How to Win Cold War 2.0

To beat Vladimir Putin, we’re going to need to be a little more like him.

The last two weeks have witnessed the upending of the European order and the close of the post-Cold War era. With his invasion of Crimea and the instant absorption of the strategic peninsula, Vladimir Putin has shown that he will not play by the West’s rules. The “end of history” is at an end—we’re now seeing the onset of Cold War 2.0.

What’s on the Kremlin’s mind was made clear by Putin’s fire-breathing speech to the Duma announcing the annexation of Crimea, which blended retrograde Russian nationalism with a generous helping of messianism on behalf of his fellow Slavs, alongside the KGB-speak that Putin is so fond of. If you enjoy mystical references to Orthodox saints of two millennia past accompanied by warnings about a Western fifth column and “national traitors,” this was the speech for you.

Putin confirmed the worst fears of Ukrainians who think they should have their own country. But his ambitions go well beyond Ukraine: By explicitly linking Russian ethnicity with membership in the Russian Federation, Putin has challenged the post-Soviet order writ large.

For years, I studied Russia as a counterintelligence officer for the National Security Agency, and at times I feel like I’m seeing history in reverse. The Kremlin is a fiercely revisionist power, seeking to change the status quo by various forms of force. This will soon involve NATO members in the Baltics directly, as well as Poland and Romania indirectly. Longstanding Russian acumen in what I term Special War, an amalgam of espionage, subversion and terrorism by spies and special operatives, is already known to Russia’s neighbors and can be expected to increase.

Read the rest at POLITICO Magazine…


6 comments on “How to Win Cold War 2.0”
  1. Captain DJ says:

    The only viable response is to bolster Poland’s military capabilities by deploying the missile defense batteries that Obama canceled in order to appease the Russians, followed by a robust military assistance program. Make Poland into a regional power. We can not confront Russian on their doorstep without grave consequences, but we can fulfill our promises to our emerging NATO allies and bolster our commitment to the region.

    1. Niccolo Salo says:

      i think it’s a no-brainer that Poland’s defense apparatus will be beefed up but Russia does not have any territorial pretensions towards Russia since Putin’s Russia is not an ideological state but rather one based on Russian leadership in the style of the Tsarist Empire of old. There are no Russians ‘to rescue’ in Poland, unlike those in Crimea or Trans-Dneistra, nor are there willing subjects of the Russian state there unlike the Ossetians of Georgia.

      There are four areas of contention:

      1. Eastern Ukraine – the industrial heartland and heavily pro-Russian
      2. Central and Southern Ukraine – Kiev and the environs to the south, lean towards the West but still a transitional zone historically, ethnically, and culturally
      3. Western Ukraine – firmly outside of the Russian sphere culturally and mentally
      4. Trans-Dneistra – an enclave that has been in limbo for over two decades in which the Ukrainian population along with the Russian population want nothing to do with Moldova

      Not in contention:

      1.Estonia – Russians have been disenfranchised, but the population is small and the situation is easily resolved, plus under the NATO umbrella
      2. Latvia – see Estonia
      3. Lithuania – tiny Russian minority granted its rights, also under NATO umbrella

      Russia has shown its desire to not engage in irredentism up until Ukraine blew up. The efforts to draw Ukraine westwards by the USA, Poland and Germany crossed a red line as it threw up the Brzezinski red flag, resulting in Russia’s occupation and annexation of Crimea and pressure on Eastern and Southern Ukraine.

      I think that talk of Cold War 2.0 is unnecessary because it lacks the world-ideological element that defined the Cold War. A build up of forces in Eastern Europe also affects the desired pivot to East Asia, and also ends military cutbacks.

      At the end of the day, the best solution is a Ukraine that is federalized and Finlandized, allowing Ukraine to play its frontier role, allowing it to be the bridge between Europe and Russia that it should be instead of a forward base for NATO missiles.

    2. Joe Katzman says:

      “The only viable response is to bolster Poland’s military capabilities by deploying the missile defense batteries that Obama canceled in order to appease the Russians,….”


      Sorry, but those missiles Do Not Work. Their last successful intercept was what? 2008? And if you read the government’s own scientific reports, GBI missiles in Poland can’t intercept ICBMs because the distance/ geometry/ speed combination just does not work. If you can’t get the ICBMs anyway, use systems that cost 1/2 to 1/3 as much and can deal with MRBMs and below headed for Europe.

      For about $450 million you could move the Aegis Ashore complex planned for Poland in 2018 ahead to 2016, with SM-3 Block IB missiles. When SM-3 Block IIA is ready, with far greater ranges and counter-IRBMs abilities, just switch the missiles into the launch cells and perform the Aegis BMD 5.1 software upgrade. Presto! Now you have the original plan for 2018 (which development wasn’t going to be in time for anyway).

      Second pro tip: When Mr. Peace Prize decides to postpone a planned 2011 missile defense system in Poland, try consulting the ally before the phone call. And try not to make said call on the anniversary that Poland was invaded by Russia. As one might imagine, Poland kept their cool and wasn’t publicly critical, but they are taking steps…

      Yes, XX’s post about credentialed Beltway uselessness really hit home with me. If you don’t know the subject, your policy recommendations will be stupid. *No offense meant, Captain DJ. It isn’t your job to know this stuff.* But it’s theirs on the Hill, in the think-tanks, etc. And as usual, their performance underwhelms.

  2. Niccolo Salo says:

    John, how does this picture make you feel? I think it speaks volumes.

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