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Not Your Fatherís Cold War
National Review Online ^ | March 19, 2014 | Jonah Goldberg

Posted on 03/19/2014 8:39:16 AM PDT by Sherman Logan

The West has forgotten the foreign-policy lessons that predate 1945.

Will everyone please stop talking about a new Cold War?

However badly things work out between Russia and the United States and the West, a new Cold War isn’t in the cards because Russia today isn’t the Soviet Union. Sure, there are similarities. We are in a diplomatic and geostrategic conflict with Russia, which was the heart of the old Soviet Union. Also, Russia wants much of the real estate that belonged to the Soviet Union before it collapsed. And Vladimir Putin is a former KGB colonel who now waxes nostalgic for the good old days. That’s about it.

That’s hardly nothing, but the Cold War was far more than a conflict with Russia. Everyone should agree on that. Communism, anti-Communism, and anti-anti-Communism divided Americans for decades, particularly among academic and media elites. Right and Left may still argue over the merits of those divisions, but no informed person disputes that the topic of Communism — the real version and the imagined ideal — incited riots of intellectual and political disagreement in the West for a half-century. Meanwhile, Putin’s ideology holds little such allure to Americans or the populations of the European Union. With the exception of a few cranky apologists and flacks, it’s hard to find anyone in the West openly defending Putin on the merits. And even those who come close are generally doing so in a backhanded way to criticize U.S. policies or the Obama administration. The dream of a “greater Russia” or a “Eurasian Union” simply does not put fire in the minds of men — non-Russian men, at least — the way the dream of global socialist revolution once did. And that’s a good thing.

What’s less encouraging is that the actual nature of the threat posed by Russia is being obscured or distorted by the talk of a new Cold War. It’s a bit like how for decades, every war was described as “another Vietnam” — at least until the Iraq War, which now seems to be the prism for every potential conflict. “We don’t want another Iraq” is the go-to phrase to justify doing nothing these days.

What is downright dismaying is how the West’s surprising and bloodless victory in the Cold War left us ill-equipped for the world that has taken its place. For many, the understandable hope was that once the Cold War was behind us, a new era would be ahead of us. Neoconservatives envisioned a democratic Pax Americana. Liberal internationalists preferred a new democratic order led by something called “the international community” that would meet over cheese plates and bottled water at the United Nations or The Hague.

Many have called the decade between the fall of the Soviet Union and the attacks of 9/11 a “holiday from history.” The truth is closer to the opposite. The Cold War years, while historic in a literal sense, were something of a great parentheses, a sharp departure from historical norms. Communism was a transnational ideology imposed on nationalist movements. That’s why every supposedly Communist movement eventually became nationalist once in power. Still, the rhetorical and psychological power of Communist ideology, combined with the fear of nuclear war, made international relations seem like a sharp break with how foreign affairs worked before 1945 — or 1917.

It turns out, the Berlin Wall wasn’t blocking us from a new world order, it was holding back the tide of history. Western Europe was especially slow to realize this. Its politicians and intellectuals persuaded themselves that they had created a continental “zone of peace” through diplomacy, when in reality they were taking U.S. protection for granted. They let their militaries atrophy to the point of being little more than ceremonial.

The contrast with Russia and China (not to mention Iran and Saudi Arabia) is amazing. In Moscow and Beijing, they still believe foreign policy is about military and economic power, “spheres of influence,” formal alliances, and political control. In Western Europe (and much of this administration), it’s about moral authority, international norms, and other kinds of “soft power.” Soft power is great, but it’s useless against people who respect only hard power. And that lesson predates the Cold War by a few millennia.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Russia
KEYWORDS: coldwar2; coldwarii; communistgoals; neocon; sovietreunion
I thought this was an excellent article.

I'd like to add that issue IMO this also predates 1945. I greatly doubt Putin has any desire to conquer the world, or even Europe. He's just flexing his muscles against his neighbors, in the way all European powers did prior to 1914.

If those neighbors don't like it, let them develop ways to resist. I find it appalling the number of "conservatives" who think it's somehow our responsibility to protect countries against their neighbors.

I can buy it for the Cold War, with its ideological component that was an existential threat for America, but not for this mess.

This fiasco is neither the Cold War nor the Sudetenland reborn. Trying to squish new (actually very old) conflicts into one of those two paradigms creates and inability to address the actual situation.

1 posted on 03/19/2014 8:39:16 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: Sherman Logan

Jonah does a good job cutting through all the crap surrounding this issue.

People are as over the top fearmongering on this as they are over the top speculating on the missing airplane.

2 posted on 03/19/2014 8:48:16 AM PDT by dforest
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To: Sherman Logan

What he says and what you say have merit. However, he speaks as if communism is past tense. It is still alive although now it is alive in the U.S.A. and isn’t going to go away simply because Mr. Goldberg is trying to wish it away or hide it from anyone.

