Friday, October 07, 2016

The New Cold War

We are engaged in a new Cold War. Tom Walkom writes:

In the West, the old Cold War was portrayed as a battle between Communist dictatorship and capitalist freedom. Given that Russia has now embraced capitalism, those categories are no longer quite so neat.

As a result, the new Cold War is a little vaguer. It is portrayed as a battle between thuggery and the rule of law — brutality versus niceness.

In this scenario, the U.S. and its allies are said to be the nice ones. Russia, personified in its president, Vladimir Putin, is said to represent brutality.

Calculated brutality is not a new tactic. It's as old as Sherman's March to the Sea: 

Students of the American Civil War will recall Gen. William T. Sherman’s march to the sea through Georgia in 1864, during which his Union army burned crops, slaughtered livestock and laid waste to the Confederate countryside.

As Sherman said at the time, his aim was to make “a hostile people … old and young, rich and poor feel the hard hand of war.”

As a tactic, sometimes it works. It worked for Sherman. Sometimes it doesn't. Carpet bombing Vietnam didn't work. But we miss the point unless we understand what is behind the sound and fury:

The real reason for Russia’s increasing involvement seems to be that Moscow now sees Assad as the only political figure able to keep Syria from falling into chaos.

Syria is not far from Russia’s Caucasus, a region with its own Islamic insurgencies.

More to the point, the chaos in Libya that followed Western military intervention there — as well as the civil strife in Iraq after Washington’s removal of Saddam Hussein — have served as a reminder: Getting rid of dictators can sometimes make things worse.

From time to time, the U.S. has understood this. That’s why, after a brief fling with the reformers of Egypt’s Arab Spring, President Barack Obama threw his support to the coup plotters who now run that country’s brutal military regime.

But for Obama, Assad has been a step too far. Perhaps his brutality is too blatant. Egyptian strongman Abdel Fattah el-Sisi merely executes his political opponents. He doesn’t barrel-bomb them.

It's hard to predict where and when it will all end. Both sides have huge arsenals -- enough to leave Syria completely in ruins. 



Kirby Evans said...

As with most such dualisms, it certainly isn't simple. If only it was the "thuggish" Russians against the upright Americans and its Allies. As with the first Cold War it is increasingly looking like two rogue and thuggish nations vying for power.

Owen Gray said...

It's not as simple as white hats and black hats, Kirby.

Steve said...

Syria and Ukraine are proof that neocons are running American lives. In Ukrainie a democraticly elected but deeply flawed goverment is overthrown, and its a good thing. In Syria a dictatorship is targeted for regime change using Islamic terrorists as the change agent. ISIS is us and this has become entirely clear with the latest prononoucments and desperation to "save" Alleppo.

Owen Gray said...

Our hands are not clean, Steve. But we're not ISIS.

Anonymous said...

All this cold war talk is BS. There was nothing in the media about a cold war until hackers exposed DNC corruption to Wikileaks. Then Hillary tried blaming the Russians as a distraction and suggested Trump was in cahoots with Putin. At the time, Bernie Sanders' supporters were shaking their heads in absolute disgust at the nonsensical suggestion.

Although no Russian connection was ever established, that didn't stop the establishment media from running with the fabrication. (They publish Clinton campaign memes verbatim.) Hillary's talk tough with Russia must have revived some kind of Reagan-era nostalgia among neocon voters she was targeting. So she kept at it.

A month later, a ceasefire brokered by the US and Russia came into effect. Five days later the US "accidentally" bombed Syrian troops killing 63 and injuring 100. That put an end to the ceasefire. So the cold war was back in the saddle.

This is another reason why Trump is far less dangerous than Hillary. He vows to change the channel on all this war-profiteering that has been going on under Bush Jr., Obomba and Clinton (as SoS.) Trump promises to unwind all the aggressive interventionism that's been carried out by on-the-take politicians on behalf of the military industrial complex (which Ike once warned about, but miscreants like Hillary saw as a "business opportunity.")

I know the hystericals say that Trump will start launching nuclear weapons all over the place because he tweets off the cuff. This idea is infantile if one is capable of thinking rationally for a minute. Hillary, on the other hand, is putting the world in an actual jackpot reviving the cold war with Russia, putting the US and Russia in a position where the nuclear codes might actually need to be dusted off.

Hopefully the Americans will be courageous enough to stop Hillary and her bribe-taking super-majority from both sides of the aisle. Establishment corruption is careening out of control. The world can't withstand much more of this "business as usual."

Owen Gray said...

I've said before that Hillary is a flawed candidate, Anon. But we disagree profoundly. You have misread both Trump and Putin.

The Mound of Sound said...

I don't know who your new pet troll is, Owen, but his claim that the Cold War narrative is linked to the hacked DNC emails tells you all you need to know. It seems he wasn't aware of the discussions of this new Cold War going back several years at least as far as the Bush/Cheney march on Moscow. Cold War was inevitable when our side chose to march armoured units, strike aircraft and anti-missile batteries right up to Russia's borders. The Russians, you may recall, paid dearly the last time Westerners massed on their borders. Imagine if Russia deployed similar forces along the Mexican side of the Rio Grande.

And I'll remind your troll that it wasn't "hystericals" who posited that Trump is too flawed to be allowed near the nuclear codes. That came from not one but two open letters signed by a mass of Republican high-ups in America's national security apparatus.

