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The Second Cold War
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In the light of the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, there has been much talk about the clouding of US-Russian relations. Some voices in the Internet’s alternative media sections have conjured the possibility that these conflicts might lead to a new major war, while social networks like Twitter saw the usage of the hashtags #WorldWarIII and #WorldWar3 explode after Turkey shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 jet in the vicinity of the Syrian border. Headlines in mainstream media outlets like Foreign Policy and the Guardian also proclaimed, “Welcome to Cold War III” and asked “are we going back to the bad old days?”.

This article suggests that although the ideological division of the Cold War ended de facto with the collapse of the Soviet Union, American geopolitical schemes to contain Russian power abroad have never really been abandoned. Throughout the 1990s and until today, US policymakers have been determined to wage overt or covert proxy wars with the aim of curbing its former adversary’s political, economic, and military influence. Chechnya, Ukraine, and Syria are the key spots where the logic of this second Cold War is played out.

A short glance over the state of the world today and its representation in the media suffices to identify a growing number of actual and potential centers of conflicts: Civil war is raging in parts of Ukraine, military tensions are growing in the South Chinese Sea, and the Middle East is more of a mess than ever. Nonetheless, some have suggested that the actual number of armed conflicts has actually reached a historical low. But this assertion is solely based on statistical preference. It is true that interstate (conflicts between two or more states) wars are on the decline. Instead, wars today are much more likely to take the form of intrastate conflicts between governments and insurgents, rather than national armies fighting over territory. As demonstrated to an outstanding degree in Syria, these conflicts are more and more internationalized and involve a bulk of non-state actors and countries who try to reach their goals through proxies rather than direct involvement, which would require “boots on the ground.”

But let’s start at the end. The end of the Cold War, that is. The situation during the years of systemic antagonism between the Eastern and Western Blocs has sometimes been captured in the image of three separate “worlds”: the capitalist First World, the socialist Second World, and a Third World. The latter term was not used as a marker for impoverishment and instability as it is commonly understood today, but as a postcolonial alternative “third way” for those newly independent states that struggled to avoid their renewed absorption by the two towering ideological empires. One strategy through which developing countries attempted to duck the neocolonial policies of the Cold War Blocs was by founding the informal Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) in 1961, initiated by India, Indonesia, Egypt, Ghana, and Yugoslavia. Counting 120 members as of now—in fact a large part of the global South—the movement’s anti-imperialist and anti-colonial stance has lost much of its bargaining power after the end of the Cold War.

Still, the final document of the movement’s 1998 summit in Durban, South Africa suggests that the end of the long-standing bipolar power configuration has by no means led to the betterment of those countries’ situation. Unipolar American dominance and the collapse of the Soviet Union instigated what was understood to be “a worrisome and damaging uni-polarity in political and military terms that is conducive to further inequality and injustice and, therefore, to a more complex and disquieting world situation.” This analysis turned out to be correct in many respects, particularly concerning the period of the 1990s.

While the Clinton years of domestic prosperity saw the US economy achieve the rarity of a budget surplus, the citizens of its erstwhile antagonist were (probably with the exception of Boris Yeltsin) experiencing the more sobering effects of Russia’s political and economic paradigm shift. Democratic Russia struggled to consolidate its deeply shaken economy in an environment ripe with organized crime, crippling corruption, and under the doubtful patronage of oligarchs like Boris Berezovsky who controlled the influential television channel ORT and whom Ron Unz in “Our American Pravda” described as “the puppet master behind President Boris Yeltsin during the late 1990s.”

The actual situation in the former Soviet heartland during the 1990s was utterly different from what American elites and media often depicted as a “golden age” of newfound democracy and a ballooning private sector. From the perspective of many US elites, the country’s plundering by oligarchs, ruthless criminal gangs, kleptocratic politicians, and corrupt military officers was welcomed as a convenient, self-fulfilling mechanism to permanently destabilize its mortally wounded adversary. But Russia never completed all the stages of collapse, not least because Yeltsin’s successor Vladimir Putin eventually took legal action to put such “businessmen” like Roman Abramovich and Berezovsky out of business. The latter was forced to seek refuge in London, from where he threatened to use his £850m private fortune to plot “a new Russian revolution” and violently remove his former protégé from the Kremlin.

The chaotic and aimless term of the alcoholic Yeltsin is often regarded as a chiefly positive time in which the East and the West closed ranks, although politicians and neoconservative think tanks in reality conducted the political and economic sellout of Russia during these years. The presidency of Vladimir Putin, while anything but perfect and with its own set of domestic issues, still managed to halt the nation’s downward spiral in many areas. Nevertheless, it is persistently depicted by Western elites and their “Pravda” as dubious, “authoritarian,” and semi-democratic at best.