3 posted on 03/19/2014 8:50:13 AM PDT by spel_grammer_an_punct_polise (What we need is to sucker the fedthugs into a "Tiananmen Square"-like incident on the National Mall!)
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To: Sherman Logan

While Putin is certainly not a nice fellow, I have seen no evidence he has any desire to bring back Communism. He seems more a hard-core Russian nationalist, hell bent on restoring the Russian Empire with himself as the self-proclaimed czar. In this way he is more of a Peter the Great than a Stalin. That doesn’t necessarily mean he is any less dangerous to us and he certainly is no believer in Jeffersonian democracy.

4 posted on 03/19/2014 8:51:45 AM PDT by apillar
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To: dforest
The other major point of this debate is that the U.S. military after its queering, downsizing and feminizing under BO is incapable of confronting Russia in its own backyard even if we thought such a confrontation to be winnable.

It isn't and any BO confrontation with Russia which involves military action would only be launched to temporarily change the topic on what a disastrous administrator BO's team has been.

5 posted on 03/19/2014 8:55:16 AM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: Sherman Logan

The absence of a significant Russian ideology beyond nationalism is an important distinction from the Cold War, but just as important is the absence of any American ideology this time around. We may be witnessing what the Cold War would have been like if only one side wanted to play. My guess is that it will not turn out pretty for America, and that Obama will love that result.

6 posted on 03/19/2014 8:59:45 AM PDT by Pollster1 ("Shall not be infringed" is unambiguous.)
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To: Vigilanteman

We agree on that.

7 posted on 03/19/2014 9:00:20 AM PDT by dforest
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To: Sherman Logan

“Will everyone please stop talking about a new Cold War?”

The cold war NEVER ENDED. Like a cancer it merely went into remission for a few years.

The author is wrong in his assertions. The U.S. MUST rebuild our military presence in Europe to contain the “Soviet Union” that never really went away - it just changed its name. Plus, “Red China” is more dangerous than ever...and must also be contained.

Actually, if our POTUS had a pair he would immediately start giving the Ukraine military aid and put an Airborne Brigade on the ground in Kiev...followed by and supplemented with a heavy brigade (with armor). The heavy brigade will take longer to move. This will send a clear message to Putin that we will not tolerate his land grabs.

8 posted on 03/19/2014 9:05:38 AM PDT by Sola Veritas (Trying to speak truth - not always with the best grammar or spelling)
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To: Sola Veritas

Disagree. Strongly.

The Cold War was about resisting the spread of Communism. It needed to be fought, we did so, and we won.

Putin is not a Communist, and for that matter the Chinese are no longer Communists in any meaningful sense of the term. Neither is trying to subvert other nations ideologically. There is nothing even vaguely resembling the Communist International any more.

The Russian and Chinese threats exist, but they are of a pre-1914 nature, not related to the Cold War. The Great Game of Kipling, if you will, not an ideological struggle.

9 posted on 03/19/2014 9:15:08 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: Vigilanteman

Landgrabbers. Portions of Alaska next, just a little bit. That’s how China is doing it.

10 posted on 03/19/2014 9:16:54 AM PDT by cornelis
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To: dforest
But but but...everything has to be compared to a great conflict of the past or post-apocalyptic literature!

(Seriously, the whole of the interwebs would be better if everyone could go a solid year without referencing Soviets, Nazis, 1984, Brave New World, Ender's Game, or Animal Farm).
11 posted on 03/19/2014 9:18:14 AM PDT by arderkrag (An Unreconstructed Georgian, STANDING WITH RAND.)
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To: arderkrag

...or constant speculation on missing airplanes!

12 posted on 03/19/2014 9:20:25 AM PDT by dforest
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To: cornelis
Google Wrangell Island sometime . . . once a part of Alaska signed over by GOP administrations.

I believe it even hosted a gulag during the Soviet era.

13 posted on 03/19/2014 9:21:57 AM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: Vigilanteman

Title was disputed for some time, but a glance at a map makes it pretty obvious that the notion it’s part of Alaska isn’t very reasonable.

14 posted on 03/19/2014 9:41:34 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: Sherman Logan

I disagree that The Cold War has ended. It has become more and more of an octopus, instead of a ‘bear’.

The Russians have not stopped, even with the ‘fall of Communism’. Red China is still Communist, but has been taking lessons learned from the reclamation of Hong Kong, and its economic diamond. Together, they have become smarter, and have managed quite a few more folks, to be the buzzing bees visible to the bothered countries.

The New Cold War has a resurging Russia, a Red China still working to re-unite Asia under it’s wing, and a Mohammedan nightmare worldwide cult hell-bent on destruction, physical and perceived.

True, some of what is now, was so in 1914. Some of what is happening, is what was so in 1935. The names are different. The scenarios are quite similar.

