Crimea: The era of new Cold War begins

By Ameen Izzadeen
The Ukrainian crisis has dragged the post-Cold War world order from relative stability to instability and from order to chaos. The crisis exploded at a time when a new balance of power was taking root, recognising Russia and China as key power centres.
Although, with the end of the Cold War between the two power blocs led by the United States and the Soviet Union, the bipolar world order gave way to a unipolar world order led by Washington, within a decade or so the power balance moved towards a multi-polar world order. In other words, the equilibrium resulting from the dominance of one nation-state moved to an equilibrium resulting from an unequal distribution of power among several states or groupings. This was not to the liking of the United States although the new multipolar world was bringing some semblance of a balance of power and stability.
The US by its own failings and hubris let the baton of global leadership slip away from its grip. The role of a sole superpower entails duties and responsibilities, with the ultimate objective being global peace and order. Instead, the US ventured on a path to increase its power. Whatever the truth behind 9/11, it became a launch pad for a US campaign to dominate the world through military means.
But while the US was busy implementing its neocolonialist and empire-building project and spending much of its energy and resources on the Middle East, China emerged as an economic and military power. In the meantime, Russia, aided by high oil prices — a result of the US misadventure in the oil-rich Middle Eastern region — came out of its economic mess and regained its composure to act like a superpower, if not a great power. These developments obliterated the unipolar world order and gave rise to a multipolar world, with the European Union and other regional groupings such as the Shanghai Countries Organisation and the BRICS also acting as economic power centres.
The inclusion of Russia in the G-8, a grouping of the world’s top industrial nations, and the G-20 economic summit bringing together the G-8 and the world’s fastest growing economies were signs that a balance of power within a multipolar world order was being established.
There was an understanding that each power centre recognised the other’s security and economic concerns. There was an unwritten agreement not to cross each other’s areas of influence. It was because of this understanding that Russia and China allowed the US to have its way in dealing with issues such as the Yugoslav crisis, the Kosovo war, the global war on terror, the invasion of Iraq, the attack on Libya and Iran’s nuclear programme. Perhaps Russia and China believed that it was to their advantage if the US and the West get bogged down in multiple conflict areas as it would sap the West’s military and economic energies. But whatever it was, there was cooperation and camaraderie that even saw the United States and Russia agreeing to slash their nuclear arsenals.
But parallel to these moves which sought to strengthen an inclusive multi-polar world order where each power centre respected the other’s security concerns, the US continued its moves aimed at dominating the world, thus dealing a blow to the multi-polar balance of power. Washington tried to create an exclusive world order dominated by the United States. Balance of power is understood to be a precarious point between order and chaos. Balance of power, however lopsided it is, ensures relative peace, provided states within the international system agree to respect the status quo or the arrangement of the global power structure. But when one or more countries decide to seek world dominance, the international balance of power breaks down, creating in its wake chaos and instability.
The whole balance of power was shaken to the core when the US and its European allies overthrew a legitimate government in Ukraine and installed a puppet government led by right wing extremists. They showed scant respect for Russia’s security concern, although, prior to the Ukrainian crisis, Russia had warned the West not to violate the unwritten agreement.
One such issue was when the US tried to install anti-missile missile systems in Eastern Europe. Washington shelved the plan when Russia protested. The next major dispute was over Syria where the West and Russia failed to reach compromise. But Russia sees the West’s role in last month’s Ukrainian putsch as the biggest provocation although during the 2008 Georgia war, Moscow had conveyed to the US and its allies that it would not tolerate Nato’s military dominance in Russia’s backyard.
Just as the US and its allies have surrounded China, the West wants Russia surrounded by pro-US countries with links to Nato. The aim of the West is to create political unrest in Russia leading to a putsch, install a puppet government, eliminate Russia’s nuclear arsenal, and prevent a Russia-China security alliance from taking shape. This is why Russia sees the crisis in Ukraine or the intervention of the West in Ukraine as a threat to its very survival and is forced to send troops into Crimea. This is why Putin on Tuesday said, “Russia found itself in a position it could not retreat from,” and warned “if you compress the spring all the way to its limit, it will snap back hard. You must always remember this.”
Just as the US would not tolerate any world power to mess around in its backyard, Russia mistakenly thought that the US would respect Russia’s doctrine of not allowing any world power to infiltrate its backyard.
