Opinion Ukraine's 'Back to the Future' scenario: Deploying troops is a Cold War solution
Fears of Russian invasion of Ukraine rises despite US push for diplomacy
U.S. officials are raising alarm that Russian threats of war against Ukraine are spiking dangerously despite the conclusion of a week of diplomatic meetings aimed at avoiding the outbreak of open conflict. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned Thursday that Russia is preparing a "false flag" operation to use as a pretext to launch an offensive against Kyiv on top of its buildup of more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine's eastern border.National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned Thursday that Russia is preparing a "false flag" operation to use as a pretext to launch an offensive against Kyiv on top of its buildup of more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine's eastern border.
Russia tanks roll up to the Ukrainian border and - BAM! - the Cold War lives again. At least it does according to the Washington consensus, and now President Biden is weighing the deployment of thousands of U.S. troops to NATO countries.
Do you remember 10 years ago, when President Obama zinged Republican challenger Mitt Romney during a presidential debate? Romney said Russia was America's biggest threat, and Obama: "The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War's been over for 20 years."
Russia needs to stop clinging to the idea of reviving the Soviet Union, Ukraine ambassador says
"Russia needs to reinvent itself as a modern state," Vsevolod Chentsov, the Ukrainian ambassador to the EU, told CNBC Tuesday. "It's already gone," he said regarding the Soviet bloc which collapsed in 1991.Relations between the Kremlin and its European counterparts hit a low in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine. And it has supported a pro-Russian uprising in the east of the country where low-level fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian troops has continued ever since.Now, U.S.
No one is snickering now. Instead, it is "," which may lead to an unnecessary nuclear war with Russia because we cannot think beyond the 1980s, at least in terms of strategy. Since 2018, experts in U.S. national security circles routinely compare " " to the Cold War (especially the version). Scholars, pundits, journalists, the defense industry and members of Congress habitually describe our strategic competition with Russia and China as "a new cold war." It's become a cliche, one that Chinese President and Russian President . For the latter, the Cold War frame is a diplomatic victory because it supplants the weak Russian Federation with the mighty USSR, a superpower. We unconsciously attribute more power to Putin than he deserves.
Senators wrestle with Russia sanctions as Ukraine crisis deepens
“We should impose those sanctions sooner rather than later, not wait for the invasion to start," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal.With the Biden administration warning that Moscow could launch an offensive against Kyiv at any moment, senators from both parties are hustling to back up their promises of bipartisanship with a legislative response aimed at crippling Russia’s economy if President Vladimir Putin triggers a war in eastern Europe. But despite some positive momentum, Republicans and Democrats have yet to agree on a consensus sanctions plan.
To deal with Putin and others, we must first stop comparing great power competition to the Cold War. The two are fundamentally different. For starters, the Cold War era was pre-email and pre-internet. Life back then is unimaginable to people under 40 today: typewriters, pay phones and airplane smoking sections. Globalization and technology have transformed the way we think, connect and live - in all countries. It also has changed the character of war. Consequently, viewing current events through the lens of past ones is a dangerous trope made by lazy thinkers, invoking that old adage, "Generals always fight the last war, especially if they won it."
Before we refight the Cold War, however, let's exit theand think about how warfare has changed.
First, deterrence no longer works, and we should expect little from putting our troops in harm's way in Eastern Europe. Deterrence was a core pillar of Cold War strategy and now it is as obsolete as an 8-track tape. Our superior armed forces did not deter Russia from taking Crimea in 2014 or invading Georgia in 2008. Nor did it keep Russia from launching expeditionary military operations in the Middle East and Africa since 2015, the first time it had done so since the 1980s. Similarly, the U.S. has deployed multiple aircraft carrier groups to the South China Sea over the past decade, yet it has not stopped China from expanding there. Our threats do not dissuade Iran from developing a nuclear bomb or inhibit terrorist groups. Deterrence is obsolete in modern warfare, yet our Cold War mentality refuses to see it. Evidencing our cognitive dissonance, the Pentagon invented a new buzz phrase to remedy the situation - "" - which is pretty much identical to the Cold War concept. We learn nothing.
