Why the New Cold War is More Dangerous than the Old One

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Why the New Cold War is More Dangerous than the Old One

Written by Ilya Kramnik; Appeared in Bulgarian at A-specto, translated by Valentina Tzoneva exclusively for SouthFront

In recent years, the tension between Russia and the United States (US) has been compared to a modern day Cold War. This comparison is too treacherous: although the level of opposition is far from the levels of the past, the relations between the two countries are much more unstable.

The Effect of the Scale

The comparison of the present day’s events with the events during Cold War times have been common for a long time, but their correctness is questionable, mostly due to the force of the disparate scale of the events.

Thus, when listening to the speeches of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) commanders regarding the activities of the Russian submarines now, compared to the years of the Cold War, one must keep in mind that in 1991, when the USSR was collapsing, the Soviet Navy had at its disposal over 250 submarines, and in the early 80s, there were much more. Today, the Russian Navy has about 60 submarines. Considering these numerical parameters, to speak of a fivefold increase of activities today compared to 25 years ago, is a bit difficult.

The same can be said about the regular flights of Russian interceptors and bombers over aircrafts and ships of NATO armed forces.

A reason for the lengthy discussions in the press arose when a squadron destroyer of NATO approached the Russian coastline and was met by two Russian front bombers. In Cold War conditions, this incident would have simply been standard background; at that time, the real shootings looked significantly different.

***

“The following three days were most impressive for the duration of the passing – wrote Captain Thomas Mercer. Russian airplanes, including TU-95, Il-35 and BE-12, as well as ships and submarines, constantly followed the two air carriers, interfering with their schedule and making the exhausted crew maintain day and night air cover. The air ‘phantoms’ taking off from Japanese airports helped us intercept part of the Soviet bombers. Some of the Soviet crew proved too brave to come close to our machines regardless of the activities of the interceptors.

On the morning of 2nd December, two TU-16 missile carriers approached the aircraft carriers at less than 150 miles, and soon afterwards, two TU-95 airplanes started circling the buffer zone of 180-220 miles north-west with the aim of collecting intelligence.

The crew of the machines was ready to intercept a big group of approaching planes from ‘north north-west’. Admiral Sylvester R. Foully, the Commander of the Pacific fleet, observed it all from the board of the air carrier, ‘Carl Vincent’.

Why the New Cold War is More Dangerous than the Old One

Photo: American air carrier CV 41 ‘Midway’ – US Navy archive

The operators of the radar station fixed the approach of several groups of airplanes, whose number was making up a regiment. Three TU-22 M, two TU-95, nine TU-16 and six Il-38, came closer from different directions, breaking the barrier of the air patrol. ‘Tomcats’ and ‘Phantoms’ got hold of the Russian bombers at the moment of their approach, and the tension decreased slightly.

Without scruples, the next day the Russians appeared again – this time in groups of two TU-95, two TU-16, two Il-38 and two BE-12 – escorted by two interceptors MiG 23 and two SU-15. They started circling around the air carriers at low altitude, forcing us to rise the ‘Tomcats’, which escorted them for two hours.”

This is how episode of the approach of the force unit led by the air carriers ‘Carl Vincent’ and ‘Midway’ to the Soviet coast in the Japanese Sea in November-December 1984 is described in the book, Carrier Warfare.

“The common maneuvers” which, at the time were considered as “sharpening the relations”, took place in sea space covering a region of millions of square kilometres with the participation of tens of ships and submarines, hundreds of airplanes and helicopters and satellite groups.

On land, the confrontations are similar in size. We can look at the following example in order to understand the degree of change: the ground troops of Russia acting today in the huge space from Crimea to Kamchatka, and from the Calks peninsula to Syria and Tajikistan, in numbers and equipment, respond to, let’s say, the number of Soviet troops in Germany in the mid-80s.

The reduction of arms affected another side – the total number of tanks of the Bundeswehr now equals a German tank division from the time of the Cold War.

Yes, of course, the Leopard 2A7 of today has nothing in common with the Leopard 2A2 from 1984; and T-90A is not the T-72A, but in any case, the density of the spread of military units amongst the enemies and the intensity of their actions have decreased considerably.

The same applies for the nuclear missile confrontation, where the number of the strategic and tactical heads from both sides has been reduced from 65 000 in the 80s to less than 10 000 today.

Everything Is Ok?

No. The reduction in the ‘physical’ level of confrontation, the spacing and the reduction of the density of military units, the drastic reduction of armed forces are, regretfully, not a guarantee for security. To believe that “a hot conflict” between Russia and NATO is not going to take place is – alas – naïve; the probability of it happening is greater now than 30 years ago.

The nature of the problem lies in several processes developing in parallel. First, the process of ignoring the “red line”; second, the process of degrading the signal system; the third process, which in many ways is supported by the first two, is the lack of clear understanding of the goals and intentions of the confronting party for both sides. And quite often there is a lack of desire for such understanding.

