Is there a new cold war?


  • Martin Upchurch


Over the last few months there has been speculationthat the world has now entered a new period ofCold War. Serious mainstream journals suchas the US-based journal The Nation have referred tothe escalating nuclear arms race, the expansion ofNATO territory to Russia’s borders, Putin’s successfulannexation of Crimea, internet hacking accusations,and the expulsion of Russian diplomats following thepoisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughteras reasons for concern at the territorial ambitionsof both Trump and Putin. Writing in the UK-basedNew Statesman Professor of War Studies LawrenceFreedman develops an additional argument thatCold War 2.0 is essentially a product of the internetage, offering some continuity with Cold War 1.0, butratcheted up by the power of propaganda and (dis)information through the web. In pursuing his argument Freedman presses the point that ‘Western governmentsare never going to be much good at state-sponsoredinformation campaigns. It is worth noting, however,that the Russians are convinced that the West is quitebrilliant at undermining governments this way, citing asexamples the Arab Spring of 2010/11, demonstrationsagainst Putin in Moscow in 2011, and the uprisingin Ukraine in 2014 (indicating their difficulty inbelieving that popular movements can develop withoutsubstantial help from foreign agents).’