Thus, in spite of Francis Fukuyama’s triumphalist proclamation of the “End of History” after the fall of the Berlin wall that supposedly heralded the universal rein of liberal democracy, the legacy of the Cold War is anything but behind us. Ostensibly, the current geopolitical situation with its fragmented, oblique, and often contradictory constellations and fault lines is utterly different from the much more straightforward Cold War dualism. Of the Marxist ideology only insular traces remain today, watered down and institutionalized in China, exploited in a system of nationalistic iconography in Cuba, and arranged around an absurdly twisted personality cult in North Korea. As of 2015, Russia is an utterly capitalistic nation, highly integrated in the globalized economy and particularly interdependent with the members of the European economic zone. Its military clout and budget ($52 billion) are dwarfed by US military spending of $598.5 billion in 2015. Even more importantly, after 1991 Russia had to close down or abandon many of its important bases, ports and other military installations as a result of the NATO’s eastward expansion.

Nevertheless, the sheer size of its territory and its command of a substantial nuclear weapon arsenal cement Russia’s role as a primary threat to American national interests. This is illustrated by the fact that for three and a half decades the US has covertly supported radical Islamic movements with the goal to permanently destabilize the Russian state by entrapping it in a succession of messy and virtually unwinnable conflicts. Pursued openly during the Soviet-Afghan War of the 1980s, this scheme continued to be employed throughout the 1990s during both Chechen Wars, as well as in Russia’s so-called “near abroad” spheres of influence: Dagestan, Ingushetia, South Ossetia, and other former Soviet vassal republics in the Caucasus, which have constantly suffered from extremists who exploit the lack of governmental pervasion in their remote mountain regions. These regions are home to over 25 million ethnic Russians and important components of the country’s economy. After the Soviet-Afghan War and the CIA’s buildup of Osama bin-Laden’s “resistance fighters,” American policymakers recognized the destabilizing potential inherent in the volatile political and sectarian configurations in the Islamic countries that encircle the post-Soviet Russian borderlands.

Hence, despite many political ceremonies, pledges of cooperation, and the opening of Moscow’s first McDonalds in 1990, this policy was never fully abandoned. As a matter of fact, peaceful political coexistence and economic convergence never were the primary goals. Democratic Russia with its allies, military potential, and possible Eurasian trade agreements that threaten to isolate or hamper US hegemony was and still is considered a menace to American ambitions of unipolar, universal dominance.

Since the First Chechen War in 1994, Russia’s prolonged struggle against Islamic terrorism has for the most part been disregarded by Western media. Particularly after 9/11, the “war on terror” acted like a black hole that sucked up the bulk of the Western media’s attention. When the acts of terrorism on Russian soil became too horrifying to ignore—the 2002 Moscow theater hostage crisis and the 2004 Beslan school siege in particular—the massive death tolls were blamed on the drastic responses of Russian security forces who were not adequately prepared and overwhelmed by the vicious and meticulously planned attacks. In Beslan, the death of hundreds of innocents (186 children were murdered on their first day at school) was indirectly condoned and sardonically depicted as the consequences of the “separatist movement [and its] increasingly desperate attempts to break Russia’s stranglehold on its home turf.” Truly, to describe those who shoot children in front of their parents and vice versa as “separatists” and glorify them as “rebels” who act in self defense against an “authoritarian” regime demands a very special kind of callous apathy.

In a 2013 article that examined the Chechen descent of the suspects behind the Boston Marathon bombing, retired FBI agent and 2002 Time Person of the Year Coleen Rowley exposed “how the Chechen ‘terrorists’ proved useful to the U.S. in keeping pressure on the Russians.” She explicitly refers to a 2004 Guardian piece by John Laughland, in which the author connects the anti-Russian sentiments in the BBC and CNN coverage of the Beslan massacre to the influence of one particular organization, the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya (ACPC), whose list of members reads like “a rollcall of the most prominent neoconservatives who so enthusastically (sic) support the ‘war on terror,’” among them Richard Perle, Elliott Abrams, James Woolsey, and Frank Gaffney. Laughland describes the ACPC as an organization that

heavily promotes the idea that the Chechen rebellion shows the undemocratic nature of Putin’s Russia, and cultivates support for the Chechen cause by emphasising the seriousness of human rights violations in the tiny Caucasian republic. It compares the Chechen crisis to those other fashionable “Muslim” causes, Bosnia and Kosovo – implying that only international intervention in the Caucasus can stabilise the situation there.

