Russia And The Cold War 2.0 (I)

The Cold War 1.0

It is a pure historical fact that “in a sharp reversal of its withdrawal from Europe after 1918, after the end of World War II Washington employed all available tools of public and cultural diplomacy to influence the hearts and minds of Europeans”[i] as a strategy of the US-led Cold War policy against the USSR,[ii] and after 1991 against Russia up today. Undoubtedly, the US succeeded after 1990 to transform herself into a sole global military-political hegemonic power – an unprecedented case in the world’s history.[iii]

It is usually and generally considered that the end of the USSR and its East European allied states ended the Cold War as a crucial feature of international relations and global politics in the second half of the 20th century. However, in reality, the Cold War was not over in 1989, according to the Western approach, as it was over only its first or original stage and feature (the Cold War 1.0). For 40 years, the Cold War 1.0 as the focal feature in global international politics was fought between the USA and the USSR. However, as the main US’ target in this struggle was not the USSR but, in essence, Russia and as Russia survived after 1989, the US’s administration simply continued the same struggle within the umbrella of a new Cold War or Cold War 2.0. The Cold War 1.0 was the most serious global crisis after WWII as both sides had massive quantities of nuclear weapons and could count on their allies. It is totally wrong arguing that “all that came to an end – completely and completely as a surprise to many – in 1989”[iv] as all that did not come to an end. For instance, the NATO did not come to an end but, oppositely, the NATO is after the Cold War 1.0 in the process of unprecedented enlargement. In other words, the Cold War 1.0 is directly prolonged after 1989 by the US’ warmongers just in a new ideological package. We as well as cannot forget that the Cold War 1.0 started in 1949 by the creation of NATO and, therefore, the Cold War 2.0 will be over when the same organization will be dissolved.

The time of the Cold War 1.0 is also called the Age of Bipolarity when the world was divided into two antagonistic armed camps. The USSR feared the US’s imperialism and that the USA would attempt to restore the Western type of political and economic system in East Europe. On another side, the USA feared that the USSR would overrun West Europe. For those fears, both sides sought to defend themselves by building up alliances. Washington as well as tried to contain the USSR (in fact, Russia) by creating a series of military bases around the Soviet perimeter. The most important of those bases have been the bases for the American nuclear bombers.

During the Cold War 1.0, there were several war cases during which two superpowers could directly go to the conflict:

  1. The 1950−1953 Korean War was the first wargame expression of the Cold War 1.0 which carried out the bipolar struggle between two post-WWII superpowers to Asia-Pacific. Occupied in August 1945 by the Soviet and the American troops, the Korean Peninsula became de facto politically divided. During the war, after initial North Korean military success, the Americans counterattacked under the command of General MacArthur and advanced to the border with China. This move resulted in both the Chinese intervention in October 1950 and a stalemate, which was ended by the armistice of Panmunjom in 1953 and the partition of the peninsula along the 38th[v]
  2. From 1945 to 1954 the people of Indo-China were fighting for its liberation from the French colonial oppression. After the defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the French troops withdraw, but the USA refused to subscribe to the Geneva agreements and built up a counter-revolutionary Government at Saigon under Ngo Dinh Diem. The Second Indo-Chinese War, therefore, erupted from 1957 to 1975. Regardless of massive bombing and deployment of 500.000 troops (including and those from South Korea), the USA failed to break North Vietnamese resistance for freedom and independence. A compromise arrangement in 1973 finally led to the collapse of Saigon in 1975, when the American troops evacuated Vietnam.[vi]
  3. Between 1946, when the British and Soviet troops withdraw from Iran, and 1955, the Middle East was not so much affected by the Cold War 1.0. However, after the 1955 Baghdad Pact, which was seen in the Soviet eyes as a threat to its southern borders, and the 1956 Suez War, the general situation in the region became drastically changed. When the USA intervened in Lebanon in 1958, the USSR came forward in support of Syria. Moscow as well as supported the Arab states against the US-backed Zionist Israel during the Arab-Israeli Wars in 1967 and 1973 and build up its naval forces in East Mediterranean to be a counterbalance to the US’s Sixth Fleet. The Cold War 1.0, nevertheless, divided the Middle East into two antagonistic blocs (the Zionist Israel vs. Arabs) with some formally neutral states who have been trying to keep a balance between these two focal blocs.[vii]
  4. In January 1961, two years after the Cuban Revolution, the US’s administration broke off diplomatic and other relations with the new Cuban Government of Fidel Castro – a leader of the Cuban Revolution. Three months later, an invasion of Cuba by the Cuban exiles from Florida, organized by the CIA, failed. On October 14th, 1962, a US’s monitoring plane discovered the Soviet missiles and missile sites in Cuba, the American President Kennedy proclaimed a “quarantine” of Cuba and warned Moscow that the USA would immediately retaliate against the USSR if the missiles are going to be used. The USSR’s authorities agreed on October 26th of the same year to withdraw the missiles. Nevertheless, the real threat of nuclear war in this particular case was a turning point in the history of the Cold War 1.0.[viii]
Dead communist
Crowd gathered on street to see Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in Des Moines, Iowa, September 23, 1959

