Flawed U.S. Policy Led to New Cold War
Published: April 9, 2014 (Issue # 1805)
The East-West confrontation over Ukraine, which led to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea but long predated it, is potentially the worst international crisis in more than 50 years — and the most fateful. A negotiated resolution is possible, but time may be running out.
A new cold war divide is already descending on Europe — not in Berlin but on Russia’s borders. Worse may follow. If NATO forces move toward western Ukraine or even to its border with Poland, as is being called for by zealous cold warriors in Washington and Europe, Moscow is likely to send its forces into eastern Ukraine. The result would be a danger of war comparable to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.
If NATO forces move near Ukraine, Moscow may invade eastern Ukraine. This could be worse than the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Even if the outcome is the nonmilitary “isolation of Russia,” today’s Western mantra, the consequences will be dire. Moscow will not bow but will turn, politically and economically, to the East, as it has done before — above all, to fuller alliance with China. The U.S. will risk losing an essential partner in vital areas of its own national security, from Iran, Syria and Afghanistan to threats of a new arms race, nuclear proliferation and more terrorism. And — no small matter — prospects for a resumption of Russia’s democratization will be terminated for at least a generation.
Why did this happen, nearly 23 years after the end of Soviet communism, when both Washington and Moscow proclaimed a new era of “friendship and strategic partnership?”
The answer given by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama and overwhelmingly by the U.S. political-media establishment is that President Vladimir Putin is solely to blame. The claim is that his “autocratic” rule at home and “neo-Soviet imperialist” policies abroad eviscerated the partnership established in the 1990s by Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin. This fundamental premise underpins the American mainstream narrative of two decades of U.S.-Russian relations — and now the Ukrainian crisis.
But there is an alternative explanation, one that is more in accord with historical facts. Beginning with the Clinton administration, and supported by every subsequent Republican and Democratic president and Congress, the U.S.-led West has unrelentingly moved its military, political and economic power ever closer to post-Soviet Russia. Spearheaded by NATO’s eastward expansion, already encamped in the three former Soviet Baltic republics on Russia’s border — and now augmented by missile defense installations in neighboring states — this bipartisan, winner-take-all approach has come in various forms.
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