 

Why the New Cold War is More Dangerous than the Old One

Photo: Tank Leopard 2A5 of Bundeswehr.
Bundeswehr, Wikipedia.org

To ascribe all these sad events to the “ruthless annexation of Crimea” as they do in the West, is incorrect at the very least – the described processes started long before Crimea, even before Vladimir Putin came to power in Russia.

The present-day relations between Russia and NATO are a result of a long road, which started in the 90s in the Balkans and Chechenia, continued with the extension of the alliance, went through numerous and fruitless consultations on issues of anti-missile defense, and finally and logically, finished with the events of 2014-2015.

After all, both sides started to ignore each other and the actions of Russia in the Caucases in 2008, in Crimea in 2014, as well as Russia’s exit from the Contract for Ordinary Military Forces of Europe (COMFE) in 2015, are from a Russian point of view, justified. NATO’s actions are justified from Washington and Brussels’ point of view.

How far can such development of the events go? It’s difficult to say. During the Cold War, situations of direct military confrontation from both sides emerged not only once, which in any case, were resolved with the help of a complex multi-level system of signals and discussions of mutual compromises and critical zones. Moreover, the necessity of compromising became an axiom coded in the relations between Moscow and the US.

Now, the public rhetoric of the West is to speak of Moscow’s interests and opinions, in principle, as those which do not matter, and the only possible step is the refusal to take a position, which (it is possible) could be favourably accepted in any case regarding Crimea.

Regarding the NATO expansion and the problems regarding the anti-missile defense, everything is simpler: the opinion of Moscow, at the starting point, is ignored; while the unavoidable consequences are interpreted as aggressive pressure from the side of the neighbors.

On top of this, a double concept of the Russian military and political machine exists in the American political consciousness: from one side – as a dangerous enemy which is trying to reach the levels of the Cold War; on the other side – an old and low-in-efficiency system which is unable to develop and lacks the ability to preserve its potential for a long time.

Such duality brings dual results – in politics, the image of the enemy gradually comes back as an enemy with whom one must not compromise but wait until it collapses on its own, stimulating the process when possible, including interference in the internal affairs of an independent state.

A considerable role is attributed to the reduction of fear from the possible use of nuclear weapons, for which there are numerous reasons: the improvement of the weapons, which are becoming more ‘cleaner’; the exit from the political stage of generations who remember the results of the nuclear experiments in the atmosphere, and not in last place, the results from studying the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons in Japanese cities in 1945 and the Chernobyl incident in 1986.

The problem becomes more complex due to the catastrophic degradation of the American research potential regarding Russia, which is expressed in the lack of an adequate reference group. Even the Americans acknowledge the decline in the level of American military expertise.

A considerable part of the political elite representing the US regarding Russian potential and political processes, are based on a rather reverse picture of the world, shaped for them by “politically convenient“ correspondents telling the listeners what they would like to hear.

In the past, our military potential and political structure were presented in a similar way to the Third Reich.

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  • Tom Johnson

    “lack of clear undestanding” and “lack of desire too undestand”. Putin scoring 7 goals in a game is proof that Russia has fallen into a “cult of personality”.

    • grumpy_carpenter

      I’ve watched Vladimir Putin play hockey…..no one who understands hockey and has watched him score 7 goals believes he’s a superstar…it’s theater…He knows it, the players know it and Russians know it. Americans don’t get it though, they seem to think Putin is somehow fooling the people. In his career in service to the Russian people and as a political leader he’s very accomplished and that I believe is the source of his popularity

      On the question of “cult of personality” consider Donald Trump. If he didn’t have a rich connected dad he’d be just another used car salesman. He’s been the cause of countless bankruptcy’s and failures, many of them his own and he’s followed by a trail of lawsuits generated by his fraudulent business dealings (yet even with the fraud he manages to bury his own ventures). Yet Americans still believe he’s the Great American Businessman.

      So I ask you who is caught up in a “cult of personality” Russians or Americans?

      • Nexusfast123

        Good observation. American’s don’t ‘get’ other nations and read them wrong. I guess that comes from being ‘indispensable’ and ‘exceptional’ such that they assume they have no need to understand others.

      • watcher12

        The view of the author reveals one serious omission – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Ukraine – these are all in Russia’s back yard even directly on it’s borders – trading partners. Europe is also more a neighbor to Russia than it is to the Americas. There are no visible encroachments into Canada or Mexico by Russia, though it has offered support to Venezuela but no military bases or troops. Even Cuba is being courted by Washington at least marginally. The corporate government of Washington has helped and encouraged businesses to ship their production facilities overseas over the past 40 years to make matters more difficult for people here in non-corporate America. Now Russia has developed economic ties with Asia and is becoming a more unified country. The threat to Washington is economic so … the response is military thru Nato and manipulating a Unkrainian maidan and other ‘color’ revolts around Russia. The ideology of communism is defunct in Russia but not in America as the cold war is no longer with a huge communist bloc – now it is with a huge Washington bloc threatening Russia. Let’s not forget the total media control Washington has over it’s supposedly unified people (no unification here). Washington Corporate would do well to meddle in its own land, support collapsing infrastructure and development in the 50 states and cease meddling where it has no justifiable right. Have we seen reports of Russian destroyers in the Gulf of Mexico? Are there Russian boots on the ground in Belize or Costa Rico? Some serious perspective is in order.

