Kremlin uses Cold War play book

Russia’s attempt to challenge the U.S.-led unipolar world system in post-Cold War era seems to unite Western countries against the old enemy.

The classical understanding of the Cold War is over, and the world has entered a new political era. However, the rules of the game remain the same. This is to say, what we observe today is an ever-divided world, melting borders and the triumph of a realist school of thought, which stresses the power struggle between the West and the East. The proxy wars have reached their peak, mainly due to the ideological crisis in the post-Cold War world order. Hence, this requires us to scrutinize the past in order to comprehend today’s political conditions and to presuppose the future.

During World War II, the U.S. and the Soviet Union found themselves fighting side by side against the Axis powers. However, this collaboration was very conditional between the two superpowers of the day. After the war, the struggle between the two ideological polar nations of the world had significantly appeared toward establishing the world order. In this regard, the world was shared between the U.S. and the USSR into two laterals. Nonetheless, Soviet communism was perceived as an aggressive totalitarian regime by the U.S., hence the U.S. was reluctant to treat the USSR as a legitimate part of the international community. The lack of trust combined with the security dilemma between the West and the USSR culminated in ideological differences, which reached its climax and put a concrete end on the war-time conditional alliance. As a result, the world found itself in oscillation between capitalism versus communism, democracy versus totalitarianism, and civic state versus military state.

It is imperative to note that, in such a political atmosphere, the main goal of both laterals was to increase the number of their ideological allies, which would expand their sphere of influence around the globe. In this competition between worldviews, the U.S. and the USSR had utilized several methods, including a carrot to attract and a stick to coerce their new candidate countries. However, thisideological competition soon turned into an arms race, which brought the two superpowers to the edge of war in the 1960s. Particularly, when the socialist revolution took place in Cuba, this, in parallel, led the Soviet Union to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles that could be used against the U.S. In retaliation, the U.S. installed Jupiter missiles in Turkey to deter the USSR from using Cuba as a military base. This marked another turning point in terms of accelerating the arms race as an instrument of “deterrence,” in which both sides showed their muscles but never stroked each other. Instead, they used fists of others to cripple each other, as in the cases of Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan.

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