OPINION

Cold War scenarios

The events in South Ossetia are too recent to draw any conclusions, but there is room for some initial evaluation because there can be no doubt that Moscow’s new strategic resolve will have an impact on everyone. The first to be affected will be Europe. For the time being, it is adopting the role of observer. It may have plenty of charm but it has no teeth, while it is also beginning to realize that Georgia’s plans for NATO membership or the EU’s desire for alternative energy sources are all up in the air because they have not taken into account Russia’s determination to tighten control of its sphere of influence once more. At the same time, American credibility is on the line because Georgia and many other former Soviet states are coming to see that American protection means nothing when they come up against Russia. No one yet knows the precise implications of this, nor to what extent Georgia and Ukraine will have to join forces against Moscow. The war in the Caucasus may even affect American domestic politics, because in its perennial search for a «bad guy» there are many powerful lobbies within the US that would be happy to cast Russia in that role. The question is whether they will be able to convince the average American that we are on the brink of another Cold War. This is certainly that line that will be adopted by Senator McCain, who took a hard stance against Vladimir Putin and even asked for Russia’s dismissal from the G8. McCain will use such fearmongering to convince the American people that he is more capable of handling an international crisis than his less experienced opponent. If the Republicans do manage to stay in power and the neo-conservative gurus make another appearance in the halls of the White House, then a new Cold War does not seem so unlikely. For the time being, all this is mere speculation because the only certainty is that Russia is determined to become a superpower that once again has a firm hold over its region.