Commentary: “Ghost” of the Cold War still haunts Washington

By Xie Hui (People's Daily Online) 11:12, April 21, 2022

The Russia-Ukraine conflict that has lasted for more than a month already and has forced millions of Ukrainian refugees to flee their homeland. The United Nations Refugee Agency has warned that the situation in Ukraine could become "Europe's largest refugee crisis this century."

A resident walks past damaged buildings in Mariupol on April 19, 2022. (Photo by Victor/Xinhua)

However, the U.S. has never mentioned its many years of “fanning the flames” in the region. Instead, the country has repeatedly added fuel to the fire of the conflict. This reveals Washington’s sinister intention of instigating ideological confrontation and a new Cold War by taking advantage of the conflict.

More than 30 years after the end of the Cold War, the ghost of the era’s Cold War mentality still haunts the White House, Capitol Hill, the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency. Some U.S. politicians have always observed the international situation from the perspectives of zero-sum games and ideological confrontation, attempting to start a new Cold War.

The current crisis and war in Eastern Europe reflect the cruelty and distortion of the powerful force behind this conventional mindset. Ukraine, which should be a bridge for communication between the East and the West, was gradually turned into an outpost for confrontation between major powers.

In its post-1991 hubris, the U.S. made two huge mistakes: to remake the world in its own interests; and to treat Russia as a defeated nation, noted British scholar Martin Jacques.

The current situation in Ukraine is a “trap” created by the U.S. after years of deliberate moves. Washington instigated the Orange Revolution and the Maidan Revolution in Ukraine and led NATO to engage in five rounds of eastward expansion, leading to a seriously imbalanced regional security situation. Russia has been forced to engage in a chess game designed by the U.S.

U.S. President Joe Biden recently delivered a speech full of language consistent with the country’s Cold War mentality in Warsaw, capital of Poland. In his speech, Biden tried to play up ideological confrontation and underscored the deterrent effects of the economic sanctions and the military deployments of the “Western world.”

On the one hand, the U.S. has continuously provided Ukraine with weapons, sacrificed the interests of the Ukrainian people, and undermined Russia’s national strength. On the other hand, the White House has magnified the security dilemma in Europe in an attempt to revive NATO.

Fundamentally, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is the disastrous consequence of Washington’s long-term pursuit of its Cold War mentality and hegemony.

The evolution of the Ukraine crisis once again reminds the world that some U.S. politicians are living in the 21st century while clinging to outdated thinking based on zero-sum games. They have been keen on stoking confrontation and creating conflicts, attempting to hijack Western countries, including European countries, onto its war chariot to serve the purposes of U.S. hegemony and to seek private gains.

Obviously, Washington is reluctant to see a united, stable and independent Europe. After the end of the Cold War, U.S. politicians have tried every means to leave Europe in a geopolitical stalemate that is intractable while deepening Europe’s dependence on America.

Europe depends on Russia for over 40 percent of its natural gas. In 2021, Russia’s natural gas exports to the European Union (EU) stood at 192.6 billion cubic meters, accounting for 81 percent of its total exports. The EU is the largest trade partner for Russia, with two-way trade reaching $282 billion last year, making up 35.7 percent of Russia’s total imports and exports.

However, bilateral trade has dramatically declined as EU countries have joined in the sanctions against Russia. The U.S. has proceeded with its geopolitical agenda out of its Cold War mentality, gradually pushing the world into an abyss of confrontation and division once again.

The Cold War benefitted no one. It was a tragedy that cost millions of lives around the world, according to an article published in the American magazine The National Interest. However, American leaders have been obsessed with their Cold War mentality. After the Russia-Ukraine conflict broke out, the U.S. and its Western allies have waged public opinion and information warfare through multiple means, including government statements, interpretations of experts from think tanks, and reports by mainstream media, further supporting the ideological narrative of the situation in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Repeatedly provoking crises and wars, showing indifference to peace talks, and even trying to protract the conflict, the U.S. has fully revealed that it is a Cold War conspirator in the 21st century. The protection of global and regional peace and stability has never been a priority in its strategy. What matters most to the country is its dominance in the international landscape, especially in the so-called “superpower game.”

The new Cold War will not gain popular support while conflicts serve no one’s interest. Although the U.S. has repeatedly coerced and induced other countries to exert pressure on Russia, many countries have expressed their opposition to unilateral sanctions and have supported Russia and Ukraine in keeping up the momentum in peace talks and settling disputes through dialogue and negotiations.

If the U.S. still chooses to stay stuck in the old days of colonial expansion and hold onto its antiquated Cold War mentality and zero-sum game mindset, not to mention being a trouble-maker for peaceful development around the world, it will eventually end up in the dustbin of history.

(Xie Hui is an associate research fellow at the Department of American Studies, the China Institute of International Studies.)

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)