The term “cold war” was coined by essayist, journalist and legendary author George Orwell in 1945. Orwell defined a cold war as a nuclear stalemate between “two or three monstrous super-states, each possessed of a weapon by which millions of people can be wiped out in a few seconds.”
Eventually, his term was adopted in the context of the post-World War II tensions between the Soviet Union in one corner and America and Britain in the other.
The proper noun “Cold War” as we know it was in full swing between 1947 and 1948 when the U.S. provided aid to western Europe as part of the Marshall Plan. Thus, western Europe fell under American influence. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union was hungry to dominate eastern Europe.
On Feb. 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. Since then, the U.S. has sent billions of dollars in weapons, such as javelin missiles, tactical drones and ammunition, along with funding to Ukraine.
Although not identical to the Cold War, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is undoubtedly the most similar situation to occur since the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the Cold War to an end in 1962.
Physically, this war exists between Russia and Ukraine. However, Ukraine is also a proxy state where the U.S. sends weaponry and aid to fight Russia. Between the history of competition between Russia and the U.S. and the current tumultuous relationship, there is a clear struggle between the two countries. But, it’s a struggle that has so far avoided all-out war.
There are also major differences in the circumstances surrounding today’s situation and the Cold War, specifically in Russia’s intentions in attacking Ukraine. Putin has called the breakdown of the Soviet Union the 20th century’s “greatest geopolitical catastrophe.” By attempting to take back what was Soviet territory, he is implying – intentionally or not – something greater.
However, this greater suggestion is not communism but regaining territory and strengthening the Russian state as a show of power and control. What remains the same here is the presence of authoritarian leaders.
Although Russia is no longer a communist state, it is a global power with a nuclear arsenal led by an unpredictable authoritarian with a chip on his shoulder. Russia is just as politically insecure today as it was over 70 years ago.
Ultimately, we are not experiencing Cold War II, but a cold war by Orwell’s definition that once again seems to play out in the East versus West dynamic. Russia’s use of nuclear bombs would mean destruction on an unimaginably devastating scale and imminent economic and political suicide for the country. For this reason, the conflict between Russia and the U.S. will remain cold, but the war between Russia and Ukraine is scalding hot.
Megan Diehl is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views expressed in this homework do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Megan? Email her email@example.com.
Assistant Opinion Editor