However, it turned out that the developments in guidance and delivery systems for the US’s nuclear warheads made the American policies obsolescent in general while at the same time the NATO’s bloc began to loosen, particularly since 1958 when France, under the President General de Gaulle, refused to accept the US’ political leadership, and in 1960 when erupted the Sino-Soviet dispute.

A Post-Cold War 1.0 Global Politics

By NATO’s globally aggressive policy and its eastward enlargement after the official end of the Cold War 1.0 (1949−1989), the Russian state’s security question re-emerged as one of the major concerns in Russia.[ix] However, in fact, for the NATO and its motor-head in the face of the USA, the Cold War is still on agenda of the global arena as after 1990 the NATO’s expansion and politics are directly directed primarily against Russia[x] but in perspective against China as well. Nevertheless, a fact that the NATO was not dissolved after the end of the Soviet Union (regardless on all official explanations why it was not) is the crucial argument for the opinion that the Cold War is still a reality in the world politics and the international relations after 1989 as Cold War 2.0.

Reagan Gorbachev
President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev after signing the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987

It has to be noticed that the USSR was simply dissolved by one man-decision – a General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, who, concerning this matter, made a crucial deal in October 1986 with the US administration at two days bilateral meeting with the US President Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik in Iceland.[xi] It is a matter of fact that the USSR was the only empire in the world’s history which became dissolved by its own Government as the rest of the world’s empires were destroyed either from the outside after the lost wars or from the inside after the bloody civil wars or revolutions.[xii]

There are in our opinion three main hypothetical reasons for M. Gorbachev’s decision to simply dissolve the Soviet Union:

  1. Personal bribing of M. Gorbachev by the Western Governments (the USA and the EC).
  2. M. Gorbachev’s wish to prevent further economic exploitation of Russia’s federal unit by the rest of the Soviet republics that was a common practice since the very beginning of the USSR after the Bolshevik (anti-Russian) (counter)Revolution and the Civil War of 1917−1921.
  3. M. Gorbachev’s determination to transform the Russian Federation, which will first get rid of the rest of the Soviet tapeworm republics, into the economically prosperous and well-to-do country by selling its own Siberia’s natural resources (gas and oil) to the West according to the global market prices.

In order not to spoil very good business relations with the West, the Russian foreign policy since 1991 up to 2000, was totally soft and even subservient to the West to whose mercy Moscow left the rest of the world including and the ex-Soviet republics with at least 25 million of the ethnic Russian population outside the Russian motherland. For the matter of comparison, Belgrade in 1991 also left all other Yugoslav republics to leave the federation free of charge, at least for the second hypothetical M. Gorbachev’s reason to dissolve the USSR, but with one crucial difference in comparison with the Russian case in the same year: the ethnic Serbs outside Serbia were not left at mercy, at least not as free of charge, to the Governments of the newly (anti-Serb and neo-Nazi) proclaimed independent states emerged on the wreck of (anti-Serb and dominated by Croatia and Slovenia) ex-Yugoslavia.[xiii] That was the main “sin” by Serbia in the 1990s and for that reason, she was and still is sternly fined by the West.[xiv]

Russia’s National Identity and State’s Security: From Ivan the Terrible to the Cold War 2.0

Russia’s security and foreign policy after the dissolution of the USSR is a part of a larger debate over Russia’s “national interest” and even over the Russian new identity.[xv] Since 1991, when her independence was formalized and internationally recognized, Russia has been searching for her national identity, state’s security and foreign policy.

