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Weissman writes: "'The world is on the brink of a new Cold War,' a surprisingly animated Mikhail Gorbachev warned in Berlin on Sunday. 'Some are even saying that it's already begun.'"

Mikhail Gorbachev. (photo: Jens Kalaene/DPA/Corbis)
Mikhail Gorbachev. (photo: Jens Kalaene/DPA/Corbis)

Putting a Stop to the New Cold War

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

10 November 14


he world is on the brink of a new Cold War,” a surprisingly animated Mikhail Gorbachev warned in Berlin on Sunday. “Some are even saying that it's already begun."

Speaking at a symposium celebrating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 83-year-old Gorbachev may seem yesterday’s man. He is, after all, the last president of the Soviet Union before it fell apart, while Russia has now morphed into the corrupt oligarchic capitalism of Vladimir Putin, with his new-found religiosity, idiotic gay-bashing, and ultra-rightwing nationalism.

In today’s Russia, Gorby remains a prophet without honor in his own country, where members of parliament have called on their government to prosecute him for treason for having sold out to the NATO allies. By contrast, many in the West still admire him for his glasnost and perestroika reforms at home, for respecting the independence of his Eastern European satellites, and for helping end the first Cold War without major bloodshed.

But few Western leaders - including Obama, the Clintons, and the Bushes - will find comfort in what Gorbachev is now saying. That is, if they bother to hear him out, which his fellow Nobel laureate in the White House seems unlikely to do.

“The end of the Cold War was just the beginning of the path towards a new Europe and a safer world order,” said Gorbachev. “But, instead of building new mechanisms and institutions of European security and pursuing a major demilitarization of European politics – as promised, incidentally, in NATO's London Declaration – the West, and particularly the United States, declared victory in the Cold War. Euphoria and triumphalism went to the heads of Western leaders. Taking advantage of Russia's weakening and the lack of a counterweight, they claimed monopoly leadership and domination in the world.”

He specifically cited the expansion of NATO, the development of an anti-ballistic missile system, military interventions in Yugoslavia and Iraq, the West-backed secession of Kosovo, the crisis in Syria, and the standoff over Ukraine, which he called a “blister turning into a bleeding, festering wound.”

“Instead of becoming a leader of change in a global world, Europe has turned into an arena of political upheaval, of competition for spheres of influence and, finally, of military conflict,” he said. “The consequence, inevitably, is Europe's weakening at a time when other centers of power and influence are gaining momentum. If this continues, Europe will lose a strong voice in world affairs and gradually become irrelevant.”

“The events of the past months are consequences of short-sighted policies of seeking to impose one’s will and fait accompli while ignoring the interests of one’s partners,” he said.

Nothing better describes the Obama administration’s covert intervention in Ukraine, which I documented in “Meet the Americans Who Put Together the Coup in Kiev” (Part I and Part II) and “Ukraine: Who Will Control Eurasia's Oil and Gas?” But Gorbachev was there, playing a larger-than-life role. It was riveting to hear him recall his frank discussions with the leaders of other countries, some of whom greatly feared the prospect of a reunified Germany. Even with Germany’s domination of the European Union and its imposition of a counterproductive economic austerity on its weaker neighbors, the reunification has proved far less dangerous than many expected. As a result, Gorbachev believes that history will award him and his Western counterparts “high marks.”

I have my doubts, especially if the new nuclear-armed Cold War continues to escalate over Ukraine. As I described in “Exposing the Cold War Roots of America's Coup in Kiev,” Gorbachev knew that Washington had plans to encircle what was still the Soviet Union. When he offered substantial evidence, the elder President Bush assured him in writing that, “We have no intention of seeking unilateral advantage from the current process of change in the GDR [German Democratic Republic] and in other Warsaw Pact countries.”

Bush was telling an obvious lie, which Gorbachev felt compelled to swallow. A weakened USSR badly needed financial help, which Germany offered. But he should have been more honest with his fellow Russians about what he and his intelligence services expected the US and NATO to do. His failure has greatly fed a widespread sense of betrayal, which Putin plays upon to pursue his nationalistic agenda.

Still, Gorbachev sees a timely lesson for today in the political dialog and active diplomacy that brought a peaceful end to the first Cold War. He even sees the possibility of negotiating with Big Bad Vlad, whose recent speech in Sochi seriously ruffled feathers. “Despite the harshness of his criticism of the West and the United States in particular,” said Gorbachev, “I see in his speech a desire to find a way to lower tensions, and ultimately to build a new basis for partnership.”

Gorbachev admitted that his customary optimism was wearing thin, but remember that he began making peace with no less a Cold Warrior than Ronald Reagan.

A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, "Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold."

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+49 # PABLO DIABLO 2014-11-10 18:34
Gorbachev is a HERO. I would salute him any day over Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Even Putin seems to have the good sense to not start a new "cold war". Get the neocons out of "our" government. They and their corporate sponsors make money off of war (lots of it) and WE PAY.
+15 # Lucretius 2014-11-10 19:06
You know what's so funny 'Steve Weissman? YOu hated the USSR before and now you hate the Russian version of America is has morphed into. Every descriptive term you write of Russia is s mirror reflection of America today.

