Guest Post: Is US Losing The New Cold War?

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Kristina Wong and Jeremy Herb, originally posted at The Hill,

If there is a new cold war with Russia, many observers believe the U.S. is losing it.

First under President George W. Bush and now under President Obama, the U.S. and Vladimir Putin’s Russia have engaged in a series of foreign policy battles — and Putin has repeatedly got his way.

The Russian president’s objective is clear. He wants to reassert Russia’s influence in Eastern Europe while preventing NATO’s further expansion toward Russia, said Erik Brattberg, a resident fellow at the Atlantic Council.

Diplomatic fights over Syria in 2013 and Russian’s military clash with Georgia in 2008 have given Putin confidence in the current fight over Russia’s invasion of Crimea, a region in eastern Ukraine with long ties to Moscow. 

“He's counting that there would be no significance response from the U.S. and the European Union and so far he’s been right,” Brattberg said. 

Lawmakers and experts across the political sphere warn that if the Obama administration and its western allies are not effective in dealing with Putin this time, it could have serious consequences going forward.

And the dangers go beyond Putin.

China is closely monitoring what’s going on, Brattberg said, and could become more assertive in territorial disputes with its neighbors if it sees the West back down from Russia.

Of particular concern is a small group of islands in the South China Sea that both China and Japan claim, he said. If China were to use military force against Japan, the U.S. would be contractually bound to defend it. 

“It’s not like the Chinese are sitting there [thinking], ‘What can we take tomorrow that we maybe thought we couldn’t do a month ago,’” said Gary Schmitt, a resident scholar at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute. 

“It’s more the case that some incident will happen and they’ll calculate: “Look, the U.S. really isn’t going to react,’ and they’ll take advantage of that situation,” he said. 

Putin has arguably emerged as the victor in a series of confrontations with the U.S.

In 2008, Putin caught U.S. officials flatfooted and annexed Georgian territory without serious repercussions, according to a recent interview in the Washington Post with Daniel Fata, deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy from September 2005 to September 2008.

Last August, Russia thumbed its nose at the U.S. by granting former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden asylum after he leaked classified material to the press and fled the country. 

In September, Putin got the U.S. to back down from military strikes against ally Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, by brokering a last-minute deal to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons.

The deal had the advantage to Russia of ensuring Assad could stay in power, and since the deal Assad has solidified his control of the country.

Although Russia's invasion of Georgia happened during the Bush Administration, Brattberg said Putin views Obama as particularly weak and his "reset" policy as naive.

“Putin sees Obama as a weak leader. I would point to Syria in particular. We drew a red line and didn’t back it up,” he said. 

The administration has pushed back at such criticisms, with Obama this week saying Russia’s actions were a sign of weakness that would isolate the country.

The administration has taken several steps to make that happen.

The U.S. has sent six additional F-15 fighter jets to Poland to bolster a NATO air policing mission, and announced sanctions and visa restrictions that could be imposed on Russian leaders and entities found to have threatened Ukraine’s sovereignty.

But the efforts appear to have done little to slow Russia down.

Crimea’s autonomous parliament appears to be moving ahead with a vote to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. A referendum is planned on March 16.

Schmitt said that for the United States to turn the tide, it should take stronger steps such as admitting Ukraine into NATO or sanctioning Russia’s gas exports. 

“The legacy [for Russia] would look like: ‘It looked good at the time but now it looks like we really stepped into it,’” Schmitt said.

Brattberg said the U.S. should be doing more to lead and unify a fragmented European Union. 

“There has been some disconnect over sanctions between some European Union countries, and there is the need for the U.S. to really show leadership and lead them in the same direction,” he said. 

Critics doubt the administration can provide this leadership at a time it is looking to focus on domestic policy, end the war in Afghanistan, and pivot to the Asia Pacific. 

At the SASC hearing earlier this week, Republican senators decried shrinking defense spending as a part of the U.S’s GDP at a time when the U.S. was being challenged by Russia and China.

The White House’s 2015 budget request, unveiled earlier this week, would hold defense spending nominally flat for a third year and a decline in real terms.

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fooshorter's picture

Who ever wins. We Lose...

Murf_DaSurf's picture


My God, we all know war is a racket, Hot or Cold !

kaiserhoff's picture

Screw Putin.  He's Europe's problem.  Let them man up and get something done about it.

Anusocracy's picture

And how isn't Europe as least as big a problem as Putin.

They're nothing but yes-men for the world's most destructive and psychopathic country.

Backing the number one evil in the world easily makes you evil number two.

Occident Mortal's picture

Obama's red line is on his face (and there's a yellow streak down his back).

Oh and the other thread with all the Ukrainian military...

They aren't mobilising they are defecting.

johnQpublic's picture

we need a mutherfucking thunder dome so these assholes can just go at it by themselves and leave humanity out of it

Occident Mortal's picture

The petrodollar ends on the 16th of March.

Plan accordingly.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Hmmm, well there goes my birthday plans. Maybe I will set up my tires and burning barrel in keeping with the situation. How else can one plan?


Anusocracy's picture

Have a Happy Birthday anyway.

Mine is about a week later

GetZeeGold's picture



Is US Losing The New Cold War?


It's kinda hard to criticize the communists....when we are the communists.

New_Meat's picture

might not even know we're in a war

Bendromeda Strain's picture

"There's nothing like the smell of neocon in the morning. It smells like money!"

TungstenBars's picture

Regardless of the pissing contest in the white part of world right now humanity as we know it is all in China's hands. 

Drifter's picture

China backed up by Russia and the other BRICS nations, which I believe is about 3/5 of world population.

