Relax, there will be no revival of the Cold War. “The new generation doesn’t believe in a new Cold War,” according to an article in the online version of The National Interest entitled “Debunked: Why There Won’t Be Another Cold War.”
The authors, Matthew Rojansky, the Director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington DC., and Rachel S. Salzman, a Doctoral Candidate in Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, describe themselves as members of the generation which has grown up after the collapse of the Soviet Union, “Russia watchers” who have some experience in diplomacy and have lived and worked in Russia.
The difference between the Cold War and today, say the authors, is the “the profound difference in interpersonal relations.” Russia is no longer a closed society, individuals travel to and from Russia rather freely, and personal relationships can develop between Americans in Russia and Russian citizens. Friendships developed in Russia continue through Facebook and Twitter. “We see each other’s birthdays, children, and family vacations. Our relations with our Russian counterparts are therefore fundamentally deeper and more complex than were those of the previous generation of American and Russian experts.”
The two authores do fear, however, that the “interpersonal connections” which have developed could “atrophy and disappear,” in which case “we really will find ourselves in a new Cold War.”
With all due respect to the authors and their impressive credentials, it is possible to observe that “deeper and more complex” personal relationships do not always lead to positive results. It is also possible to become so invested in individuals that one can become blind to a larger, more ominous reality.
In 2010, the FBI broke up a Russian spy ring which used “interpersonal connections” in an attempt to provide Moscow with influence/control over certain important Americans. The infamous Anna Chapman was a member of the group. (At right, Anna Chapman mug shot).
An FBI official later revealed that one of the female members of the ring was getting too close to a member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet, although the names of the spy and her target have not been revealed. While no one is implying that the authors are in any way compromised, it is true that personal relationships can cause a loss of perspective. That is the point in the use of agents of influence. A personal relationship, manipulated by someone like Chapman, can cause the target to take actions which are harmful to the nation and which would not have been done under ordinary circumstances.
Beyond personal relationships, the following should be considered.
The political elite in Moscow, at least nominally led by Russian president Vladimir Putin, have taken the Crimean peninsula from the nation of Ukraine. There are no second thoughts or regrets in this move, in point of fact, it is a matter of pride. Commenting upon the military operation in Crimea, Admiral Igor Kasatonov, former commander of the Black Sea Fleet and Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy (retired) boasted that Russia carried out its military operations in Crimea under the nose of NATO intelligence, using a sardonic phrase we translate from the Russian as NATO “missed all that was possible and impossible [to miss].” (Scornful Kasatonov at left).
From the Baltic Sea to the Kuril Islands (taken from Japan by the Soviet Union in the last days of WWII and still not returned), from the Arctic to Ukraine, Russian forces are training for, preparing for, and in the case of Ukraine, actually involved in war. State-of-the art tanks, submarines, and military aircraft are in production or on the drawing boards. Russia has a de facto military alliance with China, and is planning to establish air and naval bases in the Western hemisphere.
Eastern Europe fears the new Russian aggressiveness, and Japan sees not only Russian troops on the Kuril Islands, but also the Russian Pacific fleet staging exercises with the growing naval forces of the Peoples Republic of China.
The military buildup comes as nostalgia for the old Soviet Union continues to grow in Russia, and even the Soviet dictator and mass murder Joseph Stalin is regaining a high degree of respectability.
Putin’s admiration for the old Evil Empire is well known, and his esteem for Communism, the Soviet ideology, was further demonstrated by the national honor he gave last year to the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Gennady Zyuganov. Putin awarded the Order of Alexander Nevsky to Zyuganov for “achievements [in] labor progress, significant contributions to socio-economic development of the Russian Federation, [and] the implementation of the foreign policy of the Russian Federation.” The “foreign policy of the Russian Federation” includes the strengthening of ties to the Communist states of Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Nicagragua, the Peoples Republic of China, and with the fanatical, soon to be nuclear, Islamic nation of Iran.
In addition to the award, Putin also presented to Zyuganov a statuette of Vasily Chapaev, a Bolshevik whom Soviet leaders presented as a model of Communist valor. (See also: A Putin Kind of Communism at http://www.inatoday.com/rus_zyuganov_putin20140630.htm). (Chapaev statuette).
It is true that the “old” Cold War will not return. We are, however, in a new rivalry with Moscow and its allies, where war is an increasing threat. The Kremlin’s propaganda tools are more congenial, but the stakes remain life and death, as the widow of murdered opposition leader Boris Nemtov can attest.
It is apparent that relaxation is not warranted. Whether it is called a new Cold War or a new phase of the same Cold War, the United States is facing a formidable challenge to its national existence. We all must be alert, vigilant, and prepared – even the “new generation.”
[Westerman exposes the Marxist nature of the Kremlin elite in UNCOVERING THE COMMUNIST STRATEGY OF TODAY’S RUSSIA, available at www.inatoday.com.]