Cold War Rekindled?
Evan McKenzie. Evan McKenzie is a professor of political science ., The Christian Science Monitor
OPPONENTS of the war in the Persian Gulf have warned against the danger of setting in motion forces that the United States neither understands nor controls. Many fear widespread radicalism in the Arab world and toppling of pro-Western governments, coupled with worldwide terrorism. These may yet come to pass - but the most disturbing and unintended consequence may be developing in the Soviet Union. The Bush administration may have inadvertently provoked a resumption of the cold war:
- By prosecuting a massive air war against Iraq's military and industrial capability instead of directly liberating Kuwait.
- By issuing statements indicating an intention to maintain a long-term presence in the Middle East.
- By inadvertently inflicting highly visible civilian casualties in Baghdad.
The Bush administration may have done what even the most conservative analysts thought impossible only a year ago. The hands of hard-liners in the Soviet military and intelligence communities has been strengthened by what looks to them like US expansionism in an area which has long been considered critical to Soviet security.
The war with Iraq has given new credibility to those in the Soviet Union who have been calling the US an expansionist and imperialist power which can't be trusted. This faction - which can fairly be called Stalinist - has been relatively quiet during most of Gorbachev's rule. Yet it has been noticeably resurgent recently in the harsh treatment of the Baltic states and policy statements suggesting the US may be exceeding the United Nations resolutions in its prosecution of the war. And most recently it was evident in the improbable - if not laughable - allegation that "unnamed Western banks" had tried to further disrupt the Soviet economy.
One distinguishing characteristic of American foreign policy has been a consistent failure - or unwillingness - to understand and appreciate other cultures and political systems. …