Russia now, has more of a regal leader, than a Communist, although a lot of the methods of old, i.e., not broke don’t fix, are still employed.

Red China, whatever endeavor that profits them, and expands their roots, will do so, if it fits their long term planning.

The Mohammedans have been playing by the same rule book, as when Jefferson’s Marines beat their pants in days of old. They have just expanded on the world scene, as humanity has done, from the beginning.

15 posted on 03/19/2014 9:44:01 AM PDT by Terry L Smith
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To: Sherman Logan; Neil E. Wright; Travis McGee; Taxman; Jim Robinson; Alas Babylon!
"Communism was a transnational ideology imposed on nationalist movements."

I find it dismaying that while many "communist" countries are heading towards capitalism and quasi-democracy, our own Nation is heading in the opposite direction. I blame it on the 60's generation. Robert Bork's book, "Sliding Into Gommorah" clearly illustrates how the over-indulged 60's Woodstock generation started our downfall into socialism.

First they were kids for love and peace. Naive, but not so bad for teenagers, but then they became educators and continue to teach their communal thinking to the next generations. Slide into Gommarah we did and continue.

As I've stated many times of this and other forums, I personally experienced a commune during the 60's (not a member) and understand why each one failed and don't exist today, other than some Amazon tribes. It all started out as superficial love, peace, comradeship, and shared efforts while developing Utopia on Earth.

After a while, some noticed that others weren't pulling their weight in tilling gardens, maintaining the facilities, while wanting more veggies for less work. Some thought it their right in Utopia. After all, Utopia should be all things to all people. Eventually, the "workers/producers" got fed up with the "non-performing takers" and everyone just drifted away. Does this sound familiar?

What's the two words for the above? FAILED COMMUNISM. It simply astounds me that we have a communist caucus in Congress. Although not highly educated, my commonsense and little knowledge of history always shows it's a failed societal system.

But then, commonsense is a dying characteristic or value, much like honesty, honor, integrity (self honesty when no one's looking), shame, accountability, courtesy, manners, kindness...must I go on about this failing society? I'm so glad I'm rounding the back stretch so as not to see what my once beautiful nation/society will become.

But since I have some years left, I recently bought a 1958 Chevy Impala and will be cruising while listening to Chuck Berry, Elvis, Shirelles, Supremes, Four Tops, Temps, Stones (that always confused my friends - ha), Zepplin, et al. Smell the roses. I didn't really say that...haha.

16 posted on 03/19/2014 10:07:40 AM PDT by A Navy Vet (An Oath is Forever!)
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To: A Navy Vet

Dear Navy Vet,

The author’s line of: “Communism was a transnational ideology imposed on nationalist movements.”, is a very cock-eyed persoanl view. According to the author’s bio, his first published piece appeared in 1998, ten years after The Fall of The Berlin Wall, and during which time, he might have had trouble finding something to use his Schick blade upon.

“I find it dismaying that while many “communist” countries are heading towards capitalism and quasi-democracy, our own Nation is heading in the opposite direction.”

—I find this same unsttling fact true, myself. However, I take exception to the target of your placing blame, and here is why. Woodstock was 1968. The assassination of RFK was 1968. I was a sophomore in high school in 1968, but I am counted among ‘the 60’s generation’. I looked at how America was, and I saw no need for all that changing that was being sought after, by those hippie kids. I shared classes with some students that were those ‘independent learning’ curriculums, i.e., finished the State requirements for college already, but still had to hang out a semester or two to graduate. I heard some of what they said, both from conservatives and the ones I thought were dangerous, i.e., liberals. I had teachers that were U.S. Army interrogators at Nurenburg, U.S. Army armed guards of prisoners in Paris, American R.A.F. pilots, and a colonel who fought through Chatteau-Thierry (sp), and a fellow that came from that language school in San Francisco, where you spoke ‘that’ language, from first day, till you graduated. (Even then, I wondered what he was doing in a school district, where his chosen language (Russian), might have been better served, in a different capacity. A month after my graduation, I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. 13 months after that, I began a 3 year assignment in SouthEast Asia, and then the next 7 years in a Cold War capacity, but I am still counted among ‘the 60’s generation’..

“It simply astounds me that we have a communist caucus in Congress.”
—AS it does me, as well. Maybe the repeal of Anti-Communist Acts of the 1950’s was a bad thing? To think, decorated WW2 veteran gravel-voiced Charley Rangel is on that list!

17 posted on 03/19/2014 12:20:07 PM PDT by Terry L Smith
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To: Vigilanteman

I don’t understand the interest in Wrangel Island—it’s closer to Siberia than to Alaska and has never been under effective US control. If anything we should demand Kolguyev Island—it’s almost as large and much easier to get to (off the Arctic coast of European Russia).

18 posted on 03/19/2014 1:23:28 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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