The intellectual circles in Russia have debated very much over the content of the Russian national self-identity for centuries. In essence, there were formed two opposite groups and political forces in this matter:

  1. On one hand, there were/are those who believe that the Russian culture is a part of the European culture and as such the Russian culture can accept some crucial (West) European values in its development, as the case of the time of the Emperor Peter the Great (1672−1725)[xvi] This group, we could call them as the “Westernizers”, have never negated the existence of Russia’s specific characteristics as a Eurasian country, but have always believed that staying within the framework of the “Russian spectrum” is equivalent to the national suicide (a “fear of isolation” effect).
  2. However, on another hand, there are those who have tried to preserve all traditional Russian forms of living and organizing, including both political and cultural features of the Russian civilization, not denying at the same time that Russia is a European country too. This, we can name them as the “patriotic” group, or the “Patriots”, of the Slavic orientation, partly nationalistically oriented, have believed and still believes that the (West) European civilizational and cultural values can never be adjusted to the Russian national character and that it is not necessary at all to be done concerning the Russian national interest (a “fear of self-destruction” effect).

A confrontation between these two groups characterizes both Russian history in general and present-day political and cultural development in particular. A very similar situation is, for instance, in Serbia today as the society is sharply divided into the so-called supporters of the “First” (“patriotic”) and the “Second” (“western”) Serbia.

At the moment, the basic elements of the Russian national identity and state’s policy are:

  1. The preservation of Russia’s territorial unity.
  2. The protection of Russia’s interior integrity and her external (state’s) borders.
  3. The strengthening of Russia’s statehood particularly against the Cold War 2.0 NATO’s Drang nach Osten policy.
  4. The protection of the Russian diaspora at the territory of ex-USSR in order not to experience a destiny of the Serbs outside Serbia after the violent destruction of ex-Yugoslavia by the West and their regional client- regimes.

The post-Soviet Russia rejected in the 1990s the most significant element in her foreign policy that has historically been from the time of the Emperor Ivan the Terrible (1530−1584) the (universal) imperial code – constant expansion of its territory or, at least, the position of a power that cannot be overlooked in the settlement of strategic global matters.[xvii]

We have to remind ourselves that the growing power of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, which gained its independence from the Mongols in 1480 under Ivan III, was at first exerted in the east and south-east. Novgorod became subjugated in 1478 and Pskov soon after that. Russia’s conquest of the Khanate of Kazan in 1552 opened the way to advance across the Urals and into Siberia. The conquest of the Khanate of Astrakhan in 1556 gave the control of the Volga River and opened a way to the Caspian Sea. It was the fur trade that tempted enterprising Russian deeper and deeper into Siberia until the Pacific coast was finally reached in 1639 and the Russian hold was established over the whole of North Asia. During the second half of the 17th century, Russia turned her attention to the recovery of West Russia from the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (the Commonwealth of Two Nations according to the Union of Lublin signed in 1569)[xviii] when substantial territorial gains were made up to 1686 as Kiev and the middle Dnieper lands have been liberated and returned back to Russia. The Cossacks of the lower Dnieper transferred their allegiance from Poland to Russia in 1654, and their territory, known as Zaporozh’ye, was legally incorporated into Russia by free-will of its inhabitants.