Analysis: Neither Joe Biden nor Vladimir Putin can afford to lose their Ukraine standoff
Escalating psychological warfare between the United States and Russia over Ukraine is fast approaching a point at which a peaceful exit from a crisis with real-world ramifications for Americans could be impossible. © Getty Images President Joe Biden, backed by the full symbolic power of the Western alliance, is locked in a showdown with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is using Ukraine as a hostage to try to force the US to renegotiate the settled outcome of the Cold War. Neither man is blinking. To do so may be unfeasible, given the huge political stakes both have wagered.
Second, the world's economies are now intertwined, unlike during the Cold War. Back then, there were two isolated economic blocs, the West and the USSR, and they rarely interacted; consequently, strategies of sanctions, trade wars and other weapons of economic destruction were limited. One Cold War legacy is that "economic warfare" is not taught at our military's war colleges today, even though it has always been a major facet of war. By contrast, now we live under a single economic system of global free trade, and this creates economic interdependence among states. The financial crisis of 2007-2008 started in the U.S. and wrecked several countries' economies. Today, China and the U.S. share a "mutually assured financial destruction" pact, and both would suffer if someone instigated a run on the U.S. dollar. The economic angle of modern warfare presents opportunities and risks to the cunning strategist, something alien to Cold Warriors.
Third, the Cold War was a bipolar system between the West and the USSR. Today, the world is at least "tripolar" and maybe more. Think of polarity as children in a playroom: Kids share and laugh, but sometimes they bully each other and fight over toys. If there are two kids, it's a bipolar play zone, making it easier to establish "the rules" - and when one kid steals a toy, the other always knows who did it. Not so if you have a small brood of rugrats. Agreeing on "the rules" in that case may be impossible, and the guilty can easily blame the innocent for toy theft. With so many suspects, false flag operations become a real threat (some kids are masters at this). Multipolar playgrounds also invite complex alliance structures, as any teacher or parent will attest. The Cold War was a two-kid playground, but today there are three alpha kids, plus a few behind the bushes.
GOP Blames Biden for Russian Aggression. Don’t Forget About Trump.
As Russian President Vladimir Putin lays the groundwork for an invasion into Ukraine, Republicans in Congress have been laying the groundwork to blame President Joe Biden for failing to prevent an attack. But it’s former President Donald Trump, recently retired military officials and diplomats told The Daily Beast, who may bear more responsibility for the looming crisis with Russia than Biden. Trump, whose relationship with Russia has been famously complicated, pushed back on providing aid to Ukraine in 2017. Trump was reportedly resistant to providing the security aid, in part, because he wanted Ukraine to pay the United States back.
Fourth, the world is socially more integrated now, making it more complex to identify someone as "communist" versus "capitalist." Forty years ago, if you heard Russian spoken on an American street, you would turn your head in surprise and suspicion; not only was it rare, but fears of a communist Fifth Column haunted our culture back to the first "Red Scare" in 1917 and to the infamous McCarthy hearings in the 1950s. Now hearing Russian is common; since the fall of the Berlin Wall, countless Russian and Chinese citizens have come to the U.S. to study, live and work, and Americans take no notice. However, there have been some. There is more to war than warfare, and more to warfare than killing. The social dimension matters more today than 50 years ago.
Sending U.S. troops to Eastern Europe is old-think committed by paradigm prisoners of the Cold War. Current geopolitical circumstances and the character of war have changed over the past 50 years. If we model our present too closely on the past, we will doom our future. Yet, every week, pundits, experts and scholars compare great power competition to the Cold War, proffering "lessons learned." We must resist these naïve comparisons. At best, they are a strategic distraction that delays success. At worst, it is "the noise before defeat," to paraphrase a saying attributed to Sun Tzu.
Sean McFate is the author of five books, including ": How America Can Win - Against Russia, China, and Other Threats" (2019). He is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a professor at Georgetown University, and an adviser to Oxford University's Centre for Technology and Global Affairs. He served in the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division.
Biden Says Russian Invasion of Ukraine Could Be 'Largest Invasion Since WWII' .
President Joe Biden again warned Russia of severe consequences if it invades Ukraine, saying the military operation would have worldwide effects.Biden again underscored the gravity of the tense situation at the border between the two Eastern European countries, where Russia has amassed 100,000 troops in possible preparation of an invasion of the former Soviet republic.