There are three key elements in the organization’s lobbying strategy to denigrate Russia and promote an intervention in Chechnya that serve to unmask a larger pattern behind the US foreign policy after 9/11. First, the labeling of a particular leader or government as “authoritarian” or in some other way “undemocratic” (Vladimir Putin, in this case). Second, the concept of an oppressed yet positively connoted population that strives for freedom and democracy (Chechen terrorists with ties to a-Qaeda, in this case). Finally, the stressing of “human rights violations” that warrant an intervention or economic embargo.

If all of these conditions are satisfied, the violation of the borders of a sovereign state is seen as justified (UN mandate not needed), enabling the US to emerge as a knight in shining armor and champion of human rights, bolting to the rescue of the world’s downtrodden, while covertly achieving an utterly different goal: To further the logic of a second Cold War through proxy warfare and weaken Russian by diminishing its foothold in its surrounding “near abroad” regions, which in many respects represent vital interests, both economically and strategically.

Swap out names and dates and it becomes evident that the same tripartite strategy was used to justify every recent intervention of the US and other NATO members, in Iraq (2003), Libya (2011), and Syria (since 2011). Interventions that were legitimized under the banner of humanitarian relief through the removal of “authoritarian” tyrants and supposed dictators and which have resulted in the deaths of an estimated 500,000 people, in Iraq alone. When the ASPC’s made its appeal regarding Chechnya in 2004, mind you, only one year had passed since the Abu Ghraib torture photos were leaked and two years since the first inmates arrived in the extralegal detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

Regarding the sweltering conflict in Ukraine’s Donbass region, the key dynamics are similar. President Viktor Yanukovych, accused by the Euromaidan movement—fueled by aggressive US and EU media propaganda and enticed with promises of lucrative NATO and EU memberships—of “abusing power” and “violation of human rights,” was forced to resign and replaced with a ultranationalist, anti-Russian and pro-Western government. Again, this campaign had nothing to do with actual humanitarian relief or concerns about the country’s democratic integrity. Instead, the hopes of a whole generation for a better future under Western influence were exploited by US policymakers who hoped to stifle Russia’s geostrategic elbowroom by ousting the naval bases of its Black Sea Fleet from the Crimea.

These bases, mostly located in the city of Sevastopol, have been the home port of the Russian navy for over 230 years, and are vital because they provide the only direct access to the Black Sea and (through the Bosporus strait in Turkey) to the Mediterranean. Any expansion of NATO towards these bases had to be regarded as a direct threat, leaving the Russian government practically no choice but to protect them with all means necessary. However, in the stories emanating from Western mainstream media, these bases were showcased as an occupation of sovereign Ukrainian territory and used as proof of Russia’s aggressive, “authoritarian,” and imperial aspirations. In reality, Ukraine and Russia signed a Partition Contract in 1997, in which the Ukraine agreed to lease major parts of its facilities to the Russian Black Sea Fleet until 2017, for an annual payment of $98 million.

Along the lines of the currently revitalized genre of alternate history, let’s briefly indulge in the notion that we were still living in the ideologically divided world of the Cold War, in which the Warsaw Pact still existed. For a second, imagine if Mexico or Guatemala or Canada expressed their desire to join said pact and invited its troops to conduct military exercises at their shared border with the US. Even without the existence of an American naval base in that country, how do you think the US would react to such a scenario? Would it stand by idly and let itself be surrounded by its adversaries? For an even more striking parallel, take the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The American military actually has a naval base there—Guantanamo Bay, home to the infamous detention camp. Many historians see the deployment of Soviet missiles and troops on the island as the closest that humanity ever came to entering World War III and mutually assured destruction (MAD). With its support for “regime change” in Ukraine and extension of the NATO to the Russian borders, the US today is engaged in the same old Cold War superpower games that the Soviets played in Cuba 53 years ago. In fact, we should think of Ukraine as being situated in Mother Russia’s “backyard.”

Thousands of miles away from the coasts of North America, the Middle East is the region that Uncle Sam seems to regard as his very own backyard. Many consider George W. Bush’s “War on Terror” after 9/11 and the subsequent interventions in Iraq and (to a lesser degree) Afghanistan as those catastrophic policy decisions that resulted in the sociopolitical destabilization of large parts of this region, resulting in the death, injury, and displacement of millions. In Iraq, Libya, and Syria, the spurious US rhetorical agenda of removing “tyrants” and endowing the local demographics with the liberating gift of democracy has in fact produced vast ungoverned spaces where militant groups like the al-Qaeda offshoot Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) were able to carve out their “caliphates” and claim other territorial prices. For a long time, the rapid expansion of the Islamic State and its death-loving, apocalyptic ideology was resisted only by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the paramilitary National Defense Forces (NDF), and Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG). The SAA alone has lost as much as 200,000 soldiers in its struggle against various terrorist factions since March 2011.

