By: Adeniruju Treasure
History is a debtor that has lost its share of shame, and it must be repeatedly visited with empty bags that can handle huge lessons. Now that the tensions between Russia and the West rise with the turbulence of tidal waves, the lamentable history of Cold War raps its fingers again on the door of time. The tragedies of the Cold War – a collage of scattered debris from the pieces of World War II –cannot be limited to the granulation of less powerful nations towards hostile sides, but more disdainfully, the graduation from the bipolarity of its first two decades of decadence to the global multi-polarity of the next – believed to have been triggered, most profoundly, by China’s infiltration of Vietnam in 1979, preceded by its 1969 conflict with the Soviet Union; among other economic and political motives.
After Cold-War, the West – particularly the U.S. – hijacked the newly-metamorphosed multi-polar international affairs, and rather than opt to postulate global-order-driven policies, it sought instead to test-run its supremacy on staggering nations with coercion. Apart from U.S.’s 1999 operation in Yugoslavia, the “superpower” also attacked Afghanistan and invaded Iraq in the early 2000’s, making it increasingly difficult to challenge observers who claimed the U.S. was attempting to adjust the Middle East with its self-interested benefits. Consequently, Russia’s refusal to find it out-of-place to conveniently flout the West-centered policies, prompts many American and European leaders to consider Russia as a threat to West’s cherished supremacy; a threat that cannot be left un-dared.
Beyond triggering global sentiments against the U.S., this has equally resulted in unprecedented resistance from Russia and allies, and dwindled the influence U.S. had in many European nations. Worse still, such force strategy forced other militarily strong nations – Russia, especially – to assume opposition against the U.S. Russia’s ire about the West’s – particularly America’s – involvement in Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution and Georgia’s 2003 Rose Revolution. The 2008 Russo-Georgia War, which killed and injured several hundreds and displaced over 200,000 civilians, cannot be considered mild. Hitherto, the territorial disputes between the West and Russia continue to manifest in the Syrian conflict and the internal battles ravaging hundreds in some nations in Africa and Latin America.
Many observers trace the recent tensions to Russia’s Vladimir Putin’s accusations against U.S. in his February 10, 2007 speech; his assertion that U.S was “hiding extra warheads under the pillow.” Accordingly, recent military threats are unmasking worldwide conflicts that put the Kremlin and the White House at the center-stage; setting competition and contentions for power where cooperation could have shunned hostility. What followed? Two-and-half decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, modern Russia – despite its current economic realities – continues to advance its military ordnance depot.
With the implementation of its 2015 defense budget of $66.4 billion, Russia currently possesses 1,399 combat aircraft, 22,550 tanks and 845,000 troops. Similarly, Pentagon alone has recently showcased robots skillful in bomb-defusing and rocket-launching, rocket artillery like the M142 HIMARS that can carry six 227mm rockets, and GPS-guided army tactical missiles. With the $174 million dollar contract its Army signs with Lockheed Martin in May, the U.S. displays its refusal to sit on a keg of gunpowder. If the rising tensions has been only about Russia and the U.S., the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (START I, II, III, New START) and the SORT Moscow Treaty wouldn’t have suffered much betrayals and withdrawals. And except for the third parties, it would have straightforwardly taken a New Cold War shape.
For instance, one cannot briskly rule out China’s tendency to form alliance with Russia, not merely on the basis of geographical proximity, but much more because they share the same side of the equation regarding America’s unilateralism – and generally, the hegemony the West portrays. Both Russia and China have exhibited this collaboration against a “common enemy”: First, the improvements in recent trade engagements between both of them suggest a veritable alternative; especially with the dearth in U.S.-Russia trade relations following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Also, the production and transfer of energy and high-tech apparatuses between both nations further verifies how deeply harmonizing they find each other. But does this invalidate the blooming trade relations between China and the U.S.?
Unlike the Cold War, which was characterized by differing ideological stands between communism and capitalism, the recently rising tensions between Russia and the West are less of ideological conflicts and more of tussles for power and supremacy – between the White House and the Kremlin and, more surreptitiously, about a seemingly-innocent conspiracy against the all-mighty Dollar. Because of its multi-polarity, it differs from the shape the Cold War took. And whether the result of America’s 2016 elections will open a fresh start or a fresh wound, the world is awakening to the fact that a war is being coaled, but maybe not another Cold War.
This commentary by Adeniruju Treasure from Ilesha, Nigeria, was a finalist of the 2016 Nextgen Essay Contest.