Mr. Gorbachev... The Cold War Never Ended
On Sunday, the world marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the hated Berlin Wall. For many, this represented the literal and figurative fall of communism, and a “return to normalcy.” The world breathed a sigh of relief thinking that the Cold War was over and we would no longer have to worry about a Soviet threat. The world was wrong.
This past weekend, in an interview, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev proclaimed rather boldly that the West has “succumbed to triumphalism” and that “the world is on the brink of a new Cold War.” He is wrong. We aren’t on the brink of a new Cold War; we’re still fighting the original one.
Theoretically when the wall fell, the Evil Empire that Ronald Reagan had the courage to denounce fell with it, but let’s take a closer look. Russia still continues to bully its way in Eastern Europe, as was clearly demonstrated this past summer in Ukraine. Over 4,000 people are dead because Russia couldn’t stop itself from trying to bring back some of the old Soviet Empire. Their “president” is an ex-KGB agent who is about as presidential as the former Soviet Czars. Anti-American sentiment still flows freely in Russia, helped by a repressive government that goes to great lengths to portray America, and the west in general, as the worst thing this world has ever seen. Free speech? Tell that to the band sent to Siberia for singing it like it is! Russia continues to play an aggressive military game with America. They have flown nuclear tipped bombers 50 miles off the coast of California, over our airbases in Guam, and over parts of Europe. Recently, a Russian submarine was seen in Swedish waters (although never caught). Does this seem like “peace”? How is this not the Cold War? How has anything changed? Sure, the lines on the map have shifted a little. After chaos, corruption, and oligarchy, Russia no longer claims to embrace pure communism, but it is neither free nor capitalist, either. In terms of what matters most – external belligerence towards freedom and democracy – the repressive regime of Moscow is the same as it was back in 1980 at the height of the Cold War.
When the wall fall, America was swept by a giddy fever that the Cold War was over, and America had won. Americans were eager to embrace the possibility of peace. We are a peaceful nation. We don’t like going to war, we don’t like sacrificing our troops, but we will do it when we have to. So we jumped on the chance to have peace with Russia. The events of 9/11 quickly caused us to shift our focus from Russia to enemies that were actually attacking us. This is understandable. However, this was also our undoing. We forgot that it takes two to have lasting, real peace. We’ve signed a few meaningless nuclear treaties with them, that neither side will follow, and we’ve had generally positive relations with them. This is all just a smoke screen. Russia still hates us. Unfortunately, America is only just realizing that in 1989 we may have won Phase One of the Cold War, but that under quibbling and quivering leadership, we are lagging behind in Phase Two.
Sanctions are pointless. We’ve piled them on Russia as our version of “retaliation” for the slaughter in Ukraine. We never learned our lesson with sanctions; they don’t work. They weren’t effective in Iran or North Korea, and they aren’t effective with Russia. Russian tanks are still rolling into Ukraine. Russian armed rebels are still murdering Ukrainians. When Malaysian Airlines flight 17 was shot down this past summer and almost 300 innocent people were killed, America did nothing. We said we were outraged, created some meaningless hashtags, and that was it. This sort of inaction only helps keep the Cold War ball rolling. Russia sees that we aren’t willing to act. They keep pushing forward. Russia is developing new weapons, new missiles, and better delivery systems for nuclear weapons. What are we doing? We’re preaching peace and love while our enemy readies for war.
We can’t keep up this attitude of complacency and indifference. It will only lead to a war for which we will be totally unprepared. Eventually, Russia will do something that even President Obama – or his successor – can’t ignore and America will be drawn into yet another long and bloody war. We need to show Russia that we still see it for what it is: an enemy to freedom. We need to send a strong message to Russia that its aggression won’t go unanswered. As the world’s leading military superpower, the United States has the unique ability, and responsibility, to stop Russia and defend the Eastern European countries that want to have ties to the western powers. As Poland shakes in fear, and Georgia remembers what it was like to have Russia invade, America cannot repeat the mistakes of the past and simply sit by and do nothing. Doing so only sends a message to Putin and his thugs that it is open season for them in Eastern Europe. We need to make our stand against Russia here and now, before it’s too late. The lesson of the Cold War was that we were always ready. That’s a lesson we must re-learn, and fast!
Russia is a threat to America. That’s not ancient Cold War rhetoric. That’s a hard look at global reality. We need to confront them and show that America still stands proud. We can defeat Russia. We’ve done it before, and we can do it again.