A return to the Cold War?

25 years ago I was in Soul and watching the Berlin wall coming down on television in my hotel room. It was a time for great hopes and expectations. Many things have since then changed for the better, but not as much as we then hoped.

The collapse of Communist oneparty dictatorships was a good and welcome event for those it liberated, even if many today may be disappointed by the redistribution of collective wealth which created the oligarch economy under the trappings of a supposedly free market economy. Nor does democracy seem to be firmly entrenched in all the Central and East European countries which ended up in the European Union, not to mention Russia.

In the West the collapse of Communist rule removed the real or perceived spectre of revolution and the restraints it had imposed on how the weakest and least favoured people in market capitalism could be treated. The whole of the left, including Social-Democrats, who had been in the frontline in containing Communism, was driven into the corner. The pendulum swung far to the right with neoliberalism taking the lead under the banner of Thatcherism and reaganism It is only now that we are returning to a more balanced situation after the costly experiments, financial crisis and redistribution of wealth and income into ever fewer hands.

We have not seen the End of History as prophesied by Frances Fukuyama. The world today is facing a wide array of both old and new threats to security. And neither are we any closer to achieving sustainable development then 25 yards ago, even if are more aware of the existentialist threat the lack of it entails.

Even in Europe power politics has not been relegated to history, as the reports of continuing fighting in Ukraine tell. With all the increasing tensions and military posing people ask are we seeing a return to the Cold War? I don’t believe this yet, for many reasons. One cannot base any global divisions on ideology any longer. Moreover, unlike during the previous Cold War, the rest of the world is not going to acquiesce in a global division of the world which left very little space for manoeuvre for neutral countries like Finland.

Like it or not we are living in a world of interdependence. Without global cooperation there is no possibility of successfully dealing with new threats to our common security or reaching sustainable development before it is too late, What we now need is exceptionally clear vision and diplomatic skills to stave off the worst-case scenarios on offer.

10.11. 2014