James W. Carden
Foreign Policy, History, United States, Russia
“That the United States is now engaged in a fresh Cold War should not really be in doubt.”
Earlier this month, while in Berlin to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Henry Kissinger sat down for an interview with Der Spiegel. Among other things, Kissinger decried a possible new Cold War: “I think a resumption of the Cold War would be a historic tragedy. If a conflict is avoidable, on a basis reflecting morality and security, one should try to avoid it.” Also in Berlin to mark the occasion was Mikhail Gorbachev, who warned that “the world is on the brink of a new Cold War…some say it has already begun.”
That the United States is now engaged in a fresh Cold War should not really be in doubt. That decision was announced not in a major presidential address, as it should have been, but rather stealthily—via a report by Peter Baker in the New York Times in April. It was then that the administration first revealed its intention to isolate Russia.
There are of course some obvious differences between the first Cold War and today’s—the most obvious being that Putin’s Russia does not command suzerainty over Eastern Europe. Instead, much of it belongs to NATO.
That, in a sense, is the good news. Putin’s Russia is not the Soviet Union and pretending that a reconstituted Red Army will be rolling through the Fulda Gap at any moment isn’t going to make it any more likely to happen. But what’s missing, I think, is a vigorous debate about how to approach Putin’s Kremlin. This is anomalous, or at least very different from the previous Cold War.Follow