America has launched a new Cold War, and few have noticed
This time around the Cold War was not started by Russia in Czechoslovakia or in Berlin, but by a bi-partisan American push
In Washington D.C. there has been little or no debate in mainstream American media, or even within mainstream politics, over Obama’s decision to formally launch a new Cold War.
This time around the Cold War was not started by Russia in Czechoslovakia or in Berlin, but by a bi-partisan American push over the past twenty years extending NATO eastwards towards the borders of a post-Soviet, anti-communist Russia. Ukraine was the final straw, with the violent overthrow of the mildly pro- Russian and corrupt President Viktor Yanukovych.
However, the corruption was in tune with post-Soviet, independent Ukrainian political style. Rarely mentioned in American media is that in contrast to the new President in Kiev, Yanukovych was elected president in a free and fair election – a fact scarcely remembered when the media discusses Ukraine.
Has the Cold War ever gone away?
As the Princeton professor emeritus Stephan F. Cohen pointed out in The Nation –one of the few in-print publications in America that has challenged Obama’s policy in the Ukraine – Putin did not initiate the unfolding new Cold War; it was inspired by Washington years before the Russian leader ever came to power.
It is Obama, not the endlessly provoked and demonized Putin, who has brought Ukraine to the brink of civil war.Abdallah Schleifer
Cohen notes that during the first East-West conflict over the Ukraine, after the collapse of the USSR was the 2004 Orange Revolution.
Republican columnist Charles Krauthammer acknowledged at the time: “This is about Russia first, democracy only second...The West wants to finish the job begun with the fall of the Berlin Wall and continue Europe’s march to the east…The great prize is Ukraine.”
Cohen also noted that at the time, Richard Holbrooke, an aspiring Democratic secretary of state, also concurred, hoping even then for Ukraine’s “final break from Moscow” to “accelerate” Kiev’s membership in NATO.
Passivity on Syria
What is Obama doing? He has been undermining the once overwhelmingly predominate anti-Al Qaeda sector of the Syrian rebel forces by refusing to seriously arm them or even sell them arms despite all his anti-Bashar al-Assad rhetoric.
The blood of this war is on Obama’s hands, a war that could have ended within months with but the most modest of interventions such as a limited no-fly zone and/or shoulder-fired ground-to-air missiles for the rebels.
These measures would have put a halt at the very beginning to the Assad regime’s bombing of rebel held cities and towns. Instead Obama, in his passivity, has turned Syria into an open field for jihadi extremists.
Parallels in Egypt
Similarly in Egypt, Obama’s restraint of cutting military aid to the Egyptian Armed Forces encouraged the Muslim Brotherhood to refuse to negotiate with the military-backed transitional government unless Mohammad Mursi was restored to office.
The Brotherhood’s refusal came at a time when some sort of reconciliation, hinging upon the Brotherhood adopting a reasonable course, might still have been possible.
And all of this has still further alienated America's long term Arab allies in the Gulf, troubled first by Obama’s tolerance of a pro-Iranian prime minister in Iraq who had effectively stolen his own indirect election and has gone on to marginalize the Iraqi Sunnis, in turn followed by what would have been an otherwise reasonable overture by Washington to the Iranians .
But now by cornering Russia – remember the EU offer that Yanukovych turned down included little-noticed security provisions that were to be the prelude for Ukranian membership in NATO—it is Obama, not the endlessly provoked and demonized Putin, who has brought Ukraine to the brink of civil war.
Abdallah Schleifer is a veteran American journalist covering the Middle East and professor emeritus at the American University in Cairo where he founded as served as first director of the Kamal Adham Center for TV and Digital Journalism. He is chief editor of the annual publication The Muslim 500; a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (USA) and at the Royal Aal al Bayt Academy for Islamic Thought (Jordan.) Schleifer has served as Al Arabiya Washington D.C. bureau chief; NBC News Cairo bureau chief; Middle East correspondent for Jeune Afrique; as special correspondent (stringer) , New York Times and managing editor of the Jerusalem Star/Palestine News in then Jordanian Arab Jerusalem.
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