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The Cold War Lives On!

January 30, 2013

In my last post about North Korea I mentioned how, what with the North Koreans issuing nuclear threats and Russia’s ever-increasing frigid attitude towards the USA, that it seems that the Cold War never ended. Well, I would like to expound on that idea a bit more, and say that indeed, it looks like we’re entering the age of Quiet Threats and Uncertainty again. The Cold War never ended, it was simply dormant: as The Soviet Union collapsed and had to start rebuilding, the world experienced what I would like to call a Hot American thaw-out.

Russia has since rebuilt; one can certainly say that it is strong. Unlike most European countries Russia is not crushed with piercing debt; one could even say that, monetarily, it’s better off than the USA. Russia can’t be internally absorbed with domestic issues like immigration (besides Gerard Depardieu, who wants to move there?) or human rights because, oh wait, Russia doesn’t really give a shit about those. So, a relatively strong economy, a controlled society and a ruthless dictator (yes Putin, what else would you call yourself)? Seems like the USSR is back in business.

This time around, however, we’ve got some new players. Cuba is sitting this one out; with Castro in ill health, Cuba a crumbling castila and the doors open to more foreign interaction, Cubans suffered isolation long enough. Instead, we’ve got North Korea (headed by the fabulous Jong-Un), Iran (ah, Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an ayatollah in his own right) and China, ever-still Communist. China is unique in the fact that while they’re not outright (or even subtly) threatening in the way of words, their special ties to the USA and Position as (Perhaps) most Powerful Player (not to mention their good old Communism) mean they’re in on this little party.

The threat of nuclear war is probably most imminent than it has been since the Cuban Missile Crisis. It’s not Russia making the threats this time, but instead North Korea. As I discussed in my previous post, the threats by NK might lack pomp and circumstance, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous; uncertainty and subtlety are hallmarks of Cold War. North Korea, according to Fox News, is planning to conduct an above-ground nuclear weapon test, this time possibly with joint Iranian  assistance on (NK’s) own borders. This is a more welcome plan than testing out their nuclear weapons on the USA, as they have stated they will do. Iran, although not officially conducting it’s experiments with nuclear material to make weapons, is nevertheless widely suspected of doing just that, given the fact that it usually won’t work with United Nations inspectors. Furthermore, as reported by Japanese Kyodo News Agency, “Iran has stationed staff in North Korea to strengthen cooperation in missile and nuclear development,” which thereby indicates that Iranian scientists have knowledge of building nuclear weapons. Iran proves quite the cold threat; a nuclear bomb in the hands of the ayatollah is more formidable than in the hands of attention-seeking Jong-un.
“The North Korean psyche is such that, every time the US downplays the significance of a successful ballistic missile test or nuclear bomb test, the North Koreans feel they have to prove the US wrong,” writes Van Hipp in this Fox News article (yes, I was reading Fox, imagine that!) and it’s an important point: the US government/media tries to act indifferent to these “bluffs” but in reality, they’re just giving the North Koreans more of a reason to prove their might. At least when it came to the Soviets, we acknowledged the threat. 

Another highlight of the Cold War, the Space Race, has also returned, only this time it’s not just between America and the Russians. North Korea finally successfully launched a Uhlna rocket into space back in December, having successfully sent off several satellites in the past. Iran has just sent a monkey into orbit, strapped onto a padded seat in a Kavoshgar rocket.

(sourced from msnbc.msn.com)

According to Michael Elleman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank (Reuters), “…Iran has an ambitious space exploration program that includes the goal of placing a human in space in the next five or so years and a human-inhabited orbital capsule by the end of the decade.” Iran’s Space Plans represent the lack of information that is transferred to this day between countries: the USA has sent people, for example, into space; so have several other countries, and yet this information is apparently not shared on the open market. How positively chummy the countries of the world are!

The key divide in the Cold War I was, above all, ideology: specifically, Soviet Communism versus American/Western capitalism. And while Communism might not be the great divide (China is quite materialistic, at least if you look at Hong Kong), differing ideologies still stand. Iran is an Islamic republic and takes Islamic teachings (or non-teachings) seriously. The government’s position is firmly against the decadent, tyrannical West-and that, in fact, seems to be the underlying common link between all of these cold states: their hatred of US foreign policy and the US in general, especially democracy. Thus, this is a war of Democracy versus Dictatorship. Russia, China, NK and Iran all are tightly controlled countries where daily life is monitored and personal freedoms limited.

Russia? No freedom of the press, the possibility of being thrown in the gulag for going against the government…they’re even stopping the adoption of Russian children by Americans after 2014 by enacting the Dima Yakovlev law (if that isn’t a cold move, than I don’t know what is). Iran? Leaving the country is difficult (or entering), TV and film is censored, religious police are on the street making sure women don’t wear nail polish or show their socks. China monitors the newspapers, TV and internet, tussling with Google and even forbids people from having more than one child, for God’s sake (although perhaps this is a blessing…) NK? Well, we don’t really know what goes on, but that’s kind of the whole point: the citizens have little contact with the outside world.

In short, world politics have gotten a bit scarier. The Bush years, what with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and terrorism, were tough–but least the bad guys were clearly stated. This time around, everyone’s trying not to point fingers-but finding it difficult. There’s so much hatred, so much competition…and this time, the United States doesn’t have the dough to throw around like last time. NASA’s been on the down-and-out, and our citizens are too preoccupied with themselves. Strangely enough, it was Russia which recently said for “everyone to stop acting like children” and for Iran and the West to finally schedule their damn talks about Iran’s uranium. Kind of strange coming from a country who likes to play (and support; look at Syria) the bad guy, but it’s true: let’s all stop acting like sulky, passive-aggressive siblings, get rid of the nuclear weapons and stop this Cold War from (yes, I’m going to say it) becoming incendiary.

Links:

1. http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/01/26/time-to-get-tough-with-north-korea-and-iran-as-imminent-nuclear-bomb-test-looms/

2. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/28/us-iran-nuclear-eu-idUSBRE90R0F220130128

3. http://www.aerospaceguide.net/northkoreanspaceprogram.html

4. http://rt.com/politics/duma-adoption-ban-bill-658/

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