In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

“New Cold War” fizzles out

Posted by seumasach on March 22, 2014

Cailean Bochanan

22nd March, 2014

We are nearly a week into the “New Cold War” and we haven’t got as far as kicking the Russians out of the G8. At the same time a remarkably laid back Barak Obama has, uncharacteristically for a US president, taken the military option off the table- did Kennedy do that during the Cuban missile crisis at the height of the Cold War?  The West will therefore limit itself to a non-military response. But Western hegemony, the empire, rests entirely on military force as we have seen repeatedly in the last thirty years. To rely on moral authority or diplomatic finesse is to go naked. Legal authority looks equally questionable. The EU has declared the Crimean referendum invalid on the grounds that it runs contrary to the Ukrainian constitution- the same constitution that it trashed by supporting the 22nd February coup in Kiev.

As neocons like Charles Krauthammer unfailingly point out, to prevail in such a crisis you must assert your authority. The West knows that, but what is lacking is the political will, stemming from realism and prudence. It was the ghastly apparition, Clinton, not Obama, who gave the cold war speech this week. In doing so she highlighted Obama’s passivity and, no doubt, launched her challenge for the presidency.

We hear now the claim that the US lacks any strategic thinking at all but is merely making a series of tactical moves to make short term gains. If so, it is very hard to see what these gains are. What have they gained in Libya where they have no control on the ground and, hence, over the oil? What have they gained in Egypt as it returns to the Russian fold as in the days of Nasser. What have they gained in Syria where Assad grows stronger by the day. Where is their alliance against Syria, Iran and Hezbollah now? Do Israel and Saudi, two pillars of US influence in the Middle East, now look confidently to the empire for protection? What has the failed coup against Maduro done for US influence in its own back yard? What about the Euro, which was meant to collapse under the weight of a Wall Street/City of London offensive? Is snubbing the Brits and ending the special relationship part of a New Cold War strategy?

Many observers, especially on the left, see in the United States of America only an empire. But it is also a nation state. Could not this duality at some point become contradictory, even conflictive? If the empire is suffering a steady series of tactical setbacks could not the nation be gaining strategic direction? This duality, by the way, is embodied in the character of John Kerry who veers from hawkish histrionics to debonnaire diplomatic blandishments. Let’s see how he resolves his split psyche when he resumes his dialogue with the very debonnaire Mr Lavrov.

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