US-Russian relations have seen a sharp downward turn since the beginning of this year, with a continuously escalating war of rhetoric. Some even worry the bad terms might push Europe to the edge of a new cold war. A review of the ties since the end of the Cold War readily reveals that the two nations have been experiencing cold and hot spells in turn. Then, how did the ties run into difficulty once again?
It appears that the causes lie in these facts - the US, after NATO's eastward expansion, has further compressed Russia's strategic space by insisting on the deployment of the NMD program in Eastern Europe; the US frequently poked its nose into Russian affairs and supported "color revolutions"; and Russia, openly accused Washington of unilateralism in international affairs.
As seen from the way they have fought with each other, Russia held a strong stance: it criticized the NMD program vehemently, put stress on the mastery of countering technologies, announced a suspension of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and accused Washington of Nazi-like unilateral behaviors. The US stance is one aggressive step after another: it insisted on NMD deployment, gave aid and funds to anti-government organizations in Russia and brushed aside Russian opinions when handling global affairs.
Therefore, it can be said the poor relations are an outcome of the ebb and flow of each country's national strength and strategic interests. More specifically, ever since the end of the Cold War, Washington has been methodically containing Russia, nibbling off its "legacy" as the Soviet Union and preventing it from rising up again. Simultaneously, Russia can no longer bear US oppression as its economy has made a turn for the better and national strength has increased.
Taking a closer look at the issue, one cannot help but be reminded of the "jungle law" first put forward by a Greek philosopher, and once worshiped by western powers. According to this law, whoever has the biggest power and sharpest paws is dominant. To bully the weak, one fights for spheres of influence, interferes with others' internal affairs and pushes forward unilateralism - one can do everything he wants as long as he is strong enough; whatever one does is rational and compatible with the rules, whereas others' opposition and struggle only mean they don't understand and the only thing one needs to do is to "explain"��
Thousands of years later, the "jungle law" is replaced by democracy in most political systems. But regrettably, it is still embraced by some countries today in handling global affairs. Therefore, both physically and mentally, the "winner" of the Cold War forces the "loser" to pay a price and reaps the "bonus" of its victory.
Judging from the current state of US-Russia relations, the assertion of a new cold war is more or less an exaggeration, for the tensions will not reach such a level. However, what is certain is that the "jungle law" still plays a role in the management of international affairs. Doesn't this reveal that the self-proclaimed democracy by some powers is in fact a crippled democracy?
The author is Chen Hu, executive editor-in-chief of World Military Affairs magazine; translated by People's Daily Online.