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Cold War II

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For a list of various tensions called "Cold War", see Cold war (general term). For the 2016 film, see Cold War 2 (film). For an ice hockey game, see Cold War II (ice hockey).

Cold War II,[1][2] also called the New Cold War,[3][4] Second Cold War[5][6][7] and Cold War 2.0,[8][9] refers to a renewed state of political and military tension between opposing geopolitical power-blocs, with one bloc typically reported as being led by either Russia or China,[10] and the other led by the United States or NATO. This is akin to the original Cold War that saw a global confrontation between the Western Bloc led by the United States and the Eastern Bloc led by the Soviet Union, Russia's predecessor. American political scientist Robert Legvold posits that the "new Cold War began the moment we went over the cliff, and that happened with the Ukraine crisis."[11][12] Others, such as Andrew C. Kuchins in 2016, believe that the term is "unsuited to the present conflict," but the situation is arguably more dangerous than during the original Cold War.[13] One of the primary features of the "New Cold War", as first defined by Philip N. Howard, is that conflict is experienced primarily over and through broadcast media, social media, information infrastructure.[4]

Early usages[edit]

Past sources,[14][15][16] such as academics Fred Halliday[17][18] and David S. Painter[19] used the interchangeable terms to refer to the 1979–1985 and 1985–1991 phases of the Cold War.

EU and NATO members vs. Russia[edit]

Some sources use the term as a possible[20][21] or unlikely future event,[22][23] while others have used the term to describe ongoing renewed tensions, hostilities, and political rivalry that intensified dramatically in 2014 between the Russian Federation on the one hand, and the United States, NATO, European Union, and some other countries on the other.[24] Michael Klare, a RealClearPolitics writer and an academic, in June 2013 compared tensions between Russia and the West to the ongoing proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran.[25] Oxford Professor Philip N. Howard argued that the new cold war has a distinct media dimension in that the battles are being fought over control of Russia's media broadcasters and through cyberwar between authoritarian governments and their own civil society groups.[4] While some notable figures such as Mikhail Gorbachev warned in 2014, against the backdrop of Russia–West political confrontation over the Ukrainian crisis,[26] that the world was on the brink of a New Cold War, or that a New Cold War was already occurring,[27] others argued that the term did not accurately describe the nature of relations between Russia and the West.[28] While the new tensions between Russia and the West have similarities with those during the original Cold War, there are also major dissimilarities such as modern Russia's increased economic ties with the outside world, which may potentially constrain Russia's actions[29] and provides it with new avenues for exerting influence, such as in Belarus and Central Asia, which have not brought on the type of direct military action in which Russia engaged in less cooperative former Soviet states like Ukraine or the Caucasus.[30] The term "Cold War II" has therefore been described as a misnomer.[31]

The term "Cold War II" gained currency and relevance as tensions between Russia and the West escalated throughout the 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine followed by the Russian military intervention and especially the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July 2014. By August 2014, both sides had implemented economic, financial, and diplomatic sanctions upon each other: virtually all Western countries, led by the US and EU, imposed restrictive measures on Russia; the latter reciprocally introduced retaliatory measures.[32][33]

Tensions escalated in 2014 after Russia's annexation of Crimea, and military intervention in Ukraine. Some observers − including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad[34] − judged the Syrian Civil War to be a proxy war between Russia and the US,[35][36] and even a "proto-world war".[37] In January 2016, senior UK government officials were reported to have registered their growing fears that "a new cold war" was now unfolding in Europe: "It really is a new Cold War out there. Right across the EU we are seeing alarming evidence of Russian efforts to unpick the fabric of European unity on a whole range of vital strategic issues.”[38]

In an interview with TIME in December 2014, Gorbachev said that the US under Obama was dragging Russia into a new Cold War.[39] In February 2016, at the Munich Security Conference, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO and Russia were "not in a cold-war situation but also not in the partnership that we established at the end of the Cold War,"[40] while Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, speaking of what he called NATO's "unfriendly and opaque" policy with regard to Russia, said: "One could go as far as to say that we have slid back to a new Cold War."[41] In October 2016 and March 2017, Stoltenberg repeatedly said to, respectively, BBC News[42] and then CBS News[43] that NATO would not seek "a new Cold War" or "a new arms race" with Russia.

