By Adrián Mac Liman *
While outraged Europeans tried to (re) define their already rocky relations with Islam, sometimes confusing terrorism with traditionalism, the Obama Administration's eyes were focused on another battle front: that of the recalcitrant Russia, which, according to US strategists, had engaged in violating the transatlantic security norms contained in the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference, which prohibits the modification of borders through the use of force or threat. For Washington, the annexation of Crimea and the low-intensity conflict in eastern Ukraine constitute flagrant violations of the international commitments made by the Kremlin more than three decades ago.
Yes, it is true: the world has changed. In the 70s of the last century, the confines of the two great blocks were located in the heart of Germany. An artificial division that the West wanted to end. General de Gaulle himself spoke of Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals, of a united Europe. Today, the Atlantic Alliance reaches as far as the Black Sea and the Baltic. Ukraine is still the tampon between Russia and the West. But until when? The European Union injects huge amounts of money to revive the economy of a country that suffers from two great evils: corruption and intolerance. But Ukraine is the linchpin for the offensive eastward, into the den of the Russian bear.
A few weeks ago, following the adoption of the umpteenth round of sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama Administration and its European allies, President Putin announced a change of course in the Kremlin's foreign policy. The message was both simple and firm: “Do not use force against Russia; we are not going to kneel before foreign powers ”. The facts accompanied the words. Submarines in the territorial waters of neighboring countries, flights of recognition in the airspace of the members of the Alliance, military maneuvers with conventional weapons and… nuclear missiles. As if that were not enough, Russia intends to modernize its arsenal of ballistic missiles; North America announces the redeployment of its own nuclear warheads on European soil. Washington accuses Moscow of having violated the Treaty on Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF), signed by the superpowers in 1987. For its part, the Kremlin alludes to multiple US transgressions, which the Pentagon strongly denies. Mistrust reigns.
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger used to assert that the world order depends on a subtle hodgepodge of Power and Legitimacy. It seems that this formula is no longer valid. Western analysts estimate, for their part, that Putin "does not rule out the use of force", considering that war is a legitimate and rational component, a mere continuation of politics employing others media.
It should be noted that the Obama Administration chose not to give the note in the East of the Old Continent, sending the undersecretary of State for European Affairs, Victoria Nuland, to the front line countries. Its mission: to persuade Washington's new allies that it is necessary to accept the presence of missile shield installations in their territory, increase defense budgets and practice transparency policies. They are duties imposed: the price you have to pay for being on the… side of the good guys.
Disappoint yourself, dear reader: this is not just another episode of the cold war. It is more like a fiery conflict. With the aggravating factor that this time the nuclear threat looms again on the horizon.