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      Another Cold War?

      The Russian nation and Russian Navy flags are waved at the headquarters of the Ukrainian navy. (Photo: Associated Press, 2014) Haven't the Republicans, the neo-conservatives and the mainstream media been telling us all these years that America won the Cold War? They spoke too soon. From the residue of the old Soviet Union, a new nationalist, nuclear-armed, resource-rich Russia has risen to challenge Western claims of triumphalism. The new Cold War is upon us, and the American elites have no suggestions except to fight it again.

      If asked to take sides, I stand with Pussy Riot. To understand their creative subversion, watch the HBO documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer. But Pussy Riot is a minority thus far, employing a kind of shock and awe on the level of culture. They are backed often by the American elites who would never allow Pussy Riot in, say, South Carolina. 

      That's the home state of slavery, militarism and the US Senator Lindsey Graham. Running against a Tea Party challenger, Graham is not big on naked women in general, even those who brilliantly mock Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church. Graham was quick to advocate this week that we, "create a democratic noose around Putin's Russia." Given the Deep South's lynching history, that was a poor choice of words by Graham, though who can be really sure. His apparent point is that we won't have finished the Cold War until we take Ukraine and choke all of Russia with armed neo-liberal allies of the West. 

      The frequently rational New York Times seemed to legitimate Graham's southern drift, asking on its news pages whether President Barack Obama "is tough enough to take on the former KGB colonel in the Kremlin?" The Times at least noted, "It is no easy task."

       This is another example of what C. Wright Mills called "crackpot realism." Proponents of NATO and corporate neo-liberalism simply are unable to stop pushing against Russia's borders and probing its most cherished regions. They already have incorporated Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia, Poland and the Czech Republic, most of what they call "post-Soviet space." They were repelled militarily when they sought to grab Georgia. That should have satisfied their thirst for full dominance. But they went too far, supporting protests in western Ukraine that toppled the elected government and now are pushing an International Monetary Fund agenda, which will deepen an economic crisis. Even before the current mess, the Kiev government flirted with NATO and sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.  

      The present conflict is very unlike the Cold War in one sense: there is no "communist threat." There are communist partisans in Ukraine of course; hot with their memories of the Nazis and fascists they fought in the Ukraine, and whose descendants now are active in the Western-supported Svoboda Party, which represents over ten percent of the national vote and up to 40 percent in the western Ukraine. 

      What the West faces in the western Ukraine, and in Russia generally, are the powerful nationalist, ethnic cultural and religious currents recently on display in the successful Olympic games. Any western intervention, direct or indirect, incites that vast well of resistance. Outside pressure toughens inside resolve.  

      This is hardly to defend Putin's Russia overall. But the West seems unable to accord the country the significant respect required in coexistence and conflict resolution, and Russia responds accordingly, at times and places of its choosing. 


      For a sane and informative text on Russia over the decades, see Stephen F. Cohen's illuminating Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War, Columbia University Press, 2009.

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      Reader Comments (9)

      I hope you are right about it being a "Cold War". As we approach the 100th anniversary of the
      1st World War, I am not so confident.

      March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoger Cole

      Is Obama who is in the wrong side of History! American government under Obama, following the tradition , is helping right wing Ukraine because is convenient to American Interest. Do people remember when American government supported Taliban(Osama Bin Laden)to kick out Soviet troops from there?! What happened after that is well known.
      People should dig deep about what is hidden behind Obama's support to ultra right,neo nazi groups in Ukraine, that will become puppets of American corporations. Crimea has a very important port to the beautiful Black Sea and an strategic military base...any similitude with American passed actions are not a pure coincidence!

      March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMagnolia Izquierdo

      Correction to my previous post on Ukraine. Nugent is married to the neo-con Kagen.

      March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlice Leuchtag

      Did you heard the news. Kerry in Kiev, offered 1 billions of dollars to Ukraine. 1 BILLION!. I'm sure corporations vultures have already the draft of multimillions dollars contracts.

      March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMagnolia Izquierdo

      This is almost incoherent. You say you support Pussy Riot - and that's the right position - but the rest of your article is realpolitik, and not good realpolitik. What do you mean - the west went "too far" in supporting the protests? Do you know that Pussy Riot supports the uprising in Ukraine 100%, and calls Putin's invasion a "repeat of 1968"? Sadly, it appears that much of the (old) new left is also repeating 1968 - afraid to support the rebellions (in Prague and Kiev) wholeheartedly, because of fear that the CIA might support them too. If you (and I) were 50 years younger and Ukrainian, we'd have spent the last month in the Maidan. What ever happened to "It is right to rebel"?

      And by the way, what does this mean: "Proponents of NATO and corporate neo-liberalism . . . were repelled militarily when they sought to grab Georgia"? Putin severed South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia in 2008 in a five-day war in which NATO, etc. played no role at all.

      Of course the US and NATO will support any dissension in the Russian sphere of influence. Does that mean that we should take the other side? That's the worst of realpolitik.

      Here's a terrific, if perhaps too romantic, article about the Ukrainian revolution.

      March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Clapp

      Imagine if the situation were reversed and there was a similar coup and potential Russian military installation say in Tijuana or in Montreal! We saw what happened in 1962 when it happened in Cuba! US-EU-NATO needs to back off. Best scenario is a neutral Ukraine with both sides pulling back and new free elections in a few months as was agreed prior to this fascist coup in the making.

      March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJon Olsen

      Since the US spent around 5 Billion or more on this "color" revolution, maybe we should look at something in the future: Russia surpassed the petroleum production of the United States in 1901. US: 9,920,000 tons and Russia: 12,170,000 tons At the time, Russia was industrializing at a fast rate. They also did not have a central bank (owned by the banks). So Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan interests bankrolled the Bolsheviks to the tune of millions of dollars. The result was the final wresting of the Crimean oil fields from Russia. Fast forward to 2014. Russia has finally come up with a floating oil platform capable of drilling down in the arctic Lemonov Ridge which contains, according to some oil analysts about 20% or get this - 43 TRILLION dollars, which could make Russia a real super power. The elites that rule the US cannot have that. So the neocon agenda must be followed until we all go up in nuclear smoke or they get control of that 43 Trillion dollar stash. It is that simple. Follow the greedy money.

      March 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShelia Cassidy

      @Alice Leuchtag I think you are referring to Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland who is married to Robert Kagan, one of the founders of PNAC (Project for the New American Century) along with: John Bolton, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, James Wolsey, & Zalmay Khalizad. PNAC is the major group that drove the foreign policy of the Bush administration, which pushed us into the war in Iraq. Nuland is the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. She was recently caught on tape talking to the US Ukrainian ambassador where it becomes evident that the US is actively involved in overthrowing the Ukrainian government and installing people who will be compliant with the US. Her comments about the EU reveal that she was actively undermining the EU's attempts to resolve the conflict. The EU had reached an agreement with President Viktor Yanukovych in which he agreed to hold early elections and agreed to submit to a vote the decision of whether to accept Western aid from the IMF or to accept the Russian offer of aid, the central issue in the rebellion. Even after he accepted the EU's terms, the US continued to support and aid the rebellion.

      March 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEd Fladung

      I'm puzzled by the first part of Tom's paragraph near the end:

      "What the West faces in the western Ukraine, and in Russia generally, are the powerful nationalist, ethnic cultural and religious currents recently on display in the successful Olympic games. Any western intervention, direct or indirect, incites that vast well of resistance..."

      Did he mean "What the West faces in the eastern Ukraine"? That would make more sense.

      March 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJames Smithson
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