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Has "new cold war" era come?
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16:29, October 06, 2008

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Georgia conflict some time before has seriously strained the relationship between the United States and Russia. Their leaders traded harsh words and both nations had made their respective military moves recently; U.S. warships entered into the Black Sea, and two Russian strategic bombers cruised to the Latin America region and landed in Venezuela as part of military maneuvers.

Some people say Russia and the U.S. have stepped into the relationship of the "new cold war", while some others speculate that they are already locked in a state of the "warm war", not merely the cold war.

The U.S.-Russian relations are so strained, since the U.S. has essentially laid emphasis on squeezing Russia's strategic space repeatedly. In recent years, the European Union's eastern enlargement, the deployment of U.S. antimissile bases in Eastern Europe, the U.S.-instigated "Color Revolution" the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region, and the U.S. has also incessantly stepped up moves in areas around Russia.

On the part of Russia, it has inclined to stabilize its political structure, developed or improved its economy greatly, and revived its awareness as a big power in recent years. So it can no longer endure such pent-up grievances the U.S. has imposed on it and await the opportune time for resolute counterattacks. As a matter of fact, Russia can only exist or subsist as a big power – This poses not only the spiritual tradition of Russians but also represent a fatalist outlook on their nation. The U.S. however, seems to lack such an understanding.

It seems inaccurate or unprecise to depict the existing U.S.-Russian ties by the concept of "new cold war" because the present space time is, after all, not the same as the space time during the cold war era. Today, there is neither a direct contest between the two ideological systems nor a direct confrontation between the two military blocs. And the U.S. can hardly patch up a bloc in a direct face-off with Russia.

The EU is Russia's main trade partner and has very close ties with the nation; it has relied on Russia for 40 percent of its natural gas, and its trade volume with Russia has reached more than 200-billion US dollars. Hence, whenever the U.S. warned in stern words and tried desperately to isolate Russia, its European partners would soon go in for "engagement" or "maneuvering" with Russia. As for the wording of the "warm war", it is pretty much like a "play on words", not a proper phrase to define the evolution of the state-to-state ties or setup.

The present U.S.-Russian ties very much resemble the traditional state-to-state relations between the two nations prior to the World War I. If one side lashes the core interest of the other side by its own marginal interest, it is sure to give rise to a counterattack. This was precisely what things were like between the U.S. and Russia during the recent Georgia crisis. If there is a direct divergence of core interest between nations and an ensuing trial of strength, the outcome is definitely war, and they were the cases relating to World War I and World War II. In the post-World War II years, major global powers however restrained with themselves to define or make clear their core interest, and somewhat respected the "red lines" of interest of the opposite side, so there were only the cold war and indirect, regional "proxy wars" instead of a direct war between major powers.

With regard to the present U.S.-Russian ties, the United States is a prevailing side, whereas Russia is the other side to respond. These years, the U.S. found it quite easy or even smooth to squeeze Russia and so acted arbitrarily and rashly sometimes to hit Russia's "red lines", and this prompted it to wage counterattacks. The former Soviet republics have been a scope of Russia's strategic interest in history, and it was so ideologically and geopolitically.

Russian would not let these areas go nevertheless and, its veiled rivalry or secret wrangles with the U.S. will not cease in the years ahead. If the U.S. does not "pressurize Russia too hard" and respect the "red lines" of its core interest, it is still possible for both sides to seek their rooms of interest under the given rules of the game, so that their bilateral ties could return to the relatively relaxed and healthy tracks.

In a nutshell, it is hard to shun conflicts of interests and struggles in social life of the humanity. What people are really capable of doing at present is definitely to tame or acclimatize such conflicts and struggles and turn them into politics or wars without bloodshed, and this truth precisely represents essentials of the civilization.

By People's Daily Online, and its author is PD desk editor Huang Qing

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