Dr. Tara McCormack, a lecturer in international relations at Leicester University joins the program.
As regards who were the victors of the last the Cold War, Tara says that we were all victors: "The Cold war is often quoted as a victory for the quote unquote West, we can think of Fukuyama's ‘End of History' case. But I don't think that was the case. I would argue that the Soviet Union ended because of its own internal problems, rather than external pressure. There was an extraordinary change in thinking with Gorbachev and other politicians. I think that what is often misunderstood is the impact of the end of the Cold War had on the West. Fukuyama's stance is often taken in a Triumphalist light, but it actually isn't. What he is saying is that we have come to the end of ideological confrontation, and that is interesting because now we are just caretaking things….With the end of the Cold War we lost the overarching ideology which managed to power a lot of domestic issues. On both sides, the Cold War was very much about policing us. Whether it was the American or British system, it doesn't matter…
"We had an attempt by the West to legitimize leadership on a moral basis. We had a humanitarian basis for intervention, then we had the war on terrorism, and this was another way to create a coherent ideology for the West, because of institutions such as NATO. Well what are they for? You could practically hear the champagne bottles being popped when Russia annexed the Crimea — we are back in business! For the whole of the 1990-s, NATO was scratching around for a reason for existence…"
A discussion ensues about how, since 9/11, the Middle East has been made to be the new ‘Rest' or the new ‘Other,' but in fact it could never really fit the role. But don't worry. Because along comes Russia which seems to be tailor made to fit into the mould of the vanguard of nasty incomprehensibly immoral policies. Tara comments: "It is preposterous in every way to think that Russia is as much as an enemy as we make it out to be. It's not particularly flattering for Russia, but it has a GDP which can be compared to that of Italy, this is a different situation to the Cold War, again, in terms of military might. Nuclear parity, of course. We know that the idea that Russia wants to take over the Baltics is laughable, as is annexation of the Ukraine, and all of those predictions haven't happened, but we can see that many in the West are thrilled at the new Cold War. But I think one thing we see is the rise of China. Quite a lot of attention in America now is framed in terms of framing China…"
The idea of Russia together with China being the new ‘Other' is discussed in the second part of the program. "One of the most idiotic things about Western foreign policy at the moment is that we have been doing our best to push Russia and China together. We are seeing a lot of discussions on a military level between Russia and China." Perhaps this is intentional, so that we westerners have an enemy strong enough so that we can create a new uniting ideology?, host John Harrison asks. Tara says that she doesn't thing that it is deliberate, but she does say that "since the end of the Cold War we did have a humanitarian philosophy that we now have the right to sort out the rest of the world,…and now we find the West still trapped in that 1990s mind set: ‘No no!' We can still overthrow governments and nobody is going to batter an eyelid. So I think that we are not quite getting it, that Russia and China are status quo powers, they are on the defensive. Crimea, Georgia, have all been about securing borders, both countries have been the prime defenders of sovereignty and have argued against the crusading ideas of human rights so this is quite an interesting situation to see both these countries being worried about the West's addiction to ‘regime change'".
The new situation in Asia is discussed, as clearly isolating Russia in the way that the Soviet Union was isolated along its southern border is now not possible because of trade between Russian and Asia countries. Tara comments: "We also have a much more interlinked Russian, European and American economy." Tara feels that the attempt to stereotype Russia into a kind of new enemy for Cold War II will not work globally. "I think you do have serious geopolitical tensions, but I also think that it is much more of a regional affair….It is much more of a non-polar world in terms of the relationships that States have with each other, in terms of the conflicts that States have. So stark analyses are always very weak…"
We'd love to get your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org