During the late 16th century and the 17th century, the Russian colonization spread southwards across the Oka River. Nevertheless, the isolation remained one of the focal problems at that time for Russia as it existed a great potential demand for the products of Russia’s forest among Western maritime powers. However, Russia could not profit from those demands because hostile the Kingdom of Sweden, the Ottoman Sultanate, and the Commonwealth of Two Nations (Poland and Lithuania) simply blocked both oversea and overland trade communication system with West Europe. The British merchants opened the northern way to the White Sea and the Russian Emperor Ivan the Terrible established the port of Archangel in 1584. Nonetheless, this seaport was available for the Russian trade only during the short summer season. The Emperor Peter the Great put as his focal task to break through the Baltic and after the Great Nordic War in 1700−1721, which Sweden started, Russia obtained Swedish territory of present-day Estonia and Latvia and at such a way acquiring the medieval Baltic seaport of Riga that was followed soon by the founding another one in the Baltics – St. Petersburg in 1703.

What was done by Peter the Great for the Baltics was achieved in the south by the Russian Empress Catherine the Great (1762−1796).[xix] She fought wars in 1768−1792 which led finally to the destruction of the Khanate of Tatars in the Crimean Peninsula and the substitution of Russian for the Ottoman control along the north shores of the Black Sea, in the Crimea, around the Sea of Azov, and across the adjoining steppes.[xx] The city of Odessa, founded in 1794, soon became for the region of the Black Sea what the city of Archangel was for the White Sea and St. Petersburg for the Baltic Sea – the focal seaport for the Russian exports. From 1772 to 1815 the Russian state’s borders advanced some 960 km at the expense of the Commonwealth of Two Nations. By three waves of partitions (1772, 1793, 1795)[xxi] Russia received the biggest portion of Poland-Lithuania, and after the Napoleonic Wars, the Congress of Vienna agreed to the Russian Emperor Alexander I (1801−1825) to become a King of a reconstituted the Kingdom of Poland (known as the Polish Congress Kingdom) with its own Government and Polish administration.[xxii] As a consequence of the Russian geopolitical influence, Russia became after the Congress of Vienna the strongest Great Power in continental Europe.

Yeltsin
President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Paris in 1997

However, after the Cold War 1.0, Yeltsin’s Russia accepted the US’ global role of the new world’s Third Rome[xxiii] and the US as the only global hegemonic power.[xxiv]  For the matter of illustration, the US has today 900 military bases in 153 countries around the world. A servant position of the Yeltsin’s Russia to the West was clearly proved during the NATO’s barbaric destruction of Serbia in 1999 – a fact which simply legitimized the NATO’s policy of the US’ global imperialism.

Nevertheless, from a historical point of view, it can be said that the US’ imperialism started in 1812 when the US’ administration proclaimed the war to the UK in order to annex the British colony of Canada.[xxv] However, the protagonists of a “Hegemonic Stability Theory” argue that “a dominant military and economic power is necessary to ensure the stability and prosperity in a liberal world economy. The two key examples of such liberal hegemons are the UK during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the USA since 1945”. [xxvi]

To be continued

Reposts are welcomed with the reference to ORIENTAL REVIEW.

Endnotes:

[i] A. Stephan (ed.), The Americanization of Europe. Culture, Diplomacy, and Anti-Americanism after 1945, New York−Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2006, 1.

[ii] D. Junker (ed.), The United States and Germany in the Era of the Cold War, 1945−1990: A Handbook, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

[iii] D. P. Forsythe, P. C. McMahon, A. Wedeman (eds.), American Foreign Policy in a Globalized World, New York−London: Routledge, 2006, 1.

[iv] J. Haynes, P. Hough, Sh. Malik, L. Pettiford, World Politics, New York: Routledge, 2011, 701.

[v] See more in [B. Cumings, The Korean War: A History, New York: Random House, 2011].

[vi] See more in [R. Freedman, Vietnam: A History of the War, New York: Holiday House, 2016].

[vii] See more in [Ch. Herzog, The Arab-Israeli Wars: War and Peace in the Middle East, New York: Random House, 2004].

[viii] See more in [D. Munton, D. A. Welch, The Cuban Missile Crisis: A Concise History, New York, USA−Oxford, UK, 2011].

[ix] About the history of the Cold War, see in [J. Lewis, The Cold War: A New History, New York: Penguin Books, 2005; M. V. Zubok, A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev, The University of North Carolina Press, 2007].

