR. America’s refusal to treat the USSR 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 USSR when German invaded in 1941 resulted in the murder of thousands of soviets. This western power’s Appeasement policy considered by the soviets a western strategy “let the German killed the Soviet.” It made the hostility overwhelming.

Read more: The USSR’s failed attempts to ally with the West

The collapse of the Soviet Union

According to the second view, historians trace its origin to the period immediately following World War 2. 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 the Cold War spread everywhere. The Korean War was the first war of the cold war. In 1960 Cuban missile crisis occurred, which brought the two superpowers near the first nuclear war of the world.

Following it, Vietnam War started which caused death to thousands of American soldiers. The last indirect conflict was an afghan invasion, which resulted in the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The collapse of the Soviet Union was celebrated by the US as a victory.

Read more: 40 years on, veterans still grapple with Soviet-Afghan war

The president of America announced the triumph, cherishes the American and also allies. During his state of the 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, is confirmed.”

A new cold war

The 20th century ended with a unipolar world. Uncle Sam thought they had done with their enemy. But the start of the 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 their own way. Two leaders from the east i.e Putin and Xi Jinping challenged the US hegemony through proxies, trade and diplomacy.

Read more: Are Russia and China Creating a New World Order in Eurasia?

Although the main US enemy during the cold war was Russia, one more was added to the list in the new cold War and i.e. China. The dawn of the 21st century brought with it rising China.

Its military might and economic progress posed a threat to 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, the trade war started.

The US also shifted its Asia Pacific policy to Indo-Pacific. The initiative New Silk Road, the establishment of Quad, more military presence in the South China Sea, military assistance to Taiwan, and support for Hong Kong are some manifestations of the new Cold War.

Read more: The Quad: a desperate attempt by US to bully China?

Is Russia rising once again?

Talking about Russia, Putin strengthened the disintegrated Russia, which gave birth to the new phase of the Cold War, and also made Russia more strong to give a befitting response to the US at every front.

Putin with political acumen and strong nerves has brought Russia to the level to compete with the USA at the 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.

Read more: Russia vows to crush Syria jihadists once and for all

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 the Paris Climate Accord, cancellation of Iran nuclear deal, Mexico border wall, a travel ban on some Muslim countries, recognition of Jerusalem as the 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 an international forum.

Russia and China also enjoy good relations with Iran. Both Russia and Iran are also major allies in Syria, a country that was once America’s ally. Closer to home, Russia is also trying to play its card in the Afghanistan conflict.

The US had to invite Russia to arrange the Moscow conference, which was arranged on 20th March, to bring peace to Afghanistan. After fighting the longest war, the United States is defeated and facing humiliation, because of Russia’s support of the Taliban. Now Russia would surely win an important stake in Afghanistan’s political leadership.

Read more: Will stabilising Afghanistan promise regional influence to both Russia and China?

Is the US losing allies?

Moreover, the sick man to Europe has also gone from the US hands. The US sanctions over Turkey against buying the S-400 missiles system from Russia have brought the relations between former allies to a historic low.

Turkey, under Erdogan, chose to preserve its sovereignty by pursuing an independent policy. Hence, the country (Turkey) which once allowed the US to deploy nuclear weapons against USSR now has warm relations with Russia and is no more on Uncle Sam’s payroll.

Read more: S-400 system or F-35 jets: Turkey to decide between Russia and US

In Latin America waves of the Cold War were also seen following the Venezuela crisis. The U.S. 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 the support of President Maduro.

The U.S. officials have told CBS News that the influx was unusual for its size, has fuelled tensions between Russia and the U.S. as China was also supporting Maduro here. Hence, the 21st century has ignited the Cold War between Russia and U.S with new vigour.

It was thought that Biden, the seasoned politician, who was known for his support to democratic values would not put through the world into an abyss of another Cold War, but his first foreign policy speech proved it wrong.

Read more: What does a President Joe Biden mean for the world?

Thus, the New Cold War is underway.

But it’s not good for the world. Currently, there are many issues e.g. climate change, poverty, overpopulation etc, which need a united response of the world. Therefore, instead of confrontation, cooperation must be there for peace, progress and prosperity of the world.

The author is a practising lawyer and human rights activist based in Lahore. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.