So Why Is There a «New Cold War»?
Pepe ESCOBAR | 19.02.2016 | OPINION

So Why Is There a «New Cold War»?

«Sometimes I wonder if it’s 2016 or if we live in 1962». What Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told 60 foreign and defense ministers at the 52nd Munich Security Conference this past Saturday was hardly news.

What some of us have been qualifying, for quite a while, as Cold War 2.0, was branded «New Cold War» by Medvedev – who correctly identified Ukraine and Syria as the key flashpoints. 

Medvedev also recalled that President Putin had told the same Munich conference nine years ago that the US obsession with a missile defense system risked restarting the Cold War; now «the picture is more grim; the developments since 2007 have been worse than anticipated».

When he noted that «NATO’s policies related to Russia remain unfriendly and opaque», Medvedev was graciously euphemistic. Three days before, NATO figurehead secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg announced NATO – under Pentagon’s orders – would boost its naval patrol footprint in the Black Sea. 

Predictably, Western corporate media branded Medvedev’s assessment as hyperbole, or «exploiting European anxieties». Nonsense. Facts on the ground are paving the way towards a dangerous, slippery road from «New Cold War» towards the hair-raising possibility of a Hot War over Syria – instigated by Pentagon and NATO-GCC «policies». 

NATO's periodic, hyperbolic assessments of Russian foreign policy barely qualify as fear-mongering spin. What’s open to debate is whether the Pentagon and industrial-military complex masters want a major hot war to start ahead of the entire US economy spectacularly imploding – thus offering the perfect escape for financial giants and bought and paid for politicians to blame the economic disaster on the war itself, and not on the financial casino.

Wanna talk heavy metal?

Medvedev clearly warned that any ground intervention in Syria by the US-led coalition allegedly fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh – and he meant Turkey – would unleash another war. This is a Russian red line that Lavrov has made very clear to Kerry in their multiple encounters. Medvedev added to the suspense by not stating whether the Zelyony Dol patrol ship Russia just sent to Syria has nuclear warheads for its Kalibr cruise missiles.

It’s more than obvious that the Pentagon – as well as the Obama administration – are very much aware of Turkey’s Sultan Erdogan’s desperate gambit of a direct military offensive along the Turkish/Syria border. What’s not clear is to what extent Pentagon/NATO would «support» the gambit.

There’s no smoking gun evidence – at least not yet – that a possible, if not imminent, invasion of northern Syria by Turkey is being remote-controlled directly from Washington. Under this scenario, Washington would be once again «leading from behind», a support mechanism for cannon fodder Turks and Saudis. 

At the same time, what’s really not leaking out of the serial Lavrov-Kerry meetings, plus the Obama-Putin phone call, is how forcefully Moscow has warned of dire consequences in case of a mad Turk dash. Amid the shadow play – and the disinformation campaign – some in Washington do seem to understand the implications of the Russian warnings.

Sultan Erdogan calculates that whatever he does he will have full NATO support. Meanwhile, as previously analyzed, all Russian forces are on high alert, including the Black Sea Fleet, which translates into combat-readiness in case Sultan Erdogan goes definitely bonkers.

Pentagon hawks and the neocon nebulae calculate that Moscow fears a war on two fronts, against Turkey and NATO, and thus will eventually back down in Syria. Nonsense. If push comes to shove, Turkey can be knocked out by Russia in a flash. And if we start talking heavy metal hot war – even hypothetically – Europe could be overrun in three weeks by the forces available to Russia on the Western Front, according to German military sources. NATO would be revealed for what it is – bluster from Brussels.

How desperate is the War Party?

The relentless, actually irrational demonization of Putin coupled with the neocon group think obsession about «Russian aggression» fit a pattern that has been developing for years now. The «policy» essentially consists in inexorably advancing NATO up to Russia’s eastern borderlands. And to hell with the real risk of Cold War 2.0 turning into a nuclear war. 

In terms of the New Great Game in Eurasia, what obsesses the Beltway is to cut off by all means Russia from Germany. And prevent Russia from fully aligning with China. This will continue to be the mantra whoever steps into the White House in January 2017. It boils down to sabotaging Eurasian integration non-stop. The essential subplot is to relegate Russia to the role of a regional – and not global – power.    

Relentless demonization is just the PR aspect of this Beltway consensus. All «Evil Empire» accoutrements have been dusted off – from branding Putin as «the new Hitler» to the endless «Russian aggression» meme. And «containment» is the official religion – ranging from the Baltics to Romania, across Anatolia, up to the Caucasus and the Caspian. Poland, Romania and especially Turkey have been configured as key Washington attack dogs.

The serious Turkey-Russia crisis detonated by the downing of the Su-24 by Ankara has been a bonanza for the Beltway consensus. One of its – serious – consequences may be the definitive shelving of Turkish Stream, which translates as a dagger in the back of Eurasia integration.

Moscow knows very well how this tacky process of demonization – not only of Putin, but translated into outright Russophobia – won’t abate. Because the stakes are too high. The industrial-military complex needs a powerful, «imperial» enemy; towel heads in Afghan caves or a fake «Caliphate» are a joke. Eurasian integration – Russia / China / Iran allying with Germany – must be prevented at all costs.

Meanwhile, the Russia-China strategic partnership proceeds unabated; Germany badly wants to get aboard the New Silk Road train; and the «4+1» – Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq plus Hezbollah – have turned the regime change tables in Syria. So Russia as The Primordial Enemy – or «a threat to the US in every sphere», as hawks would have it – must hover over the whole West, a symbol of fear. What we’re about to know is whether the War Party in the US is desperate enough to turn the Turkey-Syria border into the new Sarajevo, unleashing a lethally unpredictable New Hot War.

Tags: NATO  ISIS   Middle East  Russia  US  Obama  Putin