US politicians and media have expressed their hopes that the Russian intervention to assist the Syrian government in its resistance against these Western, Saudi, and Turkey-backed groups will result in a military and economic debacle, comparable to the Soviet-Afghan war, which lasted well over nine years. It was during the course of this brutal and protracted conflict that US policymakers realized that there was really no need to shed American blood in order to deal the death blow to the Soviet Union. They drew their lessons from the CIA’s countless ventures in South American “nation building,” where a government’s legitimacy and an opposition’s status as either terrorists or freedom fighters depended on their usefulness for American national interests, often accoutered in pithy terms like the “war on drugs.”

Since the days of Pablo Escobar, however, US foreign policy has shifted its main focus towards the Middle East, where the long-term goal has been to weaken the enemies of Israel and strengthen the enemies of Iran. Other goals are to guarantee American access to oil and other natural resources, to establish military bases and consolidate the network of troops abroad, and to secure arms deals for the one-percenters who preside over what president Eisenhower cautioned his nation about in his farewell address: the “military-industrial complex.” As a consequence of the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Obama administration has shifted its strategy towards aerial and drone only warfare combined with the support and (illusion of) control over local militant factions.

Among the many groups fighting in Syria, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), also known as “moderate rebels,” is the US faction of choice. Much like the bin Laden’s Mujahideen fighters in 1980s Afghanistan, they are armed with the help of the CIA. In spite of their apparent moderation, however, a wealth of evidence suggests that this group is directly responsible for a multitude of massacres, mass executions, the ethnic cleansing of non-Sunni citizens, and eating the hearts of their fallen enemies.

The FSA has also been a suspect in the 2013 Ghouta chemical attacks, which some have claimed the US used as a false flag operation to engender international support for the violent removal of the Syrian government. The subsequent UN investigation however failed to establish any conclusive evidence concerning the perpetrator of the war crime and concluded that the sarin gas used in the attacks had most certainly been removed from government arsenals. Based on this information, US, UK, and French leaders and media outlets insisted that the Syrian government had to be the culprit, and immediately pressed the international community to support an intervention with the goal of eradicating Syria’s alleged arsenal of nerve gas and other potential WMDs. This all begins to sound very familiar. Of course, they also requested the bolstering of the “moderate opposition.” Interestingly, though, the official UN report, “careful not to blame either side,” let on that investigators were actually being accompanied by rebel leaders at all times. Moreover, they repeatedly encountered “individuals […] carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated.” On page 13, the report goes on to state that

[a] leader of the local opposition forces […] was identified and requested to take ‘custody’ of the Mission […] to ensure the security and movement of the Mission, to facilitate the access to the most critical cases/witnesses to be interviewed and sampled by the Mission […].

Recently, Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain have protested that their “moderate rebels” were being targeted unjustly by Russian airstrikes in Syria, complaining that “from their [i.e., the Kremlin’s] perspective, they’re all terrorists.” Sometimes, one is inclined to advise them, it can be wise and healthy to assume an outsider’s perspective and check if your reality still coincides with the facts that so many know are true about the FSA. These facts can be broken down to a very short yet concise formula: If it looks like a terrorist, if it talks like a terrorist, if it behaves like a terrorist—it probably is a terrorist.

Instead, the CIA is still supplying the “activists” with outdated-yet-deadly weapons from Army surplus inventories, including hundreds of BGM-71 TOW (“Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided”) anti-tank missile systems, which the terrorists use against hard and soft targets alike. The same weapon platform can be seen in action in a recent FSA video that shows the destruction of a Russian helicopter that was sent to extract the Russian pilots at the crash site of their downed Su-24 plane on November 24, 2015. On the same day, another US-supplied TOW missile was used in an ambush targeting a car occupied by RT news journalists Roman Kosarev, Sargon Hadaya, and TASS reporter Alexander Yelistratov in Syria’s Latakia province.

The FSA and other groups, branded as “moderates” who fight against the “authoritarian” forces of tyranny (just like a certain “Saudi businessman” back in the day), function as US proxies in Syria, just like al-Qaeda did in the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan War. They are dangerously unstable pawns in a global strategy to secure American and Israeli interests in the Middle East, irrespective of the millionfold suffering and uprooting of entire societies caused by their crimes, the majority of which is directed towards other Muslims.