Sadly, Barack Obama, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for generating hope for peace at a time when war was the norm, is at the helm of affairs when the US is shattering the balance of power and placing the world on the threshold of a nuclear conflict. In this exercise, he exposes the US hypocrisy and double standards. Instead of ridding US policies of hypocrisy or double-standards, the Ukrainian crisis shows that his administration has institutionalised these immoral concepts which only an evil-incarnate would adopt as state principles.
Just read the last paragraph of the the White House statement issued on Sunday soon after Crimea voted overwhelmingly for reunion with Russia. Here it is: “In this century, we are long past the days when the international community will stand quietly by while one country forcibly seizes the territory of another.”
Now which country has supported Israel’s land grab in Palestine and Syria? Which country has used its veto more than 40 times in the United Nations Security Council to protect Israel? Which country sends more than US$ 4 billion of US taxpayers’ money to Israel despite its horrendous violations of international law? The answer is the United States. How come the US does not call Israel a thief just as it called Russia on Wednesday at the UN Security Council?
Then on the referendum issue, the US and the West have dismissed the Crimean people’s verdict to join Russia. But the West has justified Kosovo’s separation from Serbia on the basis of a 1991 referendum. Britain, for instance, justifies its illegitimate occupation of the Falklands/Malvinas islands on the basis of a referendum among the island’s pro-British population.
An attack on the West’s hypocrisy formed a major portion of President Vladimir Putin’s fiery speech to Russia’s Parliament, Duma, on Tuesday. He said:
“This is not even double standards; this is amazing, primitive, blunt cynicism. One should not try so crudely to make everything suit their interests, calling the same thing white today and black tomorrow (…) After the dissolution of bipolarity on the planet, we no longer have stability. Key international institutions are not getting any stronger; on the contrary, in many cases, they are sadly degrading. Our western partners, led by the United States of America, prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun. They have come to believe in their exclusivity and exceptionalism, that they can decide the destinies of the world, that only they can ever be right. They act as they please: here and there, they use force against sovereign states, building coalitions based on the principle “If you are not with us, you are against us.”
“To make this aggression look legitimate, they force the necessary resolutions from international organisations, and if for some reason this does not work, they simply ignore the UN Security Council and the UN overall. (…) We understand what is happening; we understand that these actions were aimed against Ukraine and Russia and against Eurasian integration (…) we have every reason to assume that the infamous policy of containment, led in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, continues today. They are constantly trying to sweep us into a corner because we have an independent position, because we maintain it and because we call things like they are and do not engage in hypocrisy. But there is a limit to everything. And with Ukraine, our western partners have crossed the line, playing the bear and acting irresponsibly and unprofessionally.”
These words indicate that Russia sees an existential threat and is ready to defend itself even if it meant a return to a Cold War. Moscow says it cannot be bullied by the threat of sanctions. Moscow also says the world is not confined only to the West. There are other countries with which Russia can do business.
On the one hand, the world badly needs a counterforce to check the excesses of the United States and the West and expose their deception by which they show bad as good, injustice and justice, and the aggressor as the victim. But on the other hand, confrontational politics may bring the world close to war, possibly a nuclear war. The world’s economic resources will be misused for destructive purposes – to wage war, to produce dangerous weapons and divide people – instead of using them for poverty alleviation, on education and health. The golden mean, however, lies between the two extremes. It is a point where global powers respect each other’s security concerns. Russia appears to be ready for a compromise.
The West precipitated the problem by recognising the putsch led by rightwing neo-Nazi parties, whose members this week beat and forced the head of Ukraine’s national television to resign for telecasting Putin’s landmark speech. So the moral responsibility or the onus for defusing the tense situation in Ukraine and Crimea now lies squarely on the shoulders of the West. But the West has long forgotten what morality is in politics.
(This article first appeared in the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka)

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About ameenizzadeen

journalist and global justice activist
This entry was posted in Political analysis and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Crimea: The era of new Cold War begins

  1. Fayaz Moosin says:

    How do I post this on Facebook ?

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