Americans have short or completely absent memories about contemporary history, in fact anything beyond last year is a blur. So when Vlad Putin drags out neo-Nazis and paramilitary contract thugs to threaten the fledgling government of the Ukraine and we ” just” talk tough, political blather about restarting the Cold War with the “Ruskis” often draws hesitant agreement from the man and woman on the street
Let this child of the 50s and 60s provide a reality check. The Cold War with Russia was about matching nuclear warhead for nuclear warhead, kids hiding under their desks just in case the bombs started dropping, the Cuban Missile Crisis bringing us as close to an end of the world war as possible, and both governments spending trillions and trillions of dollars on new weapons, including Ronald Reagan’s hare-brained idea about putting Star War-like laser missiles in outer space to shoot down Russian ICBMs.
We do not want to start a second Cold War with the Russians, not just because of the cost or the competition or the crisis-mongering that goes with such a strategy, but because we too quickly leave behind the practice of diplomacy, alliance building, economic sanctions, and assistance to those battling the Russians and move quickly to the argument that we need to spend trillions and trillions more on the military to show Putin that we are serious.
All this talk of restarting the Cold War from Democrats and Republicans is really about saving what President Dwight Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex, in short the companies that make their living and fatten their bottom lines by building weapons and weapons related hardware. Through what remains of bipartisan cooperation in Congress and the White House, the budget has been cut, the deficit is in retreat and the economy is on the right track. Now because parts of the world are in chaos and the Russians are behind some of the chaos, the first response by some is to fire up the defense budget, send the fleet in Italy to the Black Sea, put the fighter jets in Turkey on high alert and tell those Marines to prepare to deploy.
Let’s all take a deep breath, remember that the Cold War was a scary and costly period in our history, let the diplomats have their shot at solving problems with the Russians, and in the meantime let Putin know that the western democracies are united against him. He’s a bully and a tyrant, but he also smart enough to know that the economic and political power of the west cannot be ignored.
Believe this child of the 50s and 60s, we don’t want another Cold War.