Not Your Father’s Cold War

In the international naval operations off Somalia, we see the emergence of a new period in global geopolitics. We can expect Russia to be prominent in it, but this period will be more like the nineteenth-century “Great Game” than the Cold War.

Russian Navy Posture 22 Jan 2009 (U-96 blog)
Russian Navy Posture 22 Jan 2009 (U-96 blog)

A New “Great Game”?


                There is growing concern, particularly among conservative commentators, that the increasingly activist posture of Russia over the last couple of years portends a resumption of the Cold War, which was thought to have ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

                In many cases, commentators see a revival of the Cold War because Russia is again revisiting her familiar Cold War haunts, from naval bases in Libya and Yemen to strong-arm tactics with Ukraine, Georgia, and the “Stans” of Central Asia.  We need to be careful in analyzing these events, however, because the prospect we face today is not our fathers’ Cold War.  We should not expect tensions to escalate across a globe bifurcated by anything as clear-cut as a vast ideological divide with eschatological overtones.  Instead, what we are likely to see is a situation more like that of the period from 1870 to 1945, when a collection of nations among which there was more economic and military parity – and not nearly as much self-conscious political disparity as in the Cold War or the War on Terror — jockeyed against each other, seeking hegemony of regions and control of resources. Continue reading “Not Your Father’s Cold War”