It seems like every week some western journalist proclaims the beginning of a «new cold war» between the United States and the Russian Federation. As proof of this, they point to the US/EU-backed fascist putsch in Kiev, NATO military gesticulations on Russia’s western frontiers, the continued US escalation of hostilities against Russian ally Syria, US objections to BRICS, among other items on a long list.
The Cold War, I would remind readers, started in November 1917 when the Bolsheviks took power in Russia. The same old gang, the US, France, and Britain, reacted immediately, encouraging the Russian commander-in-chief to disobey orders from the new Soviet government. When he attempted to do so, the poor fellow was lynched by his soldiers. Undiscouraged and terrified of a socialist revolution in Russia, the so-called Entente tossed fat rolls of banknotes to anyone who said he would fight the Soviets. The Entente sent its own forces to the four distant corners of Russia to do the job themselves. This was the «Allied» intervention which continued until the beginning of 1921 in the west and until 1922 in Eastern Siberia.
Unfortunately for western elites, their soldiers, having survived the abattoir on the Western Front, refused to fight a new war in Soviet Russia. There were grumblings, refusals to embark, and in the case of the French, outright mutinies. «If you want to fight the Bolsh», French soldiers told their commanders, «go do it yourselves.» French sailors underlined their determination not to fight by raising the red flag on ships of the French Black Sea fleet. Scandalised officers feared mutinous crews would take their ships over to the Bolsheviks. «The complete failure of a ridiculous adventure», reported one French commander. The Entente war against Soviet Russia was driven by fear and hatred of Bolshevism.
Russophobia and Sovietophobia did not end after the failure of western military intervention. On the contrary, enmity continued right up until the Nazi invasion of the USSR in 1941. In the 1920s Sovietophobia was intense in the west; in the 1930s it impeded the formation of a Grand Alliance against Nazi Germany. France paid the price in May 1940 when it collapsed in a few weeks, without a Soviet ally.
The 1941 Grand Alliance of the US, Britain, and the USSR was a kind of inadvertent shotgun marriage imposed by the common danger of Hitlerite Germany. Even so, the British high command almost never got on with their Soviet counterparts. At first British generals reckoned that the Red Army could not fight, but who were they to talk? In 1941 the British had yet to win a battle against the Wehrmacht. When the Red Army defeated the Germans at the strategic battle of Moscow in December 1941, British generals had to eat their hats, which they did with bad grace. The outrageous «Operation Unthinkable», a 1945 British contingency plan for war with the USSR, merely underlined undiminished British Sovietophobia, shared of course by the United States, absent President Franklin Roosevelt who died in April 1945. One might argue that the Cold War resumed even before the end of World War II.
Of course the Americans, immersed in their exceptionalism and plagued by notoriously short, self-serving memories, thought the ideologically driven Cold War was something which started after 1945. They were wrong about that, even though their idea, like a zombie, is hard to kill.
The point is that there is no longer the USSR to feed western Sovietophobia. What we have now is a more traditional Russophobia, nourished by many sources but especially by US intolerance of any state unwilling to bow before the Great American Hegemon. It’s more a pre-World War I type of rivalry, aggravated by the recklessness of Imperial Germany, whose role is now played by the United States. Are they the new Huns? Even in the 1990s when Russia was on its knees and led by the corrupt, drunken puppet, Boris Eltsin, the US pursued a policy of Russian encirclement by pushing NATO toward Russian western and southern frontiers, notwithstanding US promises not to do so. The short Russo-Georgian war in 2008, the Ukraine crisis, escalating US aggression against Syria are all signs of the same belligerent policy aimed at Russia. US conduct, paradoxically under the direction of Peace Prize winner Barack Obama, is a sure formula for continued US-Russian hostility, if not for open war.
It might be well to remind people eager to provoke Russia that invaders have generally done poorly against Russian armies. Even the Mongols, who destroyed Kievan Rus in the 13th century, were eventually driven out. Other invaders, Teutonic knights, Poles, Lithuanians, Turks, Swedes, French, Germans, not to mention the Entente in 1918-1920, or the Japanese from 1918 to 1922 and in 1945, all eventually fared badly. Tak bylo, tak budet seems an appropriate warning to would-be invaders. But the Russophobia nourishing US and western belligerence is not a «new cold war». It’s an older pre-1914 type of conflict, and we all know where that led.