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New Cold War

The American official has articulated distressing thoughts on what he acknowledged was a “proud moment” in history.

Editorial | New Delhi |

It was a moment in history, pre-eminently the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall ~ a spectