This quote from Viktor Kremeniuk, Deputy Director of the Institute of USA-Canada Studies in Moscow, got me thinking. Speaking on developments in Russian-US relations, Kremeniuk notes, "The only thing that has prevented a full slide into a new cold war was the personal relationship between Bush and Putin."
During the Cold War, I seem to remember the subtle hint of impending doom, the present threat of the nuclear snuff. What's more, the driving ideological conflict was as central to the conflict as the military component. National Security Doctrines notwithstanding, the old gray mare of Russia’s nuclear forces just ain't what she used to be. And the brutal ideological chasm has since been replaced by differences of opinion over accepted accounting practices, the share of national ownership in vital industries, and the role of international monitoring agencies in domestic affairs. This is hardly an all-or-nothing ideological death match. Yet, why all of the talk about a new Cold War?
Pundits are generally savage fools who lack in imagination what they hold in vanity. Lacking the ability to conceptualize present relations between Russia and the United States in realistic terms, I suspect that many revert to the default setting, which has remained in place since 1991: Cold War.
No, Mr. Kremeniuk, Russia and the United States have been prevented from sliding full scale into a new cold war, not by the personal relationship between Bush and Putin, but by the fundamental and irrevocable changes which have taken place in the last decade and a half.
Things could always get worse. They propably will. But the ships have been burned and I feel very safe.