geoff of Uncommon Misconceptions has been doing an excellent job posting on what can be called the Second Cold War: the efforts of Russia and China to check, hinder, diminish, and threaten America’s influence (or, rather, that of capitalism and The West) just as The Soviet Union tried to do during the First Cold War. I do lament that this is something that has not been on the People’s mind lately. (Although I do know that certain agencies of the government have kept this on their mind, seeing it as a continuation of a traditional threat or issue rather than the resurgence of a new one.)
For more information, please read the following by geoff of Uncommon Misconceptions:
- “The real problem with Iran”
- “More on Iran and its relationships”
- “The Sino-Russian clubhouse, and guess who wants in?”
- His comment on “On the question of more troops – addendum”
Now, let us delve a little into international relations.
To begin with, one must realize that although the First Cold War was motivated and animated primarily by ideology (communism/socialism versus capitalism), it remained in essence a geopolitical matter. Indeed, as some have held, The Soviet Union was but the Russian Empire under a different guise. It may have exploited ideology to export and bolster its “revolution” (in reality, imperialism) against those dreaded capitalists. This reliance on ideology also gave it a substantial boost over The West: many agents working for The Soviet Union supported The Soviet Union with their acts because of their belief in The Soviet Union’s “mission.” Of course, from many of these the reality of The Soviet Union was kept hidden, and those who may have realized it and tried to leave in disgust were retained by other methods (blackmail, seduction, et cetera).
Shortly after the Second World War, the world became polarized. Two superpowers vied for control and influence and supremacy: The Soviet Union and The United States. The world was accordingly divided: the First World (The West and its allies), the Second World (The Soviet Bloc and its allies), and Third World (belonging to neither). But what differentiated The West from the other two Worlds was that whereas the Second World was controlled from Moscow, the First World was not controlled from Washington, DC. The West, under the leadership of The United States, did not set out to colonize its sphere or to establish an empire. The same could not be said about The Soviet Bloc.
The West evidently won the First Cold War. Although the ideological battle had come to an end, with a resounding victory for capitalism, the geopolitical battle continued. Russia (“The Soviet Union” was a myth: it was more of an empire lorded over by Russia) was used to being a superpower and was and is not ready to give that up. But the victory of capitalism meant that Russia had to take seriously the prospect of joining the international state system it had rejected and resisted for so long; and Russia had good reasons to reject and resist it: Russia had no resources that it could use to win clout and influence. Rather than dictating to the world, the world would cause Russia to become weak and dependent. The same with China. Right now, China depends on the world economy without opening up the country to the same. Thus, China does not have to suffer from the negative consequences of the global market.
Russia and China clearly see that in terms of the current international state system and of the world market and economy, Russia and China simply cannot win. In order to preserve their sovereignty and internal integrity, they are playing the same old game once again: expanding their sphere of influence to block and diminish The West’s sphere of influence.
Consider, for example, China’s regional policies. For many years, China has been arming and helping Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other states in the region in order to check and diminish India’s influence. Both India and China want to be the regional superpower, and China is trying its best to prevent India’s rise and to secure China’s superiority. The attacks of September 11, 2001, were a huge blow to China in that this meant the entrance of American/Western forces in what it saw as its sphere of influence. China could not prevent Western forces from entering Central Asia, nor could it prevent close ties between The United States and Pakistan. But it is trying nevertheless to ensure that states in that region do not fall over into The West’s camp, aligning itself (or considering to align itself) against Russia and China.
Russia and China cannot operate directly against The West. It depends on The West too much to risk its wrath and the inevitable economic consequences. Russia and China know, furthermore, that with the establishment of complex interdependence between The West and Russia and China, The West would not harm Russia or China out of a desire not to harm The West’s interests therein. So, for example, The United States depend on China and would not harm China so as not to harm their interests. This way, Russia and China can get away with a lot.
And here is where Iran fits in. Iran is not acting solely for or by itself. Remember that Pakistan is one of China’s proxies: it is quite possible that Pakistan gave crucial assistance to Iran for its nuclear weapons program, under orders or request of China, who itself helped Pakistan with its nuclear weapons program. That Russia and China have assisted Iran with its nuclear weapons program, there is no doubt whatsoever. It is furthermore clear that Russia and China are more than willing to use its disproportionate clout in international regimes (such as The United Nations) and to exploit diplomacy in favor of its proxy Iran. A strong, anti-Western Iran, that furthermore can resist Western and even international pressure and get away with violating its agreements, would be a major boon for Russia and China, particularly considering Western influence in that region of the world.
Speaking of that region in the world, we should not forget that Russia has used The Middle East for decades as an area to wage war by proxy against The West. This complicates The Middle East and its myriads of issues, what with competing proxies warring against each other on behalf of their sponsors.
What really hurts, though, is that we have our guard down. Although the government may be paying attention to this, I do not think we are doing enough to stop Russia and China in their plans. We have used harsh words against Iran: why have we not strongly scolded Russia and China who are assisting Iran? We have thoroughly denounced Hezbollah: why have we not denounced Russia and China that through their proxies rearmed and are rearming Hezbollah? When are we going to take the Second Cold War seriously in the realm of public discourse, diplomacy, international regimes, and rhetoric?
They say that The United Nations was a good mechanism by which The West and The Soviet Bloc were able to diffuse their tensions without having to resort to open and direct warfare. But now Russia and China are exploiting The United Nations to not only promote international anti-Western opposition but also to hinder and obstruct The West. We cannot use The United Nations to do the same against Russia and China.
Rummy’s “old Europe” comment was absolutely disastrous for Russia and its sphere of influence in Europe. We need more open and direct rhetoric so as to disarm Russia and China. We need to cultivate alliances and proxies against Russia and China. And we need to hinder their ability to use proxies against The West.
That we have to fight in the Second Cold War while engaged in the Third World War certainly does not help. But we must fight. Although Russia and China would make logical allies against our enemies in the Third World War, Russia and China are more concerned about their Cold War against The West than Islamo-fascism. Indeed, what with their proxies in The Middle East, they are using the Third World War to further the Second Cold War: and so have to fight on many fronts at the same time, with some fronts being orchestrated by a hand we may not clearly see. We cannot, therefore, afford to stop fighting in one war to focus on the other. They are related and intertwined.
Sad as it may be, in this Second Cold War, Russia and China are once again our international and geopolitical enemies. What are we going to do about it?