The Cold War never really ended—recent developments in Crimea show that the U.S.-Russia rivalry is still alive and well.
Russian-American relations can be characterized as a cat-and-mouse game. From the Truman Doctrine to the Korean War, every time Russia has tried to acquire political influence, the United States has responded by increasing its own power.
The U.S. never directly confronted its intrinsic fear of communism until the end of the Second World War, when a clash of opposing ideologies broke out. With that, the end of WWII marked the beginning of an ongoing battle between capitalism and communism.
Crimea is only a repeat of these conflicts, but in a different context. Russia may no longer be under Communist rule, but the U.S. still views the country as an enemy. The U.S. still views Russia as a threat to its core values, and for that reason, the U.S. is scrambling for a way to “contain” the Russian threat, just as it did in the ‘50s and ‘60s. This developing change is for the worst, however. Instead of pinpointing a single key difference between the two countries, each nation is nit-picking at small, more subtle differences to try and assert its power.
These growing tensions have fuelled a fervent, almost radical nationalism in Russia and the U.S, and are completely unnecessary in the context of the global community. Does one country always have to be ahead of another as a superpower? Or should powers co-exist and acknowledge their differences? These were the settlements decided to establish the United Nations, for example, to use countries’ strengths to establish world peace, but they led to the neo Cold War conflict that exists today.
This “containment” policy no longer reflects the clashing ideologies of an economic model—the U.S. and Russia are at a standstill for geostrategic and political reasons. The end of the Cold War in 1991 may have slowed the immediate threat of the Russians by removing their communist name, but Americans today fear the Russians just the same—we fear that the Russians will have power over us with the annexation of Crimea.
The United States and Russia have forgotten what they are fighting about, rigidly stuck on the threat that they first established decades ago. The United States is not intervening or taking action for the purpose of protecting sovereignty or democratic ideals; rather, it is simply trying to shut down an old-time enemy. This stand-off serves no purpose for either country or for the international community; it’s merely an attempt to assert a shallow dominance.
The United States and Russia have also clashed before the Crimea invasion—the conflicts that arose during the Sochi Olympics over the anti-gay propaganda laws is also a manifestation of the continuing hostility between the two countries.
The Cold War has transformed into a battle on just about any policy the two countries can think of. The U.S.’s extreme distaste for Putin’s authorization of the anti-gay propaganda laws is another way for the U.S. to attack Russia, only this time over a social and human rights matter.
The problem is that the attacks do nothing other than shame the other side. The U.S. doesn’t want to accept the difference in ideals, nor does it want to advocate a change in Russia. This trivial jockeying for power does not benefit the world, and certainly not the two countries involved.