In September 2016, when asked if he thought the world had entered a new cold war, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov argued that current tensions were not comparable: he noted the lack of an ideological divide between the United States and Russia, said that conflicts were no longer viewed from the perspective of a bipolar international system.[44]

In October 2016, John Sawers, a former MI6 chief, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he thought the world was entering an era that was possibly "more dangerous" than the Cold War, as "we do not have that focus on a strategic relationship between Moscow and Washington.”[45] Similarly, Igor Zevelev, a fellow at the Wilson Center, said, "[I]t's not a Cold War [but] a much more dangerous and unpredictable situation."[46] CNN opined, "It's not a new Cold War. It's not even a deep chill. It's an outright conflict."[46]

In January 2017, a former government adviser Molly K. McKew said at Politico that the US would win the "new Cold War" if the War happens.[47] The New Republic editor Jeet Heer dismissed the possibility as "equally troubling[,] reckless threat inflation, wildly overstating the extent of Russian ambitions and power in support of a costly policy," and too centred on Russia while "ignoring the rise of powers like China and India." Heer also criticized McKew for supporting the possibility.[48] Jeremy Shapiro, a senior fellow in the Brookings Institution, wrote in his blog post at RealClearPolitics, referring to the US–Russia relations: "A drift into a new Cold War has seemed the inevitable result."[49]

In late April 2017, during a interview with Russian government related media a former US advisor of President Ronald Reagen called the current Russia–United States relations worse than during the Cold War.[50] The Rusian Foreing Ministry have expresed the same oponion in the past.[51][original research?]

United States vs. China[edit]

A US politician Jed Babbin,[52] a Yale University professor David Gelernter,[53] a Firstpost editor R. Jagannathan[54] Subhash Kapila of the South Asia Analysis Group,[55] and some other analysts[56] use the term to refer to tensions between the United States and China.

Financial Times also speculated the new Cold War between the two nations by citing the increased Chinese military activity in the South China Sea.[57] Chinese media speculated a new Cold War by citing events occurred in July 2016, like the US deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) in South Korea and The Hague-based arbitrary tribunal ruling against China's favor on the South China Sea dispute.[58]

Other analysts, including ones interviewed by The Straits Times, rejected the "new Cold War" reference to the US–China relations, mostly "citing obstacles such as a lingering distrust between [China, Russia, and North Korea]."[58] Nevertheless, the analysts suggested US and China to ease tensions between the two countries. Jin Canrong (金灿荣) from Renmin University said, "China remains committed to building a new type of major-power relationship with the US that avoids conflict and focuses on cooperation."[58] Wang Dong from Peking University dismissed the "new Cold War" talks as "media sensationalism" and further told the newspaper his reasons to reject the claim: "[F]or one thing, the two are highly interdependent, economically and socially, and, for another, the cost of rushing into a new Cold War for nuclear powers like China and the US is prohibitively high."[58] Chen Jian from Cornell University said, "A new Cold War is not going to happen if neither side makes serious mistakes, including mistakes related to misperceptions of a new Cold War."[58]

Besides the South China Sea dispute, South China Morning Post columnist Shi Jiangtao said in January 2017 that some other experts cited trade relations between the US and China, the Taiwan situation, and the China–North Korea relations as possible emergence "of a new cold war" between the US and China.[59]

Donald Trump, who was inaugurated the US president on 20 January 2017, has stated he considers China a threat, increasing speculation talks of the possibility that would affect the relations.[60][61][62] A Claremont McKenna College professor Minxin Pei said that Trump's election win and "ascent to the presidency" may increase chances of the possibility.[63] In March 2017, a self-declared socialist magazine Monthly Review said, "With the rise of the Trump administration, the new Cold War with Russia has been put on hold," and also said that the Trump administration has planned to shift from Russia to China as its main competitor.[64]

Also, in March 2017, after recent developments of THAAD, a Dongguk University professor Kim Yong-hyuk said, "A new Cold War would be an exaggeration, but it is apparent that China is trying to draw its two Cold War allies [Russia and North Korea] to its side at least over THAAD-related issues[.] It will also highlight the alliance between South Korea and the US as well as their ties with Japan as part of tactics against THAAD."[65]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ As Cold War II Looms, Washington Courts Nationalist, Rightwing, Catholic, Xenophobic Poland, Huffington Post, 15 October 2015.
  3. ^ Simon Tisdall (19 November 2014). "The new cold war: are we going back to the bad old days?". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Philip N. Howard (1 August 2012). "Social media and the new Cold War". Reuters. Reuters Commentary Wire. Retrieved 2 August 2016. 
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  8. ^ "Cold war 2.0: how Russia and the west reheated a historic struggle". The Guardian. 28 October 2016. Retrieved 24 October 2016. 
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  55. ^ Kapila, Subhash (25 February 2016). "United States Cannot Afford Two Concurrent Cold Wars – Analysis".  (Click here for original publication)
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