Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Stop With The Cold War 2.0 Stuff

A Stratfor analyst says there is a "Cold War 2.0" in Latin America. This is a lazy argument--anything with 2.0 is lazy--and also wrong.*

Indeed, with threats to Russia's periphery more daunting than ever, it can be argued that the Cold War never really ended for Moscow. But regardless of whether Russia's current actions in Latin America constitute a second Cold War, or if they're instead merely a reinvigoration of the original struggle, it's apparent that many of the same actors are actively involved in the unfolding unrest in Washington's backyard — and largely, for the same reasons. 
The Cold War had the U.S. and the Soviets on opposite ends of an ideological spectrum. The current era does not. There was extensive guerrilla struggle during the Cold War, and now there is not. Latin America suffered military dictatorships, sometimes of long duration, during the Cold War, and now it does not (notwithstanding the Bolivian coup). China is now a major player in Latin America, whereas during the Cold War it was not.

The actors now are different, Russian interests are different, U.S. interest in the region is different, and the Latin American context is different. There is, in fact, virtually no resemblance to the Cold War at all.

I am all for recognizing Russia's threat to democratic institutions around the world, but this is a paranoid narrative that views Russia as responsible for literally everything happening everywhere. Maybe the best resemblance to the Cold War is that there are people who cannot distinguish between domestic and foreign influences on Latin American events.

* Just Google "Cold War 2.0" and you see the myriad ways we are "on the brink" or in the middle of it. Some of them are quite James Bond-ish, so much more dangerous than the original one. Mostly it refers to Russia, but also sometimes to China. Many of the authors write as if they're making a pitch for a TV show.


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