Flawed U.S. Policy Led to New Cold War
Published: April 9, 2014 (Issue # 1805)
TheáEast-West confrontation over Ukraine, which led toáMoscowĺs annexation ofáCrimea but long predated it, is potentially theáworst international crisis inámore than 50 yearsáŚ andáthe most fateful. Aánegotiated resolution is possible, but time may be running out.
Aánew cold war divide is already descending onáEuropeáŚ not ináBerlin but onáRussiaĺs borders. Worse may follow. If NATO forces move toward western Ukraine or even toáits border with Poland, as is being called foráby zealous cold warriors ináWashington andáEurope, Moscow is likely toásend its forces intoáeastern Ukraine. Theáresult would be aádanger ofáwar comparable toáthe Cuban missile crisis ofá1962.
If NATO forces move near Ukraine, Moscow may invade eastern Ukraine. This could be worse than theáCuban Missile Crisis.
Even if theáoutcome is theánonmilitary ôisolation ofáRussia,ö todayĺs Western mantra, theáconsequences will be dire. Moscow will not bow but will turn, politically andáeconomically, toáthe East, as it has done beforeáŚ above all, toáfuller alliance with China. TheáU.S. will risk losing anáessential partner inávital areas ofáits own national security, fromáIran, Syria andáAfghanistan toáthreats ofáa new arms race, nuclear proliferation andámore terrorism. AndáŚ no small matteráŚ prospects foráa resumption ofáRussiaĺs democratization will be terminated foráat least aágeneration.
Why did this happen, nearly 23 years after theáend ofáSoviet communism, when both Washington andáMoscow proclaimed aánew era ofáôfriendship andástrategic partnership?ö
Theáanswer given byáthe administration ofáU.S. President Barack Obama andáoverwhelmingly byáthe U.S. political-media establishment is that President Vladimir Putin is solely toáblame. Theáclaim is that his ôautocraticö rule atáhome andáôneo-Soviet imperialistö policies abroad eviscerated theápartnership established ináthe 1990s byáPresidents Bill Clinton andáBoris Yeltsin. This fundamental premise underpins theáAmerican mainstream narrative ofátwo decades ofáU.S.-Russian relationsáŚ andánow theáUkrainian crisis.
But there is anáalternative explanation, one that is more ináaccord with historical facts. Beginning with theáClinton administration, andásupported byáevery subsequent Republican andáDemocratic president andáCongress, theáU.S.-led West has unrelentingly moved its military, political andáeconomic power ever closer toápost-Soviet Russia. Spearheaded byáNATOĺs eastward expansion, already encamped ináthe three former Soviet Baltic republics onáRussiaĺs borderáŚ andánow augmented byámissile defense installations ináneighboring statesáŚ this bipartisan, winner-take-all approach has come inávarious forms.
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