America's world policeman (bully) days are over, and when USD loses reserve status here fairly soon America's superpower days are over.

klockwerks's picture

I had heard it was 3/4 but that came and went and now you say 16th. Any links or more info. I'm serious with the question

Anusocracy's picture

Two chickenhawks enter -

One feather pillow leaves.

kaiserhoff's picture

@ Occidental

They are fighting a very French kind of war.  Please pass the brie and grey poupon.

OpenThePodBayDoorHAL's picture

That's what America does, it "loses" wars (after wwII, anyway, and not counting GRENADA). But they keep starting new ones, I wonder why? Because the S&P 500 arms merchants win! Duh.

This stuff is not that hard to figure out.

kaiserhoff's picture

The EU is a frigging disaster.  Sane Europeans wanted free trade across the borders for small, interdependent countries.  What they got was another layer of government, accountable to no one.

The European problem is how to stay warm in the winter without Russia's oil and gas.  That's a problem they should solve. 

123dobryden's picture

first part very true


isit that hard to understand,that europe doesnt vitaly need russia but russia vitaly needs europe?


fortunately russia is weak, as putin made it weak, after his decade:

-there is still no sign of competitive manufacturing except arms, or have you ever seen Made In Russia?

-Russia is still country with of of the most unjust division of wealth

-there are still tens of thousands of SMALL entrepreneurs in jail for tax evasions


well, so far he is winning the battle of appearances, same like Stalin or late comunist leaders, but it is only appearances, reality is somewhere totaly else


majority of people here are usefull idiots regarding russia, that have never been there, just stop dreaming, accept reality or live a lie

johngerard's picture

Europe won't do anything about it, because they can't. They have barely any military to speak of (relative to the US), because the US taxpayer has paid for their defence since world war II. All Europes's money has gone into insane welfare programs instead. They couldn't even flattten a few fucking tents in the Libyan desert without the US to back them up and hold their limp, sweaty hands.

And now they are exposed to a US withdrawing from the world, and everyone else licking their lips at the thought of it.

Anusocracy's picture

Another steaming pile of crap weekend article.

Urban Redneck's picture

Drivel is too kind a characterization. It would imply that Kristina Wong and Jeremy Herb actually ingested what Gary Schmitt fed them. They really should just drop their names from the piece and republish it as an AEI diktat to the unthinking class in Washington.

Stuck on Zero's picture

Forget the cold war.  We're losing the war on drugs.  Losing the war on poverty.  Losing the war on cancer.  Losing the economics war.  Losing the country to illegals.  Losing the hearts and minds of the citizens. 

We have elected losers.


Anusocracy's picture

Not only that, we've surrendered to evil and have been overrun by stupidity.

eddiebe's picture

Correction: We haven't elected anyone in power. 

RafterManFMJ's picture

If I understand the gist of this article we must engage in nuclear brinkmanship over a matter that's none of our concern so China doesn't get the idea it can act with impunity in other matters that are none of our concern.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

I think your assessment is the best I have read on this matter. It is always unwise to play chicken with a train. Hubris from a nation rotting within is tragic and often ineffective.


nelsonmandella's picture

if its an oil war - yes we all lose 

oil in syria yes ! gas in ukraine yes !


Kirk2NCC1701's picture

How do you say "Wolverines!" in Russian?

TheReplacement's picture

So what is the answer?  Violent revolution is always fun.  However, what if one were to simply try to position himself to benefit from these incidents?  Would not one perhaps become richer and more powerful?  How long until one is rich and powerful enough to have influence?  And so on...

Do something about it.  Stop losing.  Take advantage of it.  It is heinous but it is happening no matter how you feel about it.  Get something out of it.  Maybe someday, you or your son, will be able to do something to prevent it. 

Anusocracy's picture

Join ranks with the killers and live a life of luxury as a savage animal.

I'll pass.

TeamDepends's picture

Fool me once (does kegstand), wait, shit, I can do this....  Shame on

kaiserhoff's picture

Si-lence is golden, golden...

One And Only's picture


kaiserhoff's picture

I'd love to.

Where do we sign the petition to extradite his sorry illegal alien ass?

monkman's picture

fuck the neocons

Clowns on Acid's picture

the Neo Cons under Bush are now the neo Bolsheviks under Obama. They just morph whjile their motives and masters remain the same.

GetZeeGold's picture



Perhaps you didn't get the memo.....the neocons are now progressives.

Missiondweller's picture

So Obama is a Neo Con?


WHo the hell are you talking about? Wake up! Its 2014 not 2004.

crunchyfrog's picture

The clown who dictated this article to The Hill is an unreconstructed Bush era Neocon. 

JustObserving's picture

Putin sees Obama as a weak leader. I would point to Syria in particular. We drew a red line and didn’t back it up,”

Obama did his best to start a major war with Syria by lying about the sarin attack but it did not work:

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has published an article demonstrating that the US government and President Barack Obama knowingly lied when they claimed that the Syrian government had carried out a sarin gas attack on insurgent-held areas last August.

In the end, internal differences over the launching of direct military action, compounded by massive popular opposition to another unprovoked war in the Middle East, led the administration to pull back and accept a Russian plan for the dismantling of Syrian chemical weapons. This was followed by the opening of talks with Syria’s main ally in the region, Iran.

Hersh’s account of systematic manipulation of intelligence aimed at dragging the American people into yet another war based on lies underscores the fact that Obama’s retreat in Syria by no means signaled a turn away from militarism. Rather, it reflected a provisional change in tactics in relation to US hegemonic aims in the oil-rich Middle East, and a decision to focus more diplomatic and military resources on Washington’s drive to isolate and contain what it considers more critical antagonists: Russia and, above all, China.