[x] K. W. Thompson, NATO Expansion, University Press of America, 1998.

[xi] J. G. Wilson, The Triumph of Improvisation: Gorbachev’s Adaptability, Reagan’s Engagement, and the End of the Cold War, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014; K. Adelman, Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours That Ended The Cold War, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2014.

[xii] About the end of the USSR, see in [S. Plokhy, The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union, New York: Basic Books, 2014].

[xiii] About different opinions on the nature of Yugoslavia, see in [J. B. Allcock, Explaining Yugoslavia, New York: Columbia University Press, 2000; R. Sabrina, The Three Yugoslavias: State-Building and Legitimation, 1918−2005, Indiana University Press, 2006].

[xiv] About the wars of Yugoslavia’s succession in the 1990s, see in [S. Trifunovska (ed.), Yugoslavia Through Documents: From its creation to its dissolution, Dordrecht-Boston-London: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1994; S. L. Woodward, Balkan Tragedy: Chaos and Dissolution after the Cold War, Washington, D. C.: The Brookings Institution, 1995; R. H. Ullman, (ed.), The World and Yugoslavia’s Wars, New York: A Council on Foreign Relations, 1996; D. Oven, Balkan Odyssey, London: Indigo, 1996; B. Marković, Yugoslav Crisis and the World: Chronology of Events: January 1990−October 1995, Beograd, 1996; J. Guskova, Istorija jugoslovenske krize, I−II. Beograd: Izdavački grafički atelje „M“, 2003; V. B. Sotirović, Emigration, Refugees and Ethnic Cleansing: The Death of Yugoslavia, 1991−1999, Saarbrücken: LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, 2013].

[xv] M. Laruelle (ed.), Russian Nationalism, Foreign Policy, and Identity Debates in Putin’s Russia: New Ideological Patterns After the Orange Revolution, Stuttgart: ibidem-Verlag, 2012.

[xvi] About Peter the Great and his reforms in Russia, see in [L. Hughes, Russia in the Age of Peter the Great, New Haven−London: Yale University Press, 2000; J. Cracraft, The Revolution of Peter the Great, Cambridge, Mass.−London, England: Harvard University Press, 2003; J. Anisimov, Rusijos istorija nuo Riuriko iki Putino. Žmonės. Įvykiai. Datos, Vilnius: Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos centras, 2014, 203−229].

[xvii] About the idea of Holy Russia as a Third Rome, see in [M. R. Johnson, The Third Rome: Holy Russia, Tsarism and Orthodoxy, The Foundation for Economic Liberty, Inc., 2004].

[xviii] Z. Kiaupa, J. Kiaupienė, A. Kuncevičius, The History of Lithuania Before 1795, Vilnius: VILSPA, 2000, 243−251.

[xix] She was of the German Protestant origin converted to the Russian Orthodox faith. About her biography, see in [M. W. Simmons, Catherine the Great: Last Empress of Russia, Make Profits Easy LLC, 2016].

[xx] On Russia and the Eastern Question, see in [Ф. И. Успенски, Источно питање, Београд−Подгорица: Службени лист СЦГ−ЦИД, 2003].

[xxi] I. Kapleris, A. Meištas, Istorijos egzamino gidas: Nauja programa nuo A iki Ž, Vilnius: Briedis, 2013, 174−179.

[xxii] P. R. Magocsi, Historical Atlas of Central Europe, Revised and Expanded Edition, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002, 76.

[xxiii] About the US’ post-Cold War 1.0 imperialism and global hegemony, see in [G. V. Kiernan, America, The New Imperialism: From White Settlement to World Hegemony. London: Verso, 2005; J. Baron, Great Power Peace and American Primacy: The Origins and Future of a New International Order, London−New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014].

[xxiv] N. Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance, New York: Penguin, 2004.

[xxv] H. B. Parks, Istorija Sjedinjenih Američkih Država, Beograd: Izdavačka radna organizacija „Rad“, 1986, 182−202.

[xxvi] A. Heywood, Global Politics, London−New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, 229.

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