Op-Ed (GPA) – The US threatening to abandon the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) has given rise to different speculations about a new era of “cold war” between the US and Russia.
However, reusing the word “Cold War” is definitely a strategic mistake as the two concepts are clearly different and have different consequences for peace and security in both Europe and the world. The original “Cold war” was based on ideological disagreement backed up by military support; it was aimed at finding political solutions and the two sides’ activities were controlled so that a nuclear disaster is prevented. In the “Cold War” era the world moved from war to peace but the current new round of conflicts is leading the world from peace toward war.
The INF, signed in 1987 between the US and Russia, was in accordance with the goals of Helsinki Accords and restored relevant stability in Europe after years of dispute. For four decades, INF Treaty was among the most important foundations of strategic security in Europe and had ensured the security of the former West European countries as they were the intermediate regions between the two opposing sides. The treaty prevented the possible occurrence of any crises which could encourage the establishment of ideologies such as “mass murder” and “the first strike strategy” that could lead to the destruction of Europe.
Despite the efforts during the cold war era to prevent a nuclear war in Europe, the conflicts between the Russian military power and the U.S. economic and military power were not resolved. Regional disruptions such as Crimea occupation and the current tensions in Baltics and Balkans could be posing serious threats to Europe’s security and put the region’s peace under risk.
Some analysts think that Russian incursions into Georgia and Crimea and its intervention in the humanitarian crisis in Syria might have been the beginning of the lost trust between the west and the east. But in reality, even before all these crises, the relations between Europe and the U.S. had already been damaged due to the Enlargement of NATO. The Russians believed that the Enlargement of NATO and the US renovation of its missile defense systems have disrupted the security in Europe which was based on agreements made during the cold war era; consequently, they have to move toward producing more advanced weapons in order to restore the balance of power in between the nations.
Over the past years, due to violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty NPT by both US and Russia in response, and with many countries achieving the advanced missile technology, it seems that all countries in the world with any level of military power are now mere targets for each other.
Advanced weapons, easy access to information and cyber-attacks have completely changed the nature of interaction and conflicts between the west and the east, creating an environment that is completely different from the second half of the twentieth century. The hostility between U.S and Russia has become so deep that it is no longer limited to fighting over their claims for leading the world and the tension has reached the point that is now putting the peace and security of Europe and the world at risk.
In their recent conflicts, the two sides have now torn down the iron curtains of the Cold War and are displaying their most advanced nuclear missiles and weapons. They are now abandoning the treaties that controlled missiles and nuclear weapons and have undermined the preventive measures and have, to the same extent, threatened the world security.
In the new era of conflicts between the US and Russia, the two countries will devise their strategies and make their decisions based on their renewed hostility where they see to their benefit by using nuclear weapons and triggering unconventional wars in a world filled with animosity.
Russia has now displayed the explosion power of its Poseidon Nuclear Torpedo in Bermuda Triangle, saying that the torpedo can bury the US underwater in a way that the residents will experience something resembling the dinosaurs’ extinction.
The US, on the other hand, has responded with reinstalling the “star wars” project and threatening Russia with total annihilation, arguing that Russia is not an economic power, so the US hopes that it can force Russia into experiencing a second dissolution under the burden of the sanctions and losing all its military power as well.
Among these tensions, Europe will get caught up in the battles between the US and Russia, as it also did during the cold war. This will make Europe like a hostage who cannot take any effective action and has to remain a mere observer in any possible coming wars and a victim if any of the two opposing sides resort into using the mass murder weapons. Now that both the US and Russia have announced that they will withdraw from INFT, Europe has only one option to get out of this political distress and that is the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
The OSCE was mainly concerned with security issues and the relations between the US and Russia. The organization played a key role in ending the cold war and helped Europe turn into an independent political player in security issues based on Paris Charter. Finally, The Charter of Paris for a New Europe was signed in 1990 by its 34 member countries.
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Hoping to separate Europe from the US, Russia withdrew from OSCE in 2015, saying that the Paris Charter had been violated by the US and NATO and claiming that peace in Europe will be gained by collaborating with Russia, not by opposing the country.
The US, on the other hand, wanted to prevent European countries from having a unified comment about U.S. policies, so it ran an international summit for foreign ministers in Warsaw from February 13 to 14 that practically undermined the INF. The US, with abandoning Paris and UNESCO treaties practically compromised the role of European activities in political and international domains. This caused a schism among European countries that will have detrimental effects on the decisions of the European Union in future in different political and economic fields.
Now that after half a century, Europe is losing its traditional role in establishing and maintaining the peace and security of the green continent, it has to compensate for its past failures and tap into its potential abilities to form friendly relationships with all countries regardless of the endless arms race between U.S. and Russia. To do so, Europe should gain international trust by collaborating in resolving the intraregional and interregional crises such as the refugee crisis, terrorisms as well as the violation of human rights and democracy all around the world.
Otherwise, Europe already troubled by Brexit and Nationalistic populism will be conflicted even more by getting stuck in the labyrinth of the arms race between Russia and the US, the Ukraine crisis, and Washington’s extensive sanctions against Russia that have already done damage to Europe’s economy. This would cause Europe to lose its power in taking independent measures for a long period of time.
Europe must understand that the period of sustaining security inside the framework of arms race has come to an end and the ones engaged in the arms race are no longer much interested in political solutions. This will jeopardize world peace, weakens Europe’s international role, increases military threats and reduce peace and security in Europe.
This post was contributed by a Geopolitics Alert reader. Opinions expressed in the above post are those of the author and may not reflect Geopolitics Alert’s editorial views.