Commenting on the Russian military intervention at the invitation of the Syrian government, Mr. Obama said that he had no interest in turning this civil war into a proxy war between Russia and the United States, emphasizing that “this is not some superpower chessboard contest.” But this is exactly what US foreign policy, both Republican and Democrat, has done, starting with the end of the Soviet Union and lasting until this very moment. The only difference now being that the Libya-proven rhetorical strategy of (illegal and mandate-less) intervention via “no-fly zones,” “humanitarianism,” and “regime change” did not have the desired effect in Syria because Iran, Lebanon, and Russia did not abandon their ally. Their combined effort succeeded in fending off an unprecedented onslaught of extremists that infiltrated the country, often across the Southern Turkish border, armed with the money of American taxpayers and Wahhabi sheiks.

The Syrian conflict can no longer be described as a civil war. It may have started as one during the ill-fated “Arab Spring” of 2011, when armed “protesters” (i.e., FSA terrorists) murdered several policemen and set government buildings on fire in Daraa, provoking a violent backlash from government forces. The ensuing nationwide chaos was spun by the Western mainstream media troika, namely those media outlets that serve as propaganda tools for the US political and financial elites and who fabricated the myth of the tyrant who massacred peaceful protestors—to be readily sucked up by their indoctrinated clientele.

As a result of the “moderate’s” recent setbacks, the official American position, insofar as its mixed messages can be deciphered, has boiled down to a butt-hurt attitude and passive aggressive lecturing about how to distinguish between varying degrees of moderation among mass-murdering lunatics. Outmaneuvered and publicly exposed, all that is left for Mr. Obama seems to be to pick up the pieces and save some face by accepting Mr. Putin’s offer to join a united front against terrorism in Syria. But such a step seems unthinkable in this ongoing Cold War between Russia and the US. Instead, the most powerful man on earth talks about climate change as the most pressing problem of our times. When it comes to ISIS, he has said he wanted to “contain” them. Meanwhile, tensions are rising as Turkish president Erdogan, on an power trip after his surprising landslide victory in November’s general elections, apparently collaborated with ISIS and risked provoking an NATO Article 5 response by downing a Russian Su-24. On the other side of the equation, Russia’s decision to intervene on behalf of the Syrian government reveals a twofold strategy: On the one hand, trough its direct action it positions the Putin government as being opposed to the fatal logics of proxy warfare. On the other hand, it simultaneously exposes the catastrophic flaws of Mr. Obama’s strategies in Syria and the Middle East.

All these developments do not necessarily mean that we are heading for World War III—although logic dictates that it will happen at some point in the future. In reality, though, a full-on nuclear confrontation would require a massive unraveling of the still sufficiently functional channels of political cooperation and interstate diplomacy. International security and economic communities as well as overlapping alliances like the United Nations, NATO, OSCE, and BRIC all indicate a high level of international integration.

Nonetheless, the geopolitical decisions of the last years herald the start of a new period in political history that indeed corresponds to a Cold War constellation. Particularly US foreign policy is currently undergoing the revival of a more offensive realism, visible in recent demonstrations of power in NATO’s Eastern border states, pushing of the TPP agreement in the Pacific economic area, and aggressive patrolling of the South Chinese Sea. In fact, the avoidance of superpower confrontation at all costs seems to increasingly take a back seat these high-risk maneuvers.

In the late 1940s the first Cold War began as a war of the words when the powers who had together defeated Nazi Germany started to level criticism at their respective global policies. With the help of their media and propaganda sources, their different stances and perspectives solidified and eventually developed into monolithic ideologies. These in turn spawned the geopolitical doctrines that warranted the replacement of any open (i.e., nuclear) confrontation with confined proxy wars as in Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan. A similar erosion of mutual trust, respect, and solidarity is taking place now as the outsourced US-Russian conflicts in Ukraine and Syria remain unsolved. Again, the second Cold War arises as a war of the words while negative sentiments are allowed to petrify and the glacial rhetorics of mistrust and veiled threats gradually begin to replace talk about common interests and cooperation. The influential and policy-shaping Foreign Affairs magazine already struck the right chords of the passive-aggressive Cold War parlance by titling, “Putin’s Game of Chicken: And How the West Can Win.”

At the end of the day, this exact attitude could be one of the reasons why the US might come out on the losing side of this conflict. Because they have not yet realized this is not a “game of chicken” anymore. In fact, this is no longer the same easy game of manipulation that the US played during the 1990s by throwing cheap shots at a collapsing state. The deployment of its air force in Syria is not least a signal to the American establishment that Russia in 2015 no longer stands at the sidelines and watches begrudgingly as the US and its allies commence their disastrous policies in the Middle East.

When Mr. Obama asserted that “this is not some superpower chessboard contest,” he therefore either told a lie or he demonstrated his government’s utter cluelessness with regard to the actual situation and consequences of their actions in Ukraine, Syria, the South Chinese Sea, and other hotspots of the second Cold War. Both possibilities do not bode well for the future.

