Op-Ed: A new cold war with Russia as junior partner and the US as a ghost of itself

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping make a toast following their talks at the Kremlin on March 21, 2023 – Copyright AFP Emmanuel DUNAND

It says a lot about the state of this world. With all the turmoil of climate, economics, poverty, and deranged politics, a new version of the 1950s, with nostalgia buffs Putin and Trump as built-in fixtures, is the default global political position.

The only realistic entity in the China/Russia dialog is Xi Jinping. Putin is writing himself out of history with the failed war in Ukraine and various disasters. The statements made during the meeting with Xi are pretty much standard PR; no actual hard commitments were made except an oil pipeline.

The Russian Federation is NOT the Soviet Union. It’s much less capable. The only reason anyone cares is the nuclear stockpile. The Soviet Union did not have to use nukes as a diplomatic weapon. The Russian Federation has to do so, because it literally has nothing else.

Oil, schmoil; the West is working its way around the oil issue anyway and phasing it out altogether in some sectors. The Western sanctions will stay. China is Russia’s only viable option, and that’s entirely on Chinese terms. Russia has now sold a lot of oil at a discount, and the costs of those discounts are cumulative and expensive.  

This is an inverted Cold War in many ways. China is Russia’s bigger brother in the schoolyard.  Xi has taken the role of peacemaker in Ukraine. Xi’s the banker for whatever Russia does next in war or peace. Putin seems determined to undermine his own image while building Xi’s image.  

In the US the egregious insufferable Trump continues to be a current issue when he should be long gone. The learned and not-so-learned academics clog the works with useless analyses. The fact that Trump 2016 was basically a buyout of the Republican party is not discussed.

Nor is much else. Politics is the only game in town as the US gets sicker. The GOP obstructs social programs. The Trump-inflicted prehistoric SCOTUS is a very bad unresolved further problem. Trump is the image of the problems, and those problems run deep.

The fact that anyone has the sheer lack of class to call himself “greater than Washington, greater than Lincoln” and get away with it is quite bad enough. Trump did not create America. He did not exactly end a civil war, either. That remark about his own “greatness” passed almost without discussion. That’s exactly how dysfunctional America has become.

The point to be made here is that this isn’t the same America as during the Cold War. It may be armed to the teeth, but it’s now spent more time at war with itself than the entire Second World War. The politicized pandemic killed more Americans than that war, too.

Many Americans are now calling the US a third world country. The no-brow politics are certainly very similar. That wasn’t the exactly the case in the glory days. In the 1950s, if you’d said America would be in its current state, nobody would have believed it.

The highest standard of living hasn’t been in America for decades. A thin, highly distasteful veneer of wealth is too thin to disguise the reality for the majority of Americans. Maniacal price gouging is killing Main Street as much or more than the 2008 Great Financial Crisis.

In the 50s you could raise a family on one income. Now you can’t do it with two people in multiple jobs. America has gone backward, drastically, and seems to be too spineless to object.

Trump is the bumper sticker for this decay. Trump spent four years playing golf and antagonizing America’s allies, and quite specifically doing nothing about anything regarding America’s own problems. He gave tax breaks to the rich and nothing much else.

This is where America stops making sense even to itself. …And he’s running in 2024? Why? Another four wasted years of him doing nothing is a good idea? How is this credible?

Just for laughs – Trump’s “art of the deal” has turned out to be routinely and invariably giving the other side whatever they want. He doesn’t negotiate at all; he just gives in totally.  That’s hardly the best option for a Cold War. …Unless the institutionalized ultra-conservative nuthouse otherwise known as CPAC has branches in Russia and China, which of course it might.

This is the cheap, shoddy, unrealistic and backward future to which America is sentencing itself. It’s happening against the backdrop of another quite real Cold War, which easily could turn hot.

America has been basically machine gunning itself in the foot with this political babble, with four years of that foot being stuck firmly in its mouth. The ghost of America is looking shabby. It’s also looking sad when it can afford it.

Of course, all of this is assuming the droughts and other issues don’t kill off the entire northern hemisphere and there’s still anything left for anyone to be political about. None of the real-world problems of humanity are getting any attention, let alone effort and this is why.

Last century should have been an object lesson about politics as a purely destructive element in human life. Not learning that lesson is looking more fatal every day.  


The opinions expressed in this Op-Ed are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Digital Journal or its members.

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