The Cold War that never thawed

The political upheavals in Ukraine, and subsequent intervention by the Russian Federation in Crimea have once again brought the ugly specter of war to the attention of discerning people across the globe.  Along with the tension brought by this specter inevitably comes the finger pointing and gnashing of teeth, a classic East versus West match-up played out through various news agencies, online forums, and face-to-face arguments.

-Soldiers

Separatist and Russian troops like these have seized local government centers in Ukraine – a move reminiscent of the Cold War past.

Before picking sides and readying the battle-lines, casual observers like me need to take a step back and ask a simple question.  How did a functioning, albeit slightly impoverished democratic country like Ukraine devolve so quickly into a maelstrom of political depositions and nationalistic violence?  The answer lies in the simple fact that almost nothing has changed since the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. and the supposed end of the Cold War.

According to the Muskovite-based blog “The journal of Arkady Babchenko“:

“Indeed look at this also, even such actions as the beginning of wars and the annexation of the territory of an independent state in the minds of Russians now fully depends on the decision of one man – Putin.  Not Parliament, not the Senate, not a referendum – Putin.”

This is the age old assertion that Russia is overly autocratic and unwilling to compromise with anyone, let alone NATO or the EU.  Of course much the same could be said of Cold War Russia, but they are not the only ones perpetuating this obsolete foreign policy.  That’s right, the United States and her allies are equally to blame for the turmoil which has unfolded.

Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt

Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt touring an opposition camp in December. These two worked to initiate the uprising in Kiev.

In early February evidence surfaced of a telephone conversation between the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt and the Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.  They not only chided the EU for its inability to influence events in Ukraine to their liking but also spoke about their plans for the leaders opposed to then President Yanukovich’s government.  In short, Russia and the U.S. have been up to their old tricks, using smaller, weaker nations as proxies for their ongoing struggle to control international affairs.

However, unlike the archaic days of the Cold War, ordinary citizens now have access to information emanating from both sides of the conflict so that big news is no longer our only source.  Yet, as the U.S. based blog Da russophile aptly points out:

“I assume that most of the people who read this blog agree that a great deal of what might be called the ‘Standard Western Media Narrative on Ukraine’ could better be termed propaganda. That is to say that it is a constructed narrative designed to produce deep-rooted convictions. Or, more bluntly, constructed lies and selected truths designed to shape opinion.”

So tell me, what has changed between 1969 and now?  Russia and the U.S. still maintain the largest nuclear arsenals on the planet and continue to exercise the same international power politics which defined the Cold War era.  My advice to you?  Educate yourself with info from as many angles as possible and don’t buy into the same old good-guy bad-guy routine.  To Putin and Obama?  1989 called, it wants its foreign policy back.

Here is a good blog originating from residents inside Ukraine who are just trying to get on with their lives.  Probably the closest we can get to a down to earth, unbiased perspective on these events.