Steffen A. Wöll is currently enrolled in the American Studies Master’s program at Leipzig University. His research interests include foreign policy, the Middle East, popular culture, as well as radical millennialist and environmentalist movements in the US.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy, History • Tags: Middle East, New Cold War, Russia, Ukraine 
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  1. I vote for 100% lying. Obama has had alot of years to practice. But then that is all american politicians. well, maybe minus a few.

  2. KA [AKA "Carthage"] says:

    “They drew their lessons from the CIA’s countless ventures in South American “nation building,” where a government’s legitimacy and an opposition’s status as either terrorists or freedom fighters depended on their usefulness for American national interests, often accoutered in pithy terms like the “war on drugs.”

    Thank you. In a nutshell, the phenomenon of terrorism and self serving idea of “nation building” have been clarified .

    On a different note -Memory of Checehn terrorism has become somewhat foggy distant and distorted . Checehn terrorist have always enjoyed enormous goodwill and support in Poland,US and UK . But at the onset when Dudayev was the secessionist leader , it was still a unarmed nonviolent political process with mutual (Russian and Checehnyan) disagreement .
    It has been suggested that the same forces who later supported Checehn terrorism also provoked Yeltsin to mount unnecessary attacks on Chechen .

    • Replies: @Taras Gitlerov
  3. Kiza says:

    A nice article by a German (I am guessing). So different then what comes from the US.

    My impression is that the Turkish military intervention under the cover of the US, UK and French airforces in Syria is imminent (within three months or less). The EU already gave Turkey Euro3B, supposedly for the refugees, but probably to pay its military for the attack on Syria.

    It will be most interesting to see if the Iraqi Government will rescind the military forces agreement with US and request both Turkey and US to leave Iraq, then call Russia in to help eject the Turks from Iraq. This may complicate the Turkish military intervention in Syria, but is unlikely to stop it.

  4. When Mr. Obama asserted that “this is not some superpower chessboard contest,” he therefore either told a lie or he demonstrated his government’s utter cluelessness with regard to the actual situation and consequences of their actions in Ukraine, Syria, the South Chinese Sea, and other hotspots of the second Cold War

    Obama is very comfortable with lying. Or better said, Obama is an accomplished liar. ‘Grand Chessboard’ author Brzezinski is still Obama’s man on the inside:

    Brzezinski … in fact acted as the lead political advisor on foreign affairs to President Obama during his 2008 campaign and is still unofficially advising him on foreign policy today

    http://www.mintpressnews.com/zbigniew-brzezinski-the-man-behind-obamas-foreign-policy/21369/

    Good overall assessment. One improvement would be to point out a recent development with revelations it had been Erdogan’s people (Turkey) carried out the 2013 Ghouta sarin gas attack in Syria (blamed on Assad) that killed well over 1,000 ordinary Syrians:

    http://ronaldthomaswest.com/2015/12/07/send-a-letter/

    ^

    • Replies: @Drapetomaniac
  5. “While the Clinton years of domestic prosperity saw the US economy achieve the rarity of a budget surplus,”

    Why do people keep repeating this lie?

    The national debt has INCREASED EVERY YEAR SINCE 1957

    http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt_histo4.htm

    By definition, if the debt has increased, there is no surplus.

    • Replies: @guest
  6. Rehmat says:

    the so-called COLD WAR was a myth. It lasted for nearly 50 years without a direct war between USSR and United States. There is no possibility of WWIII – at least over Ukraine or Syria. Both nuclear powers will agreed-upon their sphere of influence in Eastern Europe and Middle East.

    Don’t forget, both USSR and United States were allies against Nazi Germany, which never threatened United States. It’s all about geopolitics and the survival of their common child, the emerging colonial power of Israel.

    Russia, the US and Ukraine are all controlled by Jewish oligarchs. The US, Russia, Israel and the rest of their poodles are trying to keep Iranian Mullahs out of Syria so that Israel remain the “super power” in the region.

    http://rehmat1.com/2015/10/07/a-new-crusade-against-muslims/

  7. Rurik says:

    Nevertheless, the sheer size of its territory and its command of a substantial nuclear weapon arsenal cement Russia’s role as a primary threat to American national interests.

    national interests?

    or hegemonic agenda of domination of the planet?

    what all of this boils down to is the US and the west are today Israeli’s bitch. That’s why the US destroyed Iraq and that’s why NATO destroyed Libya and they’re working on Syria, because Saddam and Gadhafi were obsticles not friendly to Israel and because Israel wants the Golan Heights, respectively. None of these countries were any threat to America’s interests. Hardly. Any suggestion that they were is ill-informed, or worse.

