Who really won the Cold War? Today's politics create doubt.
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In 1989 the Berlin wall tumbled like Humpty Dumpty amid a joyous celebration in Germany and across the West. The symbol of the Russian Communist dictatorship was blasted into bits of concrete. In the subsequent couple of years those states caught in the grip of the Soviet orbit seceded reducing the Russian population by about 150 million people.

NATO expanded to embrace many of these former states including the Baltic nations contiguous to Mother Russia. While the West viewed this new reality with promise liberal democracy would spread, former KGB officials regarded this defeat as humiliation, a humiliation that had to be redressed.

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The accession of Vladimir Putin into a leadership position was a clear signal KGB operatives were intent on reclaiming the so-called “Near-Abroad” and extending Russian influence into areas from which it was formerly ousted.

 

This plan, transparent from the outset was assisted inadvertently or perhaps directly by the Obama administration that “reset” policy towards Russia by remaining “flexible,” another word for accepting Russian goals.

In fact, when President Obama refused to act on his own “red line” over Bashar al Assad’s use of poison gas, he invited the Russians to adjudicate the matter handing Putin a diplomatic victory and a legitimate pathway into Middle East politics.

Putin seized every opportunity. Signs of U.S. withdrawal from the region, offered Russia the chance to align itself with Iran and Hezbollah and fill the U.S. created vacuum, including naval dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In the ensuing months, Russian air superiority over Syria gained one victory after another for pro-Assad forces until the final blow – the bombing of Aleppo, a massacre as noteworthy as the killing fields in Cambodia.

But aside from meaningless disapproval in the United Nations, Russian power was ascendant with impunity from the world community.

A Russia dying from within as an economy reliant solely on the price of fossil fuels, is emerging as a dominant and growing force from without through its successful foreign policy.

Even NATO, the bulwark against potential Russian aggression, is now challenged by Putin’s claims of ethnic unification and the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons.

At the end of the Cold War, Marxism Leninism was a standard joke in East Europe with Karl Marx cited as the fifth Marx brother. Yet remarkably communist ideology is now making a comeback.

In the last U.S. presidential election Bernie SandersBernie SandersHarry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' The exhaustion of Democrats' anti-Trump delusions Warren offers plan to repeal 1994 crime law authored by Biden MORE, an avowed and unapologetic socialist, garnered more than 43 percent of Democratic primary voters by advocating extensive government control of the economy. The chairwoman of the National Democratic Party, when asked to distinguish between socialism and Democratic politics was unable to do so.

Should Marine Le Pen win the French presidential election, it is likely France will drop out of the European Union and tilt towards a rapprochement with Russia. She is certainly not alone as far-right parties in Austria, Hungary, and Germany indicate.

In our own country, it is revealing that a 2015 national Reason-Rupe survey found that 53 percent of Americans under 30 have a favorable view of socialism compared with less than a third of those over 30.

Moreover, Gallup has found in 2015 that 69 percent of millennials say they’d be willing to vote for a “socialist” candidate for president.

If the question of victory in the Cold War is addressed seriously and if Putin is regarded as the KGB heir of communism – a debatable but I believe accurate point – there is a plausible case to be made for Russia’s victory. After all, Obama’s America is in retreat on the world stage; Russia is rising. Russia is the “strong horse” in the Middle East; the U.S. is irrelevant. The ideology that inspired the American founding is receiving scant attention, while socialism is gaining adherents.

This is certainly not an inexorable historical course, but it does require attention and that starts with recognition of the problem. The U.S. cannot rest on its belief that it won the Cold War when that war is still unfolding. America is a resilient nation, but it is time for that resilience to be on display in defense of American interests, foreign policy and principles of liberty.

Herbert London is the president of the London Center for Policy Research, which conducts research on the key policy issues of our time: national security, energy, and risk analysis. He formerly served on the Board of Governors at St. John’s College, the Board of Overseers at the Center for Naval Analyses and the board of the Hudson Institute.


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