should we fear russia?

Cover00_verticalSean Guillory at Bookforum:

Then there's the second question: whether we are in a new Cold War. You can find the Cold War meme at work both among Russia's friends, such as The Nation's Stephen Cohen, and its foes, such as Edward Lucas of The Economist. Like the "Who lost Russia?" question, the ghost of a new Cold War has been haunting us pretty much since the end of the old Cold War. In every dust-up between the US and Russia of the past two decades, one or both sides have charged the other with having a "Cold War mentality" in order to shame and caution them against further escalation. It's a favorite insult, intended to point out the other side's backwardness. Sadly, it's lately begun to feel like rather less of a laughable throwback. The idea of a replay of the Cold War expresses itself as both trauma and desire. A new Cold War is scary because in theory it places the entire world at the mercy of US-Russia relations. By the same token, it's weirdly consoling for both sides, even offering a certain measure of nostalgia. Both powers were at their peak during the Cold War's tensest periods, and both understood the rules of engagement—the Cold War framing restores a sense of familiar, binary order in a rapidly changing world. We shouldn't entirely discount the subconscious appeal a return to that greatness and simplicity might offer, especially at a time when the US and Russia are both experiencing internal shocks, newer powers are on the rise, and there are signs of utter chaos elsewhere.

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