Amid the worries of a nuclear holocaust and mutually assured destruction, the Cold War was a relatively stable period as the Soviet Union and the United States kept each other in check.
Now, against the backdrop of rising tensions in the Koreas and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon and Senate Armed Services Ranking Republican James Inhofe have started nostalgically looking back at the ease of navigating Cold War relations.
Josh Rogin, of The Daily Beast, reports:
“I look back wistfully at the Cold War,” Inhofe said Thursday at a breakfast meeting with reporters. “There were two superpowers, they knew what we had, we knew what they had, mutually assured destruction meant something. It doesn’t mean anything anymore. Now we have these people who are not rational, not logical, they’re nuts.”
McKeon and Inhofe are both worried about the current lack of superpowers in the world, missing the days when Russia and China would reign in their client states. Instead, in their eyes there is now anarchy on the world stage.
“When we used to have superpowers, they would let things go until it looked like it was going to spill over. Then they would step in and stop it,” McKeon told Rogin. ” … It’s a dangerous world and we are making it more so, because by cutting defence we are totally eliminating Reagan’s line ‘peace through strength.'”
Russia’s constant contrary stance on Iran and Syria is indicative of the current free-for-all happening in world politics. The current massing of 150,000 Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, followed by a lack of a contingency plan from both the U.S. and NATO, further highlights how far the U.S. has fallen.
At issue for both Republicans is the Obama administration’s goal of shrinking the armed forces to pre-WWII levels. The aggressiveness of Russia, they believe, is a response to these policies.
“This is a very dynamic system and I think what’s happening… Putin’s not a dummy,” Inhofe said. “He says hey, America’s cutting back on their defence, I can push here.”
In some ways, the nostalgia for a Cold War era system is understandable. A world with two competing superpowers is stable, and threats to national security can be anticipated.
Instead, without a unifying mission, the world is full of countries pursuing their own interests coupled with a multitude of threats from both state and non-state actors. This situation is similar to the diplomatic stage before the outbreak of World War I.
If that is the case, slight nostalgia for a more stable Cold War world is understandable.
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