Cold War Comforts

In the aftermath of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, US President Barack Obama has sough to assure the world that a new Cold War is not at hand. But, in many ways, the Cold War made things easier for US presidents.

NEW YORK – Western relations with Russia have rarely been worse than they are now, in the aftermath of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intervention in Ukraine and decision to annex Crimea. But US President Barack Obama has sought to assure the world that this is not the beginning of a new Cold War.

Even so, hawkish American liberals and hardline conservatives are comparing Obama’s leadership unfavorably with supposedly tougher presidents like Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. Never mind that Eisenhower did nothing to stop Soviet tanks from crushing the Hungarian uprising in 1956, or that Reagan had no intention of supporting Solidarity activists when they rose against Poland’s communist regime.

In many ways, the Cold War made things easier for US presidents. There were only two great powers – China did not really count until recently – and their spheres of interest were clearly defined. The Soviet Union’s ruling ideology was equally clear: a Stalinist version of Communism.

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