The Media wants a new Cold War
We talked in my last podcast about superpowers that recently played major roles in the international political relations. Russia, who exercised its right to retaliate against also the rightful expel of Russian Diplomats from the UK, and the Nuclear crisis in the Korea Peninsula that for years created instability and now miraculously, China is playing a strong but dangerous part in the denuclearization of North Korea. For about four years now, since Russia’s occupation of Crimea and China’s launch of the Belt and Road Initiative, there has been much speculation about whether another Cold War between East and West is coming. In the last month alone, headlines have proclaimed that “The New Cold War Is Here,” or “Putin’s New Cold War,” and warned that “Trump Is Preparing for a New Cold War.” But are we really returning to the past? Contemporary politics is full of false analogies, and the return of the Cold War seems to me to be one of them.
Examples of Media craving for a New Cold War:
At its peak, the Cold War was a global system of countries centered on the United States and the Soviet Union. It did not determine everything that was going on in the world of international affairs, but it influenced most things. At its core was an ideological contest between capitalism and socialism that had been going on throughout the twentieth century. It was a bipolar system of total victory or total defeat, in which neither of the main protagonists could envisage a lasting compromise with the other. The Cold War was intense, categorical, and highly dangerous: strategic nuclear weapons systems were intended to destroy the superpower opponent, even at a cost of devastating half the world.
Today’s international affairs are for sure challenging. It is a party with many different guests, that have different interests, big egos and doesn’t like each other very much. There are also friends and good neighbors, but they are a far cry from Cold War absolutes. Calling twenty-first-century great-power tensions a new Cold War, therefore, obscures more than it reveals. It is a kind of terminological laziness, and incredibly incorrect.
Although many wishes to think that remnant of the Cold War is still with us, the determinants and conduct of international affairs have changed. The good news is that you should not be afraid of another cold war, since using that term to describe modern international politics is stupid, but a far more obscure game is in place, and that is what you should look at carefully.