Cold War 2.0 [Times of Israel]

American tanks in Kuwait

Photo of the American armoured division in Kuwait, during the Gulf War and first major “Post-Cold War” deployment

Members of my generation could be forgiven lately for questioning whether or not we were born after the Cold War ended; or – even more troublingly – wondering if we’re currently experiencing a twisted ‘hotter’ Cold War 2.0. House Resolution 758, now sitting on the desks of the senate after passing quietly (to this moment a google search reveals reports in only two high-profile news outlets, the IBT and RT) on December 4th, would certainly spur such a line of enquiry.

The planetwide geopolitical game between the empires of the “first world” (the “old powers” embodied by the United States, and its key allies such as the UK and Israel) and “second world” (the “new powers” Russia and China) never ceased, the stakes are simply higher as the previous time an ageing superpower was replaced violently by its successor was in the case of the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War and its related conflicts. And of course, in the late 1700s, truly global hegemony and nuclear arms races weren’t a reality.

Three days ago the US president was authorised to pursue, without further congressional approval, aggressive military procedures against Russia. The parameters of the legislation allows specifically, for example: the immediate, massive, and long-term deployment of NATO forces throughout Eastern Europe (including technically, undoubtedly, active theatres such as Donbas). Perhaps the recent escalation and ongoing events in Ukraine are, as some feared at the time of Crimea’s annexation, just a preview of what’s to come. The 1990s and fall of the Berlin Wall now look like a shift that imperial forces didn’t predict, leading only to a temporary cooling of the hostility that prevailed between major powers in the post-war years.

Russia’s mafia regime, for its part, now owns a military-industrial complex that has been given the power to assume total control should open war officially reach inside Russian borders. Meaning, in the wake of a spill-over from Eastern Ukraine (to take one “World War Three Scenario”, as the Pentagon calls them), the Duma could be disbanded and replaced with an entirely overt military dictatorship.

Putin’s sky-high popularity and rhetoric suggests the Russians would be amenable to such measures, after all he claimed in his annual address (amid, quite significantly, an atmosphere of continually ascending paranoid authoritarianism) that the west had been trying to “subvert” Russia for centuries. Evidently Putin has half a point, but the Great Game, and invasion of Afghanistan the following century, were far from being one-sided affairs.

The brinkmanship in Syria, and that between Iran and Israel (manifested by the nuclear negotiations), could be broken down along similar lines to the Ukrainian Civil War.

To boot, all this occurs on the centennial anniversary of World War One’s beginning.

“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.” – William Tecumseh Sherman


Palestine in Parliament

On the 13th October the British parliament is voting on whether to recognise the state of Palestine. Historically, when faced with such measures at the UN or nationally, the UK has usually abstained or been against. But these days, who knows. In 3 weeks, we will find out if the winds are indeed blowing in a new direction. Shamefully few MPs have stated their intention to participate in the debate, unsurprisingly the Conservatives are the worst offenders.

If you want an idea of what to write to your representative, this is what I composed for my letter to Tory MP Steve Brine for Winchester.

I hope this email finds you well. My understanding is that you haven’t signalled your intention to attend a debate on the recognition of Palestinians’ right to self-determination. On the right of the stateless non-Jewish indigenous in the West Bank and Gaza to their own nation.

As recently as July 11th, Netanyahu made clear that the Israeli government would never relinquish security control of the area west of the Jordan River. So where does that leave us? In a permanent and intolerable state of limbo, with ethno-religious apartheid in the region dominated by Israel’s military and the illegal settlements it protects. The Palestinians didn’t vote for Likud, yet their administration and its supremacist policies are what they find themselves subjected to every day the 47 year old occupation continues.

Even if you, like me, have you reservations about the plausibility of a two-state solution (how can you not with statements like the one from Netanyahu I recalled above). You must accept the need for secularism and equality, nationalism which isn’t predicated on treating any religious or ethnic group as second class citizens. The vote itself, at the very least, will demonstrate the will of the British people to have the human rights of every inhabitant of Israel-Palestine respected. I can’t force you to vote in any particular direction, but I can ask you to fall on the right side of history and of peace and justice. Or, even, just that you participate in the debate and struggle over these things.