Why we must take the new cold war seriously

Far from the hushed exchanges that usually take place at diplomatic summits, the meeting, which took place in Alaska, was more than icy. On March 18, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken exchanged bird names with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, during their discussion on neutral ground in Anchorage. In front of the cameras, the two men engaged with rare vehemence in a war of positions, the American accusing China of“Acts which threaten world stability” when the Chinese denounced the will of the United States to“Impose their own democracy on the rest of the world”.

Rarely has the opposition of two antagonistic blocs, competing for hegemony over the rest of the globe, been so openly displayed: while the concept of the cold war was relegated to the oblivion of history since the collapse of the Soviet bloc, Here he is again summoned to describe the brutal confrontation which now structures international power relations.

China-Russia vs. United States: the new cold war has begun

In the past few months, the fog that the Trump years had kept in the world order has dissipated. If the former American president showed great complacency towards Russia and autocratic regimes, no more ambiguity now exists: a frontal war of influence is being played out between, on the one hand, the United States and its allies, notably Europeans, and, on the other, China and Russia, supported by Iran.

In recent weeks, skirmishes have increased. Sanctions of Chinese leaders by the United States in condemnation of the violent repression of the Uighurs; serious violation of Taiwanese airspace by China after the island had just signed an enhanced security cooperation agreement with the Americans; resumption of tensions between Ukraine and Russia in the Donbass; brutal kidnapping, by Belarus, of an opposition journalist by the hijacking of an airliner in the face and beard of Europeans.

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Jim Townsend: “The United States faces two potential adversaries on two fronts”

Block against block, these are two visions of the world, two forms of political regime with irreconcilable interests that clash. The time when the Western camp, in the wake of the fall of the Wall, naively decreed ” the end of the story “ and the advent, sooner or later, of democracy in the wake of the liberal economy. Today, the United States and its allies are forced to note that the rule of law, far from being the majority in the world, is contested, even rejected by the growing influence of illiberal countries.

Joe Biden was the first to sound the alarm in February: “Democracies are under attack”, he alerted before assuring his allies that “America is back”. He drove home the point on June 6, in a tribune at the “Washington Post”, a few days before his meeting with Vladimir Putin, scheduled for June 16: “There will be no doubt about the resolve of the United States to defend our democratic values”, he says, promising to consolidate his « alliances » in the face of growing threats from Moscow and Beijing.

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These statements are not just a facade. Because the Western countries are now attacked on their own ground, as we saw with the serious interference of Russian hackers in the American poll of 2016. Computer attacks and cyberwar, infiltration of the institutions, campaign of intoxication and of fake news : both Russia and China use all modern techniques of destabilization, which in no way exclude the good old criminal methods such as attempts to poison Russian opponents in Europe.

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In France, Russian influence is exerted via the obliging media and political relays, many of which play into the hands of the extreme right. The new cold war must be taken seriously because it is now played out at home: against the spies who come from the cold, the weapons of democracy that are freedom of expression, the power of the press and support for opponents of regimes. bosses are more important than ever.

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