Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Cold War 2.0/Updated

Posted by Charles II on February 2, 2015

Adam Buckman, Television News Daily:

Call it Cold War 2.0.

“The Americans,” starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, returns for its third season Wednesday (Jan. 28) on FX (at 10 p.m. Eastern). The two play a seemingly typical American couple living in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., who happen to be Soviet spies.

“Allegiance” premieres Feb. 5 on NBC. It’s also about secret spies who live among us. In this show, they live in New York City in the present day. If this show’s premise is to be believed (and I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t), then U.S.-Russian spying today is pretty much the same game that was being played back in the 1980s when Russia was the Soviet Union.

So… who exactly wants Cold War 2.0? Why is Cold War 1.0 a topic of interest a generation after the collapse of the U.S.S.R., and two generations after communism’s failure was obvious? Buckman is an alumnus of the NY Post and Newsmax.

Soviet propaganda was not as ham-handed as some modern U.S. television seems to be. Or, if it was, it was laughed at by the people it was aimed at.

Let’s be clear: Russia is wrong to intervene in the Ukraine. So is the U.S. But Ukraine is not important enough to the U.S. for us to re-start the Cold War. We ordinary Americans can vote with our eyeballs by refusing to watch this stuff that the Great Wurlitzer wants to crank out.
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Added: it is claimedsuggested by a pro-Russian blog that Debaltsevo is near collapse, with the road to Luganskoye as the only exit and under fire by the rebels. I guess we will see if that’s true or not. Kiev is begging Congress for weapons: drones, Humvees, anti-tank weapons. So far, these are not forthcoming. Plus the Kiev army mostly seems to suffer from a lack of morale and training. [Added 2/2: It’s unclear exactly how encircled Debaltsevo is, since one source says that rear-echelon units and staff have been withdrawn down the highway, while another depicts it as completely encircled, with street fighting ongoing.]
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Update: If you can take 90 minutes or some fraction thereof, there’s a fascinating debate between two figures in the Ukrainian conflict here. Click on CC and select English to get subtitles.

One of the figures is “Igor Strelkov,” a Russian veteran of Chechnya and Serbia, who was at the head of the cadre that formed the resistance to Kiev. He reminds me a bit of Col. Richard Juergens, who is everywhere where something important is happening.

The other participant is Nikolai Starikov, a Russian writer with pronounced nationalist leanings and a conspiratorial bent. He also seems unwisely nostalgic toward Stalin. It is a kind of dog and pony show in which both participants are acutely and vocally aware that they could get in trouble with the Russian authorities for saying the wrong thing. So the content is not so interesting as the worldviews that it illuminates.

The primary points at issue are whether Russia should or should not get openly involved, whether this is the prelude to an inevitable major war akin to World War II, and whether the West will attempt a coup against Vladimir Putin. “Strelkov,” the military man, urges greater military involvement by Russia. Starikov urges making haste slowly, arguing that the situation is like the late 1930s, with Ukraine as a kind of bizarro-Spain but a lot closer to Russia’s doorstep, but with some time to prepare for war. Starikov sees the central government as the fount of Russian-ness, and that if that is destroyed, there will be no Russians anywhere in the world. Starikov (correctly) sees the downfall of the Tsar as, in large part, the consequence of unwisely engaging in war, but imagines that if the military had simply obeyed their oath to the Emperor more faithfully, the Russian Revolution would never have happened.

The debate shows at once a world of extraordinary politeness and vituperation, of circumlocution bordering on incoherence and blunt accusation, of paranoia and historical minutiae, of extreme deference to authority and fretting about treason. It could almost be FOX.

For what it’s worth, I think that the arguments that Starikov makes for Russia not getting directly involved are pretty good, while the arguments that Strelkov makes for treating this as a war which Russia can only get out of through military victory are pretty persuasive. I don’t understand why the Russians haven’t trained and armed tens of thousands of pro-Russian Ukrainians and sent Kiev packing. It’s insane hubris on the part of the West, and it’s hard to see it ending well for anyone, especially the people of Ukraine. Even the New York Times has published a modestly sympathetic profile of the rebels.
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Added: Even the liberal Brookings Institute thinks we should get involved in a war against the Russians. Yikes times five.

2 Responses to “Cold War 2.0/Updated”

  1. I keep on trying to think of who benefits in this situation, and it all seems to trace back to the Saudis.

    Their efforts to keep oil prices low aren’t just about hurting frackers in the US and heavy-oilers in Canada and Venezuela. They want to give Putin a knife in the gut, both because of his support for Iran and Syria and as part of their game plan for spreading Wahabi Sunni theocracy around the globe.

    Many of the West’s major players (such as the EU’s members) are going along with this as they don’t want to be too dependent on a single oil source like Putin’s Russia. (Whether it’s a good idea to transfer that dependence to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is another matter.)

    • Charles II said

      I think there’s something to your hypothesis. The alternative explanation is that we have reached the point in supply/demand that small increases in supply knock down price. But if that were true, capping the stripper wells and slowing production from other high-cost producers should cause prices to return to the $80-$100/barrel level pretty soon. I don’t see it happening. Instead, all commodities seem to tanking. And, since Russia doesn’t just export oil, but also gold, coal, copper, aluminum, and fertilizer, the price drops seem to be almost tailor-made to hurt them.

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