The Global Cold War

The history of the Cold War also shows that the former Soviet Union or Russia never used direct military force against Western Europe. But the risk that is perceived by Washington is that if the American deterrence measures in Western Europe were not in place, Western Europe would be much more vulnerable to Russian attacks of various shapes and types, given the dynamic nature or “hybrid” nature of warfare in this day and age. 

Moreover, the former Soviet Union did occupy half of Germany during the Cold War, which means that Russia can go beyond its Slavic sphere of influence in Eastern Europe and into Western European territory if the American deterrence measures are not in place. As a result, Washington’s rationale in terms of concessions and negotiations with Russia is valid to a certain extent, despite Washington’s blunders, follies, mishaps, and miscalculations in places outside of America’s Western sphere of influence over the course of the last few decades. 

John Lewis Gaddis also noted two important advantages which the former Soviet Union wielded over the West as soon as World War II ended and as soon as the Cold War began, and one can argue that these are two important advantages which Russia wields over the West even today, given the parallels between the past and the present. For one, the former Soviet Union had economic assets and resources as well as a command economy, which meant that the Russian economy was doing quite well, despite the wartime hits which it took from the Nazis, whereas Western economies were weakened as a result of the “Great Depression” and World War II. And one must note that the economic assets, resources, and the command-style economy still exist in Russia today. 

The second important advantage which the Soviets had over the West at the start of the Cold War was that the Soviet leadership at the beginning of the Cold War was experienced, battle-hardened, very much seasoned by adversity and hardship, and not to mention quite shrewd, whereas Western leadership was confused, divided, soft, and weak. Thus, the parallels between past and present are striking in a Cold War context that has persisted even to this day. And given the two initial advantages which the former Soviet Union wielded over the West at the start of the Cold War, one of the basic assumptions in Moscow at that time was that the West would eventually implode or self-destruct over the course of time, as long as there was optimal pressure on the West coming out of Moscow. 

We see even today that this is still the basic assumption in Moscow, namely, that optimal pressure on the West would lead to the West’s implosion and self-destruction, and it is quite evident that there is significant pressure on the West which is coming out of Moscow at the present moment. As a result, much of the Cold War, both past and present, is psychological in nature. One of the major reasons as to why the Cold War is psychological is because of the balance of power factor. But as Henry Kissinger noted, managing a balance of power system requires the kind of centralized power which Moscow has that Washington does not have, given that Washington is subject to a democratic system. 

In a sense, there are three important advantages which Moscow has over Washington at the moment if we add the balance of power factor to the two aforementioned advantages. Hence, the challenge at the present moment for Washington is tilting the balance of power in its favor by overcoming an array of obstacles that are both domestic and international in origin. 

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