Foreign Policy Blogs

Are Cold War Politics Back?

A new documentary series about the Cold War called Cold War Armageddon is currently being broadcast at a time when a new Cold War may emerge between the United States and Russia. The Clinton campaign pulled no punches in linking hacks to the DNC and within the U.S. Government to Russia, even claiming that President-elect Trump is directly tied to Putin himself.

While the claims about Mr.Trump’s Russia connection have quieted down since the end of the election, the espionage era of the 1980s seems to have reasserted itself to some degree in recent years. With Edward Snowden taking refuge in Russia and the Obama administration being linked to hacking even close allies, including Chancellor Merkel’s private phone, Cold War era politics seem to be familiar once again, but with a lot better gadgets.

In the series Cold War Armageddon, the evolution of the conflict between Americans and Soviets are described in great detail, with a keen focus on the effects the Cold War had on allies of the two superpowers. Intense competition in a global chess match, marked by deadly neutron bombs and mutual assured destruction also showed how leaders were measured and deliberate in their responses to their opponents. SALT I and SALT II treaty talks enabled a reduction in the most deadly of human weaponry in the late Cold War period. These treaty agreements gave rise to further agreements, capping the nuclear threat up until recently.

At the end of October 2016, news reports of the new Satan rocket, the next generation of rockets was revealed. The RS-28 Sarmat, or the Satan II is able to wipe out an area the size of France or Texas and is a further development of the multiple warhead systems that pushed logical minds to the peace table at the time. An accident with such a weapon was likely to happen, evidence of which has come out since the Cold War of several close calls during that era.

While the new Cold War may be more present as a cyber-threat as opposed to a tank melee in the near future, the goals and desired results of U.S. and Russian foreign policy abroad in places like Syria have more commonalities than differences it seems. While Ukraine remains a tense standoff that receives a lot less attention than it deserves, the fight against a common enemy may likely take place initially before the resumption of any Cold War rhetoric in 2017. Measured responses by leaders is extremely important, even more so, the decision to mire a country in a foreign conflict zone must be taken with great contemplation.

Using US-Russia relations as a way to push votes in one or another direction or simply trying to prove who the biggest kid on the block is will likely increase the chances of a more intense Cold War, but will also hinder any agreed upon solutions to other international problems.

The pre-Cold War era may be a better lesson for great powers in 2017, as the Americans, British and Soviets liberated millions of people from genocide and fought against tyranny in Europe. In 2016, that act of simple humanity is difficult to achieve. That is a good place to start new talks between the U.S. and Russia.

 

Author

Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration

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