The hysterical part is how this guy doesn't know his ass from his elbow.

Anonymous said...

"Our hands are not clean, Steve. But we're not ISIS."

The US is worse than ISIS. They've murdered more innocent civilians by orders of magnitude. In fact, they created ISIS mass murdering civilians.

Evil is a numbers game, is it not? During WW2 the Nazis were more evil than the Allied forces because they murdered 20 million innocent civilians compared to about a million the Allies murdered. (Razing cities to the ground with incendiary and nuclear bombing, burning women and children alive to death like colossal Medieval 'Acts of Faith'.)

Or perhaps evil is just plain evil. (Whichever way you want to slice it.)

Owen Gray said...

The United States is not one of the Knights of the Round Table, Anon. But it's dangerous to engage in false equivalences. Evil is evil. And critical judgement is essential.

Owen Gray said...

Lately, this blog has been attracting some strange analysis, Mound. It takes all kinds.

thwap said...

Russia is being targeted for the same reason Syria is being targeted. It attempts to be an independent country, not dominated by the USA. The same reason China is being targeted. Libya was targeted. Venezuela is targeted.

It has nothing to do with dictatorship, human rights, human lives, or anything like that.

The USA has, on its own and with its Middle East allies, created ISIS. This is an indisuputable fact. As such it makes Walkolms' confused writings even more depressingly bad.

Owen Gray said...

I agree that American intervention in the Middle East created ISIS, thwap. But their wrong does not make Russia right. Putin is quite capable of the same kind of imperial behaviour.

thwap said...


Russia wouldn't be doing anything were it not for the maniacs in Washington trying to get rid of a secular dictator and replace him with fundamentalist terrorists.

Russia is no longer a super-power. It is stretched to the limit. It has no "ambitions" in the area other than to support an ally and maintain the naval base it has there as a result of this alliance. It is also acting in Syria to prevent yet another base for the fundamentalist terrorists that bother the Russians at home.

I don't like either Putin or Assad. But in this instance, they're the lesser evil. And I'm not even voting for either of them. I'm simply saying that Walkom's essay is the result of confused thinking and, also, that the worst terrorists and monsters in this who sickening episode live in Washington.

Owen Gray said...

I agree that Washington is the cause of so much of this global disruption, thwap. But I read Putin as someone who would like to restore Russia to at least some of its past glory. As Caesar said of Cassius, "Such men are dangerous."

Anonymous said...

This "Mound" doesn't know what he's talking about. Hasn't been following the campaign in detail as I have.

Of course, there has been rising tensions between Russia and the West (America/NATO.) NATO violated a treaty with Russia by encroaching into Eastern Europe. So Russian annexed Crimea in 2014. The Crimeans apparently support it. It's a complex issue.

In any case, the reason the news media is declaring NOW that the cold war has been revived is due directly to Hillary's hawkish talk on Russia which started when the DNC email leak revealed corruption during the primaries. Hillary tried to blame the Russians "for meddling in the presidential election." (A pathetic attempt at distraction.)

She is probably playing the Russian card as a defense strategy in case some more sensitive emails are leaked which she deleted from an illegal email server she had set up, which was (very likely) related to under-the-table Clinton Foundation pay-for-play business. (Which existing leaks have revealed to some extent.)

(Apparently Hillary didn't set up the server very well and the FBI is aware that Russian and Chinese hackers had violated the server. So no one knows if any copies of the deleted emails exist.)

Given current aerial surveillance technology the US has -- which can probably see the whites of the eyes of "enemy combatant" suspects before they (and anyone near them) are blown to bits -- it's virtually impossible for the US to have mistakenly bombed a couple hundred Syrian troops. So this event and Hillary's tough talk are the reason why the cold war has been dug up after a 25-year peace between the nations.

(Hillary's flying monkeys have even attempted to portray Jill Stein an agent of Putin's. They are circulating a picture of Jill Stein having diner at a table at some event in which Putin was sitting at. Ooh scary!)

In any case, Hillary is a hawk on Russia and Syria (for whatever reason) which makes her a much more dangerous choice for president than Trump. (Trump promises to unwind the corrupt US "interventionism" of Bush, Obomba and Hillary, to save on military spending to cut taxes for the rich.)

Owen Gray said...

Apparently, Anon, recent revelations about Trump haven't encouraged you to re-consider your opinion.

Anonymous said...

"Apparently, Anon, recent revelations about Trump haven't encouraged you to re-consider your opinion."

What are the recent revelations about Trump? He was secretly recorded talking boorishly about women 10 years ago? I'm sure back when Bill molested the intern you were outraged and demanded that he be impeached!

This "me generation" of yours is so shallow and vacuous. The Clintons have taken in over $100-million in bribes for actions that can be consider crimes against humanity: from allowing the use of child soldiers in South Sudan to filling private prisons with "super predators", to bombing civilians in various war-profiteering ventures.

So yes, since I have to point out the painfully obvious: Hillary is still a much worse choice for president than the corporate executive whose attitudes on women are no different than former president Bill Clinton's or every single other male corporate executive in America.

If one is going to be outraged about one of the two, Hillary is BY FAR the worst offender.

Owen Gray said...

Shallow and vacuous, Anon? Your defence of Trump is precisely that.