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Commentary Last Updated: Apr 3rd, 2008 - 23:49:10

Welcome to the new cold war!
By Joseph M. Cachia
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Apr 4, 2008, 00:32

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�Negotiation in the classic diplomatic sense assumes parties more anxious to agree than to disagree.� --Dean Acheson

There is no doubt that the structural changes in the world over the past two decades have been profound. These include not only the collapse of the Soviet Union (and the end of the balance of power which had provided an equilibrium) but with it the beginnings of a new era.

We are not living in a sound and rational world. A World War III is no longer a hypothetical scenario.

We are today living in a U.S. unipolar world -- a world in which there is one master, one sovereign, one centre of authority, one centre of force and power and one centre of decision making. This has nothing to do with democracy.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States stood tall � militarily invincible, economically unrivalled, diplomatically uncontestable, and the dominating force on information channels worldwide. The next century was to be the true �American century,� with the rest of the world moulding itself in the image of the sole superpower.

How much longer can we tolerate our constantly hearing the language of the unipolar American Empire? All the defunct Empires had their mottoes; the Romans were defenders of civilization, the Spanish were for salvation, the British for the myth of the white man and now the U.S. for freedom and democracy. In spite of all, it is still the same -- a language of power. It is again the turn of a balance of power.

The first nuclear war, in which the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945, so shocked the world that despite the massive buildup of these weapons since then, they have never been used in war again.

During the Cold War, the concept of a �mutually assured destruction� (MAD) was put forth. An understanding of the devastating consequences of nuclear war largely contributed to avoiding the outbreak of war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Today, in the post-Cold War era, no such understanding prevails. The spectre of a nuclear holocaust, which haunted the world for half a century has been relegated to the status of �collateral damage.� Incidentally, world public opinion has its eyes riveted on the cataclysm of �global warming.� World War III on the other hand is not front-page news in spite of it being on the lips of the major architects of U.S. foreign policy from the outset of the Bush regime.

At every opportunity, Russia is showing its return to power, including military. As analyst Alexander Goltz stated; �For the Kremlin it�s very important to retain at least one area where we equal the United States.� Thank goodness! They are showing their strength with bombers, the North Pole flag, etc., but at least they are not making war!

�The United States has overstepped its national borders in every way, and as a result, no one feels safe. . . . .such a policy stimulates an arms race,� warned Vladimir Putin at the European Security Conference.

Last October, following Putin�s visit to Iran and his warning to the United States against any military action there, President Bush issued a stark warning on Iran, suggesting that if the country obtained nuclear arms, it could lead to World War III, in which there might be the involvement of a preemptive nuclear attack.

The unilateral U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, cornerstone of every superpower arms agreement, followed by the U.S.-led war on Iraq, do not help matters. Furthermore, the prospect that the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia might join NATO has greatly angered Russia and still further widened the rift.

Then came the plans to install the missile shield in two former Warsaw Pact states -- provoking Putin�s tirade against �a world in which there is one master, one sovereign, with a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law.� Who is happy with this situation?

From the European angle, the outlook is not much better. The lack of communication between British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Vladimir Putin, during the latter�s legislature, lays bare the scale of the new �Cold War.� Any attempts to bridge the gap had been blocked by a stubborn Downing Street and relations between the two countries have deteriorated drastically. Could it be that Brown is not particularly interested in foreign affairs or at least not the traditional power balances? What price is the West willing to pay for Russian support on global hotspots?

It is very unfortunate that the conventional arms-control pact (CFE-Conventional Forces in Europe), reminiscent of a Cold War-era and looked upon as a cornerstone of European security, has been suspended. Consequently, neither Europe nor Russia is any longer bound by treaty-mandated limits on the size of their conventional weapons arsenals.

Bring in quickly the new Cold War before it�s too late! It may be a blessing in disguise. Couldn�t this be the best solution when a Great Power goes mad?

However, this will not be a return to the past good old days. The real Cold War ended in the storm-tossed seas of Malta in December 1989. One surely remembers the rhyme �From Yalta� to Malta.�

It seems that many analysts in Western political circles have welcomed the return of the Cold War diplomacy. There, however, remains the question of how to win in the present state of Europe�s �increasingly hot peace.�

Maybe a new Cold War will save us from World War III!

�Early and provident fear is the mother of safety.� --Edmund Burke

Joseph M. Cachia resides in Vittoriosa, Malta.

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