Did someone say Cold War? - YASIN AKTAY

Did someone say Cold War?

In relation my columns on the policies Russia developed in Syria and the position it regained in the global scale post-Cold War, my dear friend Erol Göka asked a question that is on everybody's mind: The Cold War again? In my last column, I had tried to explain, through the Sykes-Picot example, how the general appearance of the international system is increasingly resembling the appearance of the world in the 19th century. Let's elaborate on this a little more today.

The first person to suggest the Cold War term in history was 14th century Spanish writer Don Juan Manuel, who wrote about the Christian-Muslim conflict in his era. Juan Manuel, who joined the 1344 expedition to take Algeciras from the Arabs, is a member of the Castilla dynasty. The term Cold War is mentioned in a dialogue in which a wise Christian gives advice to a young prince on how to wage a war against a Muslim enemy. Juan Manuel, who used the term for enmities that do not turn into close combat, claims that cold wars and close combats differ in the way they end, too, among other aspects. According Juan Manuel, while an extremely tough and close combat ends in death or peace, cold wars bring neither peace nor honor to the parties involved. The Cold War experienced in the 20th century, has, to a degree, been shaped in the sense of the term that did not turn into close combat.

The international system in the 19th century is referred to by international affairs researchers as the Power Balance System. In addition to the four great states within the system, like the Russian Tsardom, Austrian-Hungarian Empire, France, Prussia (Germany, after national unity), that are able to influence the international system, the U.K., which, as well as being a designator at the point of shaping the international affairs of the period and unable to use this power as it desires, is obliged to take into consideration the foreign policy outputs of the other big states.

Germany's catching up in the late 19th century with the U.K. in terms of economic indicators, turned the U.K. into a “relatively equal” player of the Classic Power Balance system. The U.K.'s losing its hegemon quality created a tremor in the classic power balance system.

The alliance agreements that began to shape in Europe with the development that led to the questioning of the U.K.'s position within the system following the inevitable rise of Germany and Germany's institution of its national unity, resulted in World War I.

In the aftermath of the campaign started against Germany which questioned and challenged the U.K.'s position within the system and the “current state of the continent system” in Europe, the U.K. established a “new world order.” The Versailles Treaty signed with Germany was a failed attempt to restrain Germany. Hence, the period between World Wars I and II is referred to in international affairs as the crisis period.

The great economic crisis that broke out in 1929 can be interpreted as an indication of the U.K.'s inability to carry the hegemony any longer. World War II ended with the defeat of axis powers, but European states were at the point of economic collapse. While the war was continuing, the two leading international players of the post-war period started to make themselves obvious.

A new world system was formed through various conferences by the USSR and U.S. As a result, the east and west blocs emerged from states clustered around the two “super powers.” The current international state was called by system analysts as the “bipolar system.”

The most typical characteristic of the bipolar system is that the states are concentrated between the two blocs. Morton Kaplan, an internationa affairs researcher, studied the bipolar system in two separate groups: The Tight Bipolar System and the Loose Bipolar System.

According to Kaplan, in the tight bipolar system, all states are drawn toward one of the poles, with no state remaining outside the blocs. Organization also happens this way. In other words, there are no international organizations that are able to accept members from both poles. Such a system is yet to be tested. The international system historically experienced in world history, is the “loose bipolar system.”

In the loose bipolar system, if the likelihood of one bloc becoming militarily stronger compared to the other, will significantly impact the stability of the system and lead to crises. This is how the “second strike capacity” term, one of the terms that make up the backbone of the Cold War, was formed. The term, is the development of the capacity of the loose bipolar system to respond after an attack by nuclear poles. The side that has second strike capacity will be the winner of the nuclear war. Since we made a start, we are going to need to continue this discussion.


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