Cold War II (also called the New Cold War or Second Cold War) is a term used to describe an ongoing state of political and military tension between opposing geopolitical power-blocs, with one bloc typically reported as being led by Russia and/or China, and the other led by the United States, European Union, and NATO. It is akin to the original Cold War that saw a stand-off and proxy wars between the Western Bloc led by the United States, and the Eastern Bloc led by the Soviet Union, Russia's predecessor.
Past sources, such as academics Fred Halliday, Alan M. Wald, and David S. Painter, used the interchangeable terms to refer to the 1979–1985 and/or 1985–1991 phases of the Cold War. Some other sources used interchangeable terms to refer to the Cold War of the mid-1970s. Columnist William Safire argued in a 1975 New York Times editorial that the Nixon administration's policy of détente with the Soviet Union had failed and that "Cold War II" was now underway. Academic Gordon H. Chang in 2007 used the term "Cold War II" to refer to the Cold War period after the 1972 meeting in China between US President Richard Nixon and Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong.
In 1998, George Kennan called the US Senate vote to expand NATO to include Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic as "the beginning of a new cold war", and predicted that "the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies".
Some sources use the "Cold War II" term as a possible or unlikely future event, 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 of America, NATO, European Union, and some other countries on the other. Journalist Edward Lucas wrote the 2008 book The New Cold War: How the Kremlin Menaces both Russia and the West, claiming that the new Cold War between Russia and the West has begun.
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. 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. While some notable figures such as Mikhail Gorbachev warned especially in 2014, against the backdrop of Russia–West political confrontation over the Ukrainian crisis, that the world was on the brink of a New Cold War, or that a New Cold War was already occurring, others argued that the term did not accurately describe the nature of relations between Russia and the West.
American political scientist Legvold said it started during the Ukraine crisis in 2013. Andrew Kuchins, an American political scientist and Kremlinologist speaking in 2016, believed the term was "unsuited to the present conflict", though he argued it may be more dangerous. Philip N. Howard, a Professor of Internet Studies at Oxford University, believed as of 2012, the conflict was experienced through information warfare, conducted primarily over and through broadcast media, social media, and information infrastructure.
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 and provide 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 region. The term "Cold War II" has therefore been described as a misnomer.
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.
Some observers − including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad − judged the Syrian Civil War to be a proxy war between Russia and the United States, and even a "proto-world war". 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."
In an interview with Time magazine in December 2014, Gorbachev said that the US under Obama was dragging Russia into a new Cold War. 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", 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." In October 2016 and March 2017, Stoltenberg repeatedly said to, respectively, BBC News and then CBS News that NATO would not seek "a new Cold War" or "a new arms race" with Russia.
In February 2016, a National Research University academic and Harvard University visiting scholar Yuval Weber wrote on E-International Relations that "the world is not entering Cold War II", asserting that the current tensions and ideologies of both sides are not similar to those of the original Cold War, that situations in Europe and the Middle East do not destabilize other areas geographically, and that Russia "is far more integrated with the outside world than the Soviet Union ever was". 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, saying that conflicts were no longer viewed from the perspective of a bipolar international system.
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". 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." CNN opined, "It's not a new Cold War. It's not even a deep chill. It's an outright conflict."
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. 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. 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."
In August 2017, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov denied claims that the US and Russia are having another Cold War, despite ongoing tensions between the two countries and newer US sanctions against Russia.
In March 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin told journalist Megyn Kelly in an interview, "My point of view is that the individuals that have said that a new Cold War has started are not analysts. They do propaganda."
Michael Kofman, a senior research scientist at the CNA Corporation and a fellow at the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute said that the new Cold War for Russia "is about its survival as a power in the international order, and also about holding on to the remnants of the Russian empire". Lyle Goldstein, a research professor at the US Naval War College claims that the situations in Georgia and Ukraine "seemed to offer the requisite storyline for new Cold War".
Amidst the deterioration in relation between both sides over a potential US-led military strike in Middle East after Douma chemical attack and poisoning of the Skripals, Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, told a meeting of the UN Security Council in April 2018 that "the Cold War was back with a vengeance". He suggested the dangers were even greater as the safeguards that existed to manage such a crisis earlier, "no longer seem to be present". Dmitri Trenin supported Guterres' statement, but added it had already begun in 2014 and was intensifying since, resulting in U.S.-led strikes on the Syrian government on 13 April 2018.
The U.S. senior defense official Jed Babbin, Yale University professor David Gelernter, Firstpost editor R. Jagannathan, Subhash Kapila of the South Asia Analysis Group, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and some other sources have used the term (occasionally using the term the Pacific Cold War) to refer to tensions between the United States and China in the 2000s and 2010s.
Talk of a "new Cold War" between a United States-led block of countries on the one hand and the putative Beijing-Moscow axis, including explicit references to it in the official PRC′s media, intensified in the summer of 2016 as a result of the territorial dispute in the South China Sea, when China defied the Permanent Court of Arbitration′s ruling against China on the South China Sea dispute, and the U.S. announcing in July 2016 it would deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) in South Korea, a move resented by China as well as Russia and North Korea.
Donald Trump, who was inaugurated as US president on 20 January 2017, had repeatedly said during his presidential campaign that he considered China a threat, a stance that heightened speculations of the possibility of a "new cold war with China". Claremont McKenna College professor Minxin Pei said that Trump's 2016 and "ascent to the presidency" may increase chances of the possibility. 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.
|"Vice President Mike Pence's Remarks on the Administration's Policy Towards China", YouTube video|
In July 2018, Michael Collins, deputy assistant director of the CIA's East Asia mission center, told the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado that he believed China under paramount leader Xi Jinping, while unwilling to go to war, was waging a "quiet kind of cold war" against the United States, seeking to replace the U.S. as the leading global power. He elaborated: "What they're waging against us is fundamentally a cold war — a cold war not like we saw during THE Cold War (between the U.S. and the Soviet Union) but a cold war by definition." In October 2018, a Hong Kong's Lingnan University professor Zhang Baohui told The New York Times that a speech by United States Vice President Mike Pence at the Hudson Institute "will look like the declaration of a new Cold War."
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