        • Tom Johnson

          Have you ever had a “real” job? Russia an economic rival? Was that a serious statement or a “chrystal” ball forecast? Other than oil what does Russia produce? Even their arms sales are faultering. Without basic GAAP being followed by Russians has caused a mass exodus in foriegn capital compounded by governmental corruption and a series of international crimes ranging from political assassinations to geonicedal military practices – lube your ears and pull your head out.

          • grumpy_carpenter

            “Have you ever had a “real” job?”
            Have you Tom? Your arguments make me think you’re a 13 YO Girl but that could just be a product of the American school system. Americans is among the worlds biggest spenders in education but ranked 27th in math, science and reading. Russia ranks 4th btw and Canada, my country ranks 6th

            “Russia an economic rival?”
            Absolutely for 2 reasons. First Russia is geo-stragically located in the best place on the planet…a country with immense energy, mineral, forestry and water resources located at the heart of Eurasia. The 20th century may have belonged to the USA but the 21st century will belong to the Germany-Russia-China axis. America was essential in the 20th century because at the end of WW1 and WW2 every other industrialized nation was destroyed and near bankruptcy while the USA was untouched….things are very different today, look at a map, look at Eurasia then look at the USA and tell me what the USA has to offer the world that can’t be found somewhere else?

            Second. Russians are better educated than Americans. If the USA is going to be a military superpower based on technology then you better start by cancelling the F-35 program and put the money into public education. You will never maintain a military edge on the world ranked 27th in math and science….perhaps that the reason why the USA has taken 20 years and still can’t achieve combat readiness for the F-35…..20 years….. meanwhile Russia’s pumping out improved air defence systems every few months.

            “Other than oil what does Russia produce?” Metals, precious metals, cereal grains, forestry products all in immense quantities. The more important question isn’t WHAT does Russia produce but WHERS is it located? Answer: between Germany and China in the heart of Eurasia.

      • Tom Johnson

        If an American politician took part in “theatre” as you call it, they would be unmercifully mocked and disgraced. You are a fuqtard.

        • grumpy_carpenter

          Mr. Johnson: If an American politician took part in “theatre” as you call it, they would be unmercifully mocked and disgraced.

          Exactly what I was talking about. Thanks for making it so easy to prove my point.

          Mr. Johnson: “You are a fuqtard.”

          You do realize that you can used fuck on Discus don’t you? No need to be afraid to speak your mind here but next time try an insult that shows you have some wit ….. fuckin Assclown

        • What do you think those golfing vacations are all about?

      • You say that as if they have any other choice. (There’s Jill but in her mental decay Clinton is liable to order her to suffer an accidental demise involving a treadmill)
        It’s more like he’s the only one RICH and CONNECTED enough to not immediately get taken out and brushed under the rug as a ‘tragic and unexpected loss’
        Plus he’s probably got some kind of deadman switch that just dumps piles of blackmail material in the open if he doesn’t get his way. And if he’s really smart, he doesn’t know where it’s kept, one of his kids does, and nobody knows which one.
        He also owns his own plane, so nothing like what happened to Paul Wellstone and Ted Stevens can occur here. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him be the first president to decline the use of Air Force One. “For sentimental reasons” he’ll tell them.

        Plus with her selection of Baraka as running mate they definitely don’t want to chance letting her take control. It would be like an inverted Bush-Cheney, where Blackney uses his newfound political powers to tear down the oligarchy rather than enrich them.

  • Jesus

    Lack of clear understanding and a lack of desire to understand are the attributes of deranged neocons who have lost their sense of reality and are self absorbed into their megalomania.

  • This new cold war is less dangerous. We have alternative media now days for the truth.
    Plus, people hated the Communist Holodomor genocide of 45,000,000 people, and feared it.
    But Russia is not Communist anymore, so people no longer feel the need to oppose Russia.
    Only the Clinton’s, Zionist, Obama’s and Bushes and Jewish world leaders want war with Russia.
    Regular everyday Center and right wing and Libertarian people do not want war against Russia or Iran or Syria. Only left wing Zionist-extremist want war against Russians.

    • Nexusfast123

      You make the mistake of assuming that ‘only the’ have limited means. They do have the means and influence to trigger something. This makes the situation more unpredictable and dangerous. Look at the influence of Soros – who does he own? Who does he pay?

      • Personally I think they’re sinking him on purpose, he IS an old fart after all. His allies kicking him under the bus with these ‘leaks’ have either found their new axe-man within the Clinton Foundation or are searching for them now.
        This also gets their main centre of influence out of europe, which can’t be counted on to always remain pro-israel, and into the US, where all sides believe they can only succeed by continuing to pay lip-service. Better to watch the people Soros had under his control and see how many of them begin seeking positions in the US government!

    • Picapau amarelo

      Holodomor is nothing but a hoax.