Letter From the Editors: Aug. 14 - 27, 2017

Author: Laurence Bogoslaw

Don’t Touch That Dial: The Cold War Is Taking New Turns

A quick read of this issue’s feature ("Russian-US Confrontation - New Cold War?") makes it seem that nothing much has changed geopolitically in the last four decades. Let’s look back at Vol. 30 of the Soviet-era incarnation of the Digest, in which a Pravda article by S. Vishnevsky (July 20, 1978) concluded as follows: "[T]he ‘new lever’ [of economic sanctions] is really not new at all. It is an old, thoroughly rusty instrument of pressure and blackmail that certain circles in Washington have repeatedly tried to put into play. But every time the effort has been unsuccessful. In the end, such cold war levers damage the United States itself above all." Vishnevsky was writing about the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, but his words apply just as well to the recently passed Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

Or do they? Upon closer examination, we can sense on the Moscow side new notes of frustration and outrage at the ramped-up sanctions, which further hamper commercial ties and potentially widen the list of Russians under travel restrictions. Historian Vasily Zharkov writes in RBC Daily that for the current US elite, "every country is a nation representing essentially a billiard ball that is completely solid. If this ball rolls where America does not want it to roll, just hit it -. .. the sanctions are now affecting us [ordinary Russians] - our lives, our well-being and our future. We are paying for someone else’s political games."

Another new wrinkle is that this round of sanctions targets not only Russia, but Iran and a now-nuclear North Korea. Vasily Kashin ponders the implications of the overt brinkmanship now raging between Washington and Pyongyang: "For the first time since the 1999 Indo-Pakistani border war in Kargil, we may be witnessing a major armed conflict between nuclear powers: the US and ...

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