Except that Russia probably isn't as degenerate and the people aren't as demoralized as Americans today.
+41 # Lucretius 2014-11-10 19:12
How come West Germans and Americans are so upset that gay people in Russia cannot advertise their lifestyle while in Saudi Arabia, a monarchy the US sold $60 billion worth of weaponry to in 2011 gay people are beheaded, women not allowed to drive and treated and confined to the home like the chattel property they are?

Oh, and Angela Merkel sends billions of euro weaponry to Saudis, too. All Western democracies--hy pocrites.
+6 # Doll 2014-11-10 20:49
I disagree with this author's opening remark about Putin and the Oligarch capitalists: Putin got rid of them. The one who didn't leave the country was jailed for 10 years. The other six fled to Israel, England and (maybe) the US.
+15 # Activista 2014-11-11 01:36
I admire Gorbachev - moral man that we do not appreciate - as we do not appreciate President Carter -
I also disagree with Putin characterizatio n as oligarch - most Russians do not worship money as Americans do.
It is time to get rid of NATO - symbol of the Cold War - and likely executioner of the hot war.
+7 # Bruce-Man-Do 2014-11-11 07:17
This, again, demonstrates the value of RSN - where else are we likely to be able to read important, informed observations from such a source?
-3 # Activista 2014-11-11 11:39
Quoting Bruce-Man-Do:
This, again, demonstrates the value of RSN - where else are we likely to be able to read important, informed observations from such a source?

Mikhail Gorbachev Hails Putin's Annexation of Crimea
Mar 18, 2014 - Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev came out in public support of Vladmir Putin's takeover of Crimea. He described the annexation as a ...etc.
+4 # harleysch 2014-11-11 09:33
I find it interesting that Weissman, who acknowledges that the Obama administration, the EU and NATO, are backing a Nazi coup in Ukraine, then attacks Putin for responding to it! The coup in Ukraine is the pretext for moving NATO troops to the borders of Russia. The cause of the new Cold War -- and possibly World War -- as Gorbachev says, is the actions of western governments, not Putin.

Weissman's vitriol against Putin in the opening paragraphs belies an unresolved acceptance of U.S.-British geopolitical hatred against Russia.

Gorby's intervention will open some eyes in the west. Too bad Weissman is still squinting through the very Cold War prism that Gorbachev is attacking.
+2 # vicnada 2014-11-11 13:19
Weissman simply states: "Russia has now morphed into the corrupt oligarchic capitalism of Vladimir Putin, with his new-found religiosity, idiotic gay-bashing, and ultra-right wing nationalism". Seems pretty evidence-based to me. It still doesn't mean he doesn't have a more realistic view of the way forward than Western leaders like Obama.
-3 # arquebus 2014-11-11 11:31
Putin is worried about NATO troops in the Ukraine? Does he think this is 1940 all over again? If so, it shows his insanity. He is as bonkers as Hitler was in 1940 thinking he could conquer the world.

NATO has never had the power to defeat the Sovies/Russians nor was that power ever sought. The goal was to halt Soviet expansionism at the Fulda Gap. Perhaps it worked...we do know that the Soviets didn't try to add more states to its string of captured war trophies (E. Germany, Czechoslovakia, Humgary and the rest)
-6 # Philothustra 2014-11-11 12:21
Yes, but all the Putinistas on this site have
somehow whitewashed over half a century of brutal Russian occupation of Eastern Europe, and are eager to praise KGB Vlad as an apostle of peace. All this hilarious babbling that the Ukrainians are Nazis conceals their post-Soviet agenda to restore Russia to great power status.

They claims NATO nazis are taking over Ukraine? Funny, I thought all the Russian tanks, missiles and boots on the ground were
what the fighting was about....

I note that Americans are denounced here as immoral degenerates, worshipping money, etc
while readers how when they hear the truth about Vlad the impaler, with his phony Orthodox faith, gaybashing, suppression of dissent and pledge to rebuild the russian empire............

PS Ukraine does not have huge gas, oil or minerals the US covets. It is bankrupt and utterly dependent up Gazprom. Reality check!
+1 # Activista 2014-11-11 14:44
"I thought all the Russian tanks, missiles and boots on the ground were
what the fighting was about...."
there are/were NOT any Russian troops in Eastern Ukraine ... please provide the references to educate me ..
BTW I escaped from Ester Europe in 1968 communism and Soviet domination ...
0 # Doubter 2014-11-11 19:20
Not to make light of the situation, but considering all warm 'little' wars we are embarked on; another "cold" war seems preferable to a big "hot" one. It might even entertain and distract our resident warmongers enough to keep them from starting a catastrophic war.
0 # Corvette-Bob 2015-01-04 18:48
Russia could not conduct a cold war since they are now only a regional power. They could not conduct a conventional war. The only thing they could do is to conduct a suicidal war with their nuclear weapons.

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