What are the real reasons behind the New Cold War?
The announcement on April 15 by President Biden that this administration was expelling 10 Kremlin diplomats and imposing new sanctions for alleged Russian interference in the 2020 U.S. elections–to which Russia replied with a tit for tat–came just days after the Pentagon conducted military drills in the South China Sea. These actions were but the latest escalation of aggressive posturing as Washington ramps up its “New Cold War” against Russia and China, pushing the world dangerously towards international political and military conflagration.
Most observers attribute this US-instigated war to rivalry and competition over hegemony and international economic control. These factors are important, but there is a bigger picture that has been largely overlooked of what is driving this process: the crisis of global capitalism.
China and Russia’s Dangerous Convergence
On March 23, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, sat down for an auspiciously timed meeting. The high-level talks came just a day after an unusually heated public exchange between senior U.S. and Chinese officials in Anchorage, Alaska, and in sharp contrast, the Chinese and Russian foreign ministers struck an amicable tone. Together, they rejected Western criticism of their human rights records and issued a joint statement offering an alternative vision for global governance. The U.S.-led international order, Lavrov said, “does not represent the will of the international community.”
The meeting was noteworthy for more than its rhetoric, however. Within days of it, Russia began amassing troops along Ukraine’s border—the largest number since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Simultaneously, China began conducting highly publicized amphibious assault exercises and air incursions into Taiwan’s so-called air defense identification zone at the highest frequency in nearly 25 years. These military moves have reignited concerns in Washington about the potential depth of Chinese-Russian coordination.
The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia
This is the remarkable true story of a family during one of the bleakest periods in history, a story that “radiates optimism and the resilience of the human spirit” (Washington Post).
In June 1941, the Rudomin family is arrested by the Russians. They are accused of being capitalists, “enemies of the people.” Forced from their home and friends in Vilna, Poland, they are herded into crowded cattle cars. Their destination: the endless steppe of Siberia.
For five years, Esther and her family live in exile, weeding potato fields, working in the mines, and struggling to stay alive. But in the middle of hardship and oppression, the strength of their small family sustains them and gives them hope for the future.
800 Days on the Eastern Front: A Russian Soldier Remembers World War II (Modern War Studies)
During his 800 days of war, Nikolai Litvin fought at the front lines in the ferocious tank battles at Kursk, was wounded three times, and witnessed unspeakable brutalities against prisoners and civilians. But he survived to pen this brief but powerful memoir of his wartime experiences.
Barely out of his teens, Litvin served for three years in the Red Army on the killing fields of the Eastern Front. His memoir presents an unadorned, candid narrative of the common soldier’s lot in Stalin’s army. Unlike the memoirs of Russian officers—usually preoccupied with large military operations and political concerns—this narrative offers a true ground-level view of World War II’s deadliest theater. It puts a begrimed human face on the enormous toll of casualties and provides a rare perspective on battles that were instrumental in the defeat of the German army.
Hailed as “a lone voice crying out in a moral wilderness” (New Statesman), Anna Politkovskaya made her name with her fearless reporting on the war in Chechnya. Now she turns her steely gaze on the multiple threats to Russian stability, among them President Putin himself.
Putin’s Russia depicts a far-reaching state of decay. Politkovskaya describes an army in which soldiers die from malnutrition, parents must pay bribes to recover their dead sons’ bodies, and conscripts are even hired out as slaves. She exposes rampant corruption in business, government, and the judiciary, where everything from store permits to bus routes to court appointments is for sale. And she offers a scathing condemnation of the ongoing war in Chechnya, where kidnappings, extrajudicial killings, rape, and torture are begetting terrorism rather than fighting it.
The Cold War: A New History
The “dean of Cold War historians” (The New York Times) now presents the definitive account of the global confrontation that dominated the last half of the twentieth century. Drawing on newly opened archives and the reminiscences of the major players, John Lewis Gaddis explains not just what happened but why—from the months in 1945 when the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. went from alliance to antagonism to the barely averted holocaust of the Cuban Missile Crisis to the maneuvers of Nixon and Mao, Reagan and Gorbachev. Brilliant, accessible, almost Shakespearean in its drama, The Cold War stands as a triumphant summation of the era that, more than any other, shaped our own.
A History of Modern Russia: From Nicholas II to Vladimir Putin
Russia had an extraordinary twentieth century, undergoing upheaval and transformation. Updating his acclaimed History of Twentieth-Century Russia through 2002, Robert Service provides a panoramic perspective on a country whose Soviet past encompassed revolution, civil war, mass terror, and two world wars. He shows how seven decades of communist rule, which penetrated every aspect of Soviet life, continue to influence Russia today. This new edition also discusses continuing economic and social difficulties at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the military campaign in Chechnya, and Russia’s reduced role on the world stage.
The Battle of Venezuela (Open Media Series)
In August 2004, the Venezuelan public came out in record numbers to deliver an overwhelming vote of confidence. After many attempts to unseat him, Hugo Chåvez, the former military man who took the country first by coup and then by ballot, again emerged as the people’s choice. It was, in his words, “a victory for the people of Venezuela.”
Yet despite Chåvez’s successes, having defended his post in six referenda, two elections and against one failed coup, Venezuela—one of the world’s largest oil exporting countries—is a nation deeply divided. The power struggle between the country’s first indigenous head of state and his detractors expresses a larger conflict gripping the region.
In The Battle of Venezuela, Guardian reporter Michael McCaughan captures the drama of challenges to Chåvez’s presidency in the courts and on the streets of Caracas. In this detailed analysis of the political forces at work, McCaughan documents the role of the country’s powerful and shrinking middle class, the effects of Chåvez’s social programs for his mainly poor constituents, and the rise of the social movement whose members proclaim themselves “Chåvistas.”
Darkness at Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State
Anticipating a new dawn of freedom after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russians could hardly have foreseen the reality of their future a decade later: a country impoverished and controlled at every level by organized crime. This riveting book views the 1990s reform period through the experiences of individual citizens, revealing the changes that have swept Russia and their effect on Russia’s age-old ways of thinking.
The Oligarchs: Wealth And Power In The New Russia
David Hoffman, former Moscow bureau chief for The Washington Post, sheds light onto the hidden lives of Russia’s most feared power brokers: the oligarchs. Focusing on six of these ruthless men Hoffman reveals how a few players managed to take over Russia’s cash-strapped economy and then divvy it up in loans-for-shares deals.
Before perestroika, these men were normal Soviet citizens, stuck in a dead-end system, claustrophobic apartments, and long bread lines. But as Communism loosened, they found gaps in the economy and reaped huge fortunes by getting their hands on fast money. They were entrepreneurs. As the government weakened and their businesses flourished, they grew greedier. Now the stakes were higher.