In the wake of a New Cold War (Part II)

08/11/2014


Prospective outcomes
Yet it is important to call things by their names, and the collapse in relations between Russia and the West does indeed deserve to be called a new Cold War. The hard reality is that whatever the outcome of the crisis in Ukraine, Russia’s relations with the United States and Europe won’t return to business as usual, as they did after the 2008 Russian-Georgian war.
The crisis in Ukraine has pushed the two sides over a cliff and into a new relationship, one not softened by the ambiguity that defined the last decade of the post–Cold War period, when each party viewed the other as neither friend nor foe. Russia and the West are now adversaries.
Although this new Cold War will be fundamentally different from the original, it will still be immensely damaging. Unlike the original, the new one won’t encompass the entire global system. The world is no longer bipolar, and significant regions and key players, such as China and India, will avoid being drawn in. In addition, the new conflict will not pit one “ism” against another, nor will it likely unfold under the permanent threat of nuclear Armageddon. Yet the new Cold War will affect nearly every important dimension of the international system, and Putin’s emphasis on Russia’s alienation from contemporary Western cultural values will add to the estrangement. Finally, were a security crisis in the center of Europe to escalate, the danger of nuclear war could quickly return.
The collapse of Russia’s relations with the West will not only distort U.S., European, and Russian foreign policy but also inflict serious harm on a broad array of international issues. What still remains of the arms control regime that took Russia and the United States years to build will now largely come undone. The new Cold War has eliminated any chance that Moscow and Washington will resolve their differences over missile defense, a Russian precondition for further strategic arms control agreements. Instead, the two sides will likely start developing new and potentially destabilizing technologies, including advanced precision-guided conventional weapons and cyberwarfare tools.
Meanwhile, the European component of the U.S. missile defense program will now likely take on a specifically anti-Russian character, particularly because the Obama administration reportedly believes that Russia has violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. And it is unlikely that Moscow and Washington will be able to agree on how to place limits on the deployment of major weapons systems in Europe. The new Cold War has also dashed any hopes of strengthening other basic agreements, such as the 1992 Treaty on Open Skies, which regulates unarmed aerial surveillance flights.
For both Moscow and Washington, then, the top priority must be to contain the conflict, ensuring that it ends up being as short and as shallow as possible. To achieve that goal, both sides must carefully study the lessons of the original Cold War. During that conflict, the two sides, despite their bitter rivalry, were eventually able to develop a variety of mechanisms for reducing tensions and containing risks.
The two sides should also stop blaming the other side and instead step back and consider what in their own behavior has contributed to the derailment. The original Cold War’s second lesson is that it was the interaction between the two sides, rather than the actions of only one side, that created the spiral in tensions. In the Ukraine crisis, at least, there is enough blame to go around. The EU was tone-deaf in dismissing legitimate Russian concerns over the failed association agreement with Ukraine. During the unrest in Kiev in February, the United States too quickly abandoned an agreement reached by diplomats on all sides that offered a potential way out of the crisis, promising new presidential elections and constitutional reform. And throughout, Russia has been all too ready to exploit Ukraine’s instability to further its objectives.
At the moment, emotions are running high in Moscow, Washington, and the capitals of Europe, and the confrontation over Ukraine seems to have taken on a momentum of its own. If somehow the Ukraine crisis fades, the intensity of the new Cold War will weaken, but not end. If the crisis in Ukraine deepens (or a crisis elsewhere arises), so will the new Cold War. In other words, Ukraine is central to the direction the confrontation will take, but not everything depends on what happens there. Just like the original Cold War, the new Cold War will play out on many stages, and it will not even begin to be resolved until both sides recognize the high costs of the course they are on and decide to tackle the difficult steps leading to a different path.
As a totality, these differences between the Cold War and any future contest with Russia suggest that while a new “Cold War” may be much shorter, it could nevertheless prove costly and—depending on China’s reaction—it could also have serious long-term consequences for the recovery of the global economy, international security and world political stability./.
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All comments [ 10 ]


Hoàng Lân 8/11/14 10:02

The Russia Bear will never back down and make the U.S. and the West regret in this confrontation, wait and see.

Huy Lâm 8/11/14 10:03

The collapse of Russia’s relations with the West will not only distort U.S., European, and Russian foreign policy but also inflict serious harm on a broad array of international issues.

Hùng Quân 8/11/14 10:06

In Vietnam, we still favor Russia to the U.S. even we must admit that now Russia is weaker than the U.S., not like in the previous Cold War.

Phạm Hiếu 8/11/14 10:08

These war must include roles of China and the EU.

Huy Quốc 8/11/14 10:10

The crisis in Ukraine has pushed the two sides over a cliff and into a new relationship, when each party viewed the other as neither friend nor foe. Russia and the West are now adversaries.

Quốc Cường 8/11/14 10:15

Totally right Pham Hieu, I think China and the EU are now different from the past, they will not stand still to let the U.S. and Russia do what ever they want in this current cold war.

Quân Hoàng 8/11/14 10:16

Although this new Cold War will be fundamentally different from the original, it will still be immensely damaging.

Vân Nhàn 8/11/14 10:18

For both Moscow and Washington, then, the top priority must be to contain the conflict, ensuring that it ends up being as short and as shallow as possible.

Quốc Kiên 8/11/14 10:19

The two sides should also stop blaming the other side and instead step back and consider what in their own behavior has contributed to the derailment.

Lê Tín 8/11/14 10:26

The new Cold War will play out on many stages, and it will not even begin to be resolved until both sides recognize the high costs of the course they are on.

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