    This is not a proxy war between the US and Russia. It’s a proxy war between Israel and the rest of the planet, with Israel using the US and NATO as their proxies against Putin’s Russia as the first real obstacle to their hegemonic designs. Resistance had to come from somewhere if we’re not all going to live as Palestinians, and Putin was simply the blade of grass that would not bend to their will, like all the rest of them do since it’s easy to destroy third world countries and send them reeling into the stone age (Afghaistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria..), or even better if they’re controlled by corrupt quisling politicians to begin with (US, NATO,…). Putin may be corrupt, but he’s also a nationalist and actually cares about Russia and has nukes. So that’s why he is the obstacle.

    what’s going on now is Bibi (Zionism) and Putin (sanity and hope for the world) are pretending that this isn’t a proxy war between the two of them. And the rest of the world is pretending too (like this article demonstrates). One day when Bibi and his crew decide that NATO has to go directly to war with Russia in order to achieve their goals, what I suspect will happen is that the pretense will drop, and the men and agendas behind all of these Machiavellian intrigues will be forced out into the open. And I suspect what will happen then is the threat of a kind of reverse Samson Option, with Putin (and the rest of the free world [ironically NOT the dying and corrupt west]) telling Bibi (actually the rabid, ultra-Orthodox Jews in the Knesset who tell Bibi what to do) , that if it comes to NATO vs. Russia, that the first one to go will be the state behind it all.
    Sort of like in those Western movies when the good guy points his shotgun at the guts of the powerful bad guy with all his gunslingers around, and says ‘you’ll get it first’, and then the rich and powerful bad guy says ‘take it easy fellas, holster those guns’. Sort of like that I suppose.

    And the world will enter into a new kind of MAD. And there will be the peace.

    • Agree: Seamus Padraig
    • Replies: @annamaria
  8. Giuseppe says:

    Seymour Hersh absolutely demonstrated that the Sarin attack in Ghouta was a false flag operation, and that the chemical composition of the gas did not match that stockpiled by Syria when analyzed by the UK defense laboratory Porton Down.

    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line

    • Replies: @Nikolai Vladivostok
  9. @KA

    I’m too young to remember coverage of the Chechen wars, but my local library still has several books which paint the Chechens in a sympathetic light.

    The best English language book on the subject is Robert W. Schaefer’s The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus: From Gazavat to Jihad, but it’s expensive and was never in wide circulation AFAIK.

    There’s a lot of weird things about Chechnya that aren’t talked about at all aside from a handful of conspiracy theory type web sites – even though they merit interest. There’s more info on runet but I’m not sure I have the chops to evaluate how good the sources are.

  10. guest says:
    @Bill Jones

    They’re not counting the debt. The debt is something that’s just there and never changes, except to go up. They take it as given. Imagine you’ve had $5,000 in credit card debt for years and receive a $100 bonus from work. You might not even think about using it to pay off your debt. You simply think, “Awesome, I have an extra $100 this week!” That’s pretty much the mindset.

    I’m constantly surprised when I hear people talk about the nation going broke, or specific programs, like Social Security for instance, running out of money. Hello! We’ve been broke for a long time. What do you think the national debt is? As far as SS is concerned, I suppose, it’s pure ignorance of how things work. They think it’s a self-contained system (which what they want you to think, even if that means it’s doomed to go bust, because it tricks people into thinking the Welfare State is part of the social contract, or something). As for the rest of the budget, how do people not notice? Because it’s turned into background noise.

    • Replies: @Bill Jones
  11. attonn says:

    West is too sclerotic to win ANYTHING, let alone another Cold war. Posturing is about all it can afford.

    • Replies: @Cracker
  12. @guest

    I agree. The drive by the establishment for ever increasing immigration is driven their lust to drive wages down but also to maintain the illusion that the various State Ponzi schemes can maintain themselves.

    That the idea that the US and Europe can be turned into comfortable retirement homes staffed and paid for by pleasant and obeisant, productive and well assimilated pig ignorant fleeing peasants is astonishing, yet that’s what we are asked to believe.

  13. Cracker says:
    @attonn

    Posturing and a few fuck ups. Russia has nothing to worry about. Look at the clowns DC sent to Ukraine.

    • Replies: @annamaria
  14. annamaria says:
    @Rurik

    Thanks god that Israel is relatively close to the Russian Federation. At some point, the incessant provocations against Russia could become suicidal for the Israelis. Lets hope that Zionists value their lives more than their quest for mythical Great Israel.

  15. annamaria says:
    @Cracker

    Not so simple. The empire of Federal Reserve will continue demanding a pound of flesh from everyone. The parasitoids have been quite successful at hollowing out the US and they are ready for “doing” Russia. http://thesaker.is/russia-in-an-invisible-war/

  16. Lepanto says:

    “Of the Marxist ideology only insular traces remain today…” You forgot to add the anti-white efforts on college campuses today. These are real and ever present and brush against the grain of Russian and Chinese nationalist efforts as well as a coherent American identity that transcends racial divides including HBD. Richard Rorty’s essay on the “Unpatriotic Academy” is always worth re-reading: http://www.nytimes.com/1994/02/13/opinion/the-unpatriotic-academy.html

    • Replies: @Thirdeye
  17. @Ronald Thomas West

    A good president is one who can lie and be believed.

    • Replies: @Ronald Thomas West
  18. @Drapetomaniac

    A good president is one who can lie and be believed.

    No, that’s merely an accomplished liar, it doesn’t necessarily make a good president. Maybe you’re conflating ‘good’ with ‘effective’

    Does Obama’s lies about the USA upholding ‘the rule of law’ even as he has been much more effective at dismantling (supposedly constitutionally protected) American civil liberties than Bush Jr’s administration, make him a good president? No, it simply makes him effective at dismantling civil liberties, example given.

    Then, Obamacare made #1 on Moyer’s lies list, ahead of Bush & Cheney:

    http://billmoyers.com/content/10-big-fat-lies-and-the-liars-who-told-them/2/

    Wasn’t industry right there to shepherd the process of health care ‘reform’? You bet they were. Did Obama’s lies on healthcare reform make Obama a good president? No, it made him an effective tool for the health industry.

    For those who prefer the satire:

    http://ronaldthomaswest.com/2013/08/22/demons-anonymous/

    ^

    • Replies: @Ronald Thomas West
  19. Thirdeye says:
    @Lepanto

    Those aren’t Marxist. “Cultural Marxism” is a complete misnomer. Dividing the working classes along ethnic lines keeps them impotent. It is a ruling class strategy.

  20. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Actually, in many ways this is a Hot War, not a Cold one…

    Look at the new pattern. The State Dept underwrites and supports a neo-fascist coup on Russia’s border in Kiev. Putin responds by seizing Crimea and abetting the rebellion in the Donbass Region. Sanctions are enforced against Russia, Putin openly provides military assistance to Syria. Now today Putin orders immediate retaliation against any attacks against the Russian military. Meanwhile the US, UK, France and Germany begin military actions in the Syrian Theater, ultimately threatening partition.. Turkey occupies part of Iraq… Iraq requests Russian aid… China weighs in on the Syrian situation.

    This is definitely a path towards escalation, with a genuine chance of military conflict between the Russian/ Iranian/ Syrian forces and NATO forces. That’s HOT… the opposite of Cold War miceo-maneuvers.

    In China, following the US Pivot , and support for Tibetan and Uighur independence, China claims the S. China Sea and starts building island reefs. The US crosses over international boundaries surrounding these islands… again HOT WAR escalation. ..

    with a chance any of these rising conflicts could escalate into a REALLY HOT thermonuclear confrontation, just the way the Cuban Missile did…

  21. @Giuseppe

    It was such a ho-hum effort; the bored, deadpan US officials barely seemed to have convinced themselves. You don’t need an ingenious cloak-and-dagger operation when no one’s paying attention and no one cares.

  22. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Good article. I take it by the description that the author is a graduate student and thus relatively young. If so then they’re starting out quite clear-eyed and objective, things that usually take years of living to acquire.
    The US is an aggressive and expansionist empire and has been so since it consolidated itself continentally, had it’s Civil War, dealt with the internal problem of the Indian population, and then embarked on foreign acquisitions starting with the Spanish-American war where it seized Spanish possessions and inserted itself into Asia via the Philippines. It’s pretty much been on the march since then, always probing for weakness and opportunity to move in. It’s somewhat analogous to the Austro-Hungarian empire, outwardly expansionist even as the stitches holding the seams together started to fray and weaken. They started off boldly but no one in 1914 could foresee what 1918 would look like. Unfortunately the US seems to have some inner momentum driving it thus which doesn’t seem as if it’s path could be altered, at least not in the short run. Many people question how much power the president actually has in being able to effect a change of course. Could be he has less than popularly supposed.
    Most people agree the US is deteriorating internally. A quick and short read would be Sir John Glubb’s ” The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival”, available free on the internet. There’s many points of similarity, it’ll have a familiar ring to it.

    • Agree: Seamus Padraig
  23. […] Source: The Second Cold War – The Unz Review […]

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