Cold Wars, winners and losers

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The First Cold War from 1947-1991 was a non-military, ideological confrontation between the Democratic West and the Communist dictatorships of the East. Leading this war were the United States and its respective allies on the one side and the Soviet Union and its satellites on the other.

The Cold War served to maintain peace between East and West for half a century and was not based on the widely publicized theory of a “balance of terror” but on “mutual mistrust”. This was the solid base of all deals. Because the Cold War, in practice, was based on a series of mutually beneficial and well-balanced agreements between East and West in all fields, that allowed for a peaceful co-existence of the two blocs.

That both blocs developed arms industries to build conventional and nuclear weapons did not mean that any of the two intended to enter into war against the other. That was the perceptive fear of ordinary people all over the world, which attributed to domestic social peace. The building-up of arsenals served both Americans and Soviets with the opportunity to claim leadership – each with its area of influence and, most importantly, to develop arm sales to NATO and Warsaw Pact countries, respectively.

The two blocs, although they were officially and hypocritically struggling for peace, were also actively sponsoring local conflicts and revolutionary movements in their areas of influence because it meant more sales of conventional arms.

The Cold War was a confrontation of ideals, values, principles and propaganda, all of which were the only weapons in the vast arsenals of the belligerent parties. At first glance, with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the dismemberment of the Soviet Union two years later, the indisputable winner of the Cold War was the democratic West. There is, however, a second interpretation: aside from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the dictatorships of the Eastern bloc, Communism was the winner and Communists were the losers.

Communism ultimately ended up as the winner because it corrupted the democratic values and principles of Europe, which used to be the cradle and spirit of freedom in the world. However, after the Cold War ended, a similar degradation affected the United States.

An abandoned MAZ-537 truck used to tow R-12/SS-4 nuclear-tipped missiles in Pervomaysk, Ukraine. Thousands of similar vehicles can be found scattered throughout the former Soviet Union. WIKIPEDIA

During the Cold War, Soviet propaganda was primarily addressed to two major recipients – the United States and Europe. In Europe, Soviet propaganda had a very serious impact to the extent that we can easily say that Soviet disinformation transmuted the principles of liberal democracy. Europeans, under the threat of increasing influence of the various Communist parties in many countries, made serious concessions to workers, employees and civil servants and introduced the political concept of “social democracy” as a buffer to the “real Socialism” in the Eastern Bloc.

In this sense, Communism won over liberal democracy in Europe as it transformed it into a mixed system where, thanks to a free market system, the economic establishment profits disproportionally while workers, employees and civil servants get more than they deserve for their work. And all this is paid (taxes) by liberal professionals and small companies.

This is the structural reason for the endemic economic crisis in Europe. Very few pay for excessive profits and undeserved benefits for workers, employees and civil servants.

Contrary to the experience in Europe, and because of the excesses of Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare of McCarthyism in the early 1950s, Communist propaganda did not affect the United States. During the years of the Cold War, the US recorded great economic growth, while all working citizens enjoyed the fruits of his work.

The problem in the US emerged in the post-Cold War 1990s, when the financial community, without the Communist threat, captured citizens with irrational borrowing while at the same time developing parasitic activities to exploit the small savings of ordinary people.

That was the First Cold War.

A fragment of the Berlin Wall, part of ‘The End of the Division of Germany and Europe in 1990’ exhibit at Moscow’s Muzeon Park of the Arts. EPA-EFE//SERGEI ILNITSKY

The context of the Second Cold War is different as it is not ideological. Hopefully, it will also be a non-military confrontation. This time it pits Western Civilization against China’s Communists and its allies.

The Second Cold War was launched in 2017 by outgoing US President Donald Trump, who endorsed the concerns of the State Department and Department of Defence about the growing influence of China. The logic is simple: if China is not contained now, in less than two decades the Chinese will dominate the world, economically and politically.

The Chinese “weapons” in this confrontation are the cheap consumer goods that are offered in abundance to the Western markets through a network of retail shops under the control of the Chinese Communist Party, generous lending that is available to all countries in difficulties, and the extremely low production costs offered to Western industrial concerns who establish their factories in mainland China.

There is no doubt that the West, at the proper time, will similarly retaliate with a variety of economic provisions that will aim to isolate China from the world order and deplete its financial influence. The West’s “arsenal” will include “noble” arguments that will have particular appeal to potential Chinese sympathizers, i.e. the youth and intellectuals, on topics that include such human rights and environmental pollution.

The question remains, however, about who from the Western bloc, which is at present confused and leaderless, will lead the confrontation.

The United States, after the deep political division between the American people over the results of the recent presidential election, has, in the eyes of its traditional Western allies, lost its moral high ground to continue to lead the Western world. The more so due to the fact that Wall Street and the deep American industrial establishment is against any confrontation with China. Just remember what Vladimir Lenin wrote: “When it comes time to hang the Capitalists, they will vie with each other for the rope contract.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (L) and the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer chat before a meeting with China’s Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing. EPA-EFE//ANDY WONG

The European Union is a political non-entity.

Russia, despite its slow-walk towards democratization, will take for at least two or three more generations to fully cleanse from its DNA its very recent Soviet past.

Under the circumstances, only India is left to lead the Cold War against China. India is the largest country in the western world and is showing a stable course towards further democratization. Its economy is free in the context of free competition, it has direct borders with China and among all Western-allied nations, it is less susceptible to compromise with the Communists of Beijing.

Today’s China and India have two diametrically opposing philosophies of life, both of which reflecting the principles and values of their founding fathers – Mao Zedong and Mahatma Gandhi.

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