Fifty percent of Americans now believe that American and Russian relations are regressing to Cold War status, according to a Gallup poll published Thursday.
Those most concerned about a return to the age of the Iron Curtain are those old enough to remember it vividly. “Older Americans are much more likely than younger Americans to say the U.S. and Russia are heading back toward a Cold War,” Gallup’s Rebecca Riffkin wrote on Thursday, citing that 64 percent of those 65 and older believe in a return of the Cold War.
John R. Schindler, a professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College, is among those who have accepted Russia’s recent behavior as the beginning of a new era of tense relations between the U.S. and Russia.
“With his invasion of Crimea and the instant absorption of the strategic peninsula, Vladimir Putin has shown that he will not play by the West’s rules,” Schindler wrote in Politico Magazine. “The ‘end of history’ is at an end — we’re now seeing the onset of Cold War 2.0.”
The American Spectator’s Aaron Goldstein believes the disconnect between how the East and West interpret Putin’s actions is a sign of more trouble to come. “President Obama might not view Europe as a battleground between East and West, but Vladimir Putin most certainly does. He might also believe the Cold War is over, but Putin most certainly doesn't.”
However, not everyone is as smitten with the rise of Cold War rhetoric as Schindler and Goldstein.
“The Cold War analogy obscures more than it clarifies," The New Republic’s Michael Kimmage wrote on Monday, arguing that the situation is much worse this time around.
“Cold War analogies exaggerate the contemporary stature of Russia and the U.S. alike,” Schindler continues. “Washington and Moscow are no longer what they were from 1945 to 1991, the pivot points of international politics.”
“Many of those who use the term ‘Cold War’ nowadays do so casually to warn against the dangers of a widening Moscow-Washington divide. That's commendable,” Aljazeera’s Marwan Bishara also wrote on Monday. “But the alarmists, who attach a strategic and historic significance to the reference, tend to advocate renewed military build-up in Europe. That's both flawed and dangerous.”