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Issue #1670      January 28, 2015

Culture & Life

The Cold War renewed

Let’s get one thing clear: the Cold War never ended. It never even went away. It just changed tactics for a while. With Gorbachev doing their job for them, the USA and the other imperialist countries could afford to pose as peace-loving champions of friendly relations between all countries.

Meanwhile Gorbachev dissolved the USSR (despite a plebiscite specifically rejecting that proposal) while every self-seeking opportunist in a position of power or influence seized public property as their own personal possession, whether it was a large chunk of the USSR’s oil industry or – in Gorbachev’s case – the Lenin Institute (to Gorby’s chagrin, they made him give that back).

But Gorby wasn’t the only thief with a big appetite determined to loot the USSR of its publicly-owned assets. By the time they had finished, and Gorby’s successor the venal Boris Yeltsin and his cohorts had been shown the door, the country had lost more wealth than had been lost to the ravages of the Nazi invasion in WW2!

The Western imperialist powers were heavily involved in this wholesale looting of the assets built up in Russia and Eastern Europe under Socialism. Inventions and patents, scientific discoveries, entire research units were taken abroad to be exploited for profit. This too was a stage of the Cold War, a form of aggression without an actual invasion.

The change from Yeltsin to Putin and Medvedev did not disturb the Western powers at first. They thought it would be business as usual, but it was not long before they were disabused of that notion. The former KGB officer filled his cabinet with other former KGB officers, revived Soviet symbols and emblems, and took action against some of the oligarchs to recover the assets they’d looted.

Before long, Putin himself had become a new front in the renewed Cold War. Lampooned and ridiculed for his muscular athleticism, he is simultaneously attacked for displaying what Western propaganda calls “Soviet nostalgia”. He is clearly well aware that Russia, shorn of several former Soviet republics as well as all the stolen assets referred to previously, is not the Superpower the USSR was.

Nevertheless, he has linked Russia with the other Cold War target, China, in a number of regional and international agreements that directly challenge imperialist domination of the global economy: chief among these is the BRICS trade grouping that brings together the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

While the US and its NATO allies are busy moving their military right up to the borders of Russia – into Moldova, Ukraine, Poland, Romania – they are also striving to surround China, from Afghanistan to South Korea to Japan. The latter country is encouraged to engage in sabre-rattling against China over some tiny insignificant islands, while steadfastly refusing to acknowledge its wartime atrocities against the Chinese people.

In a typical Cold War tactic, prominent US think-tank publications run provocative feature articles on “Why the US will have to fight China”, and Western media constantly plugs the line that the US must prepare to meet the rising “threat” from China. Chinese investment in the US is frequently blocked by the US Congress even as US businesses have become heavily dependent on Chinese production.

Russia, China and the other BRICS countries are not just passively enduring this renewed Cold War: they are actively defying the US and its European partners. They have set up their own bank to support global trade, as an alternative to the World Bank and the IMF, which institutions function all too often as tools (or blunt instruments) of Western imperialism.

Australia’s economy is heavily dependent on our trade with China, but Australian imperialism is nevertheless eagerly backing America’s preparations for war with the Asian powerhouse. The Australian military trains regularly with its US equivalent rehearsing amphibious landings on the coast of China, rehearsing for actual war with China. Meanwhile, they prepare the public for a war by constantly harping on Cold War propaganda.

The Australian Financial Review on January 5, 2015 featured a substantial contribution to this renewed Cold War. Sourced from the USA (where else?), it was ostensibly a book review, of a new book, China 1945: Mao’s Revolution and America’s Fateful Choice, by a former Time journalist, Richard Bernstein. However, Bernstein’s hostility towards his subject is so extreme the book smacks of the worst excesses of the Cold War propaganda dished out in the 1950s.

Such crudities as “Mao and Stalin, two of the greatest masters of deception that the world has ever known”. China’s exceptional Premier, Zhou Enlai, also cops a serve: “Zhou cut his teeth in the late 1920s … as the head of a Communist hit squad.” Pardon? A Communist what? This clown has our movement confused with Al Capone – or possibly with the regime of Barack Obama.

The review makes the insulting assertion that “it was Zhou’s peculiar mix of treachery and charm that makes him such an enthralling character”. The review also manages to call Russia’s President Putin “a thug”.

Apart from name-calling, the main thrust of the article is to depict US-China relations as “souring”, claiming that “Polling by the Pew Research Centre shows a significant dip in Americans’ ‘favourable’ opinions towards China. … American businesses, long the bulwark of warm feelings for the authoritarian government across the Pacific, are souring on China too, as the Chinese government and its agents pilfer United States technology and use a variety of tactics – some of them sleazy – to out-compete US firms.”

The refusal of the US to sell technology to China (the way they used to refuse to sell it to the USSR) is itself a Cold War tactic.

Cold War actions – whether blockades or lying propaganda – are designed to provoke people to hate and fear the people and especially the government in the target country. Their leaders are demonised, their culture derided, their achievements belittled.

And the horrifying aim is to prepare the people to accept the prospect of all-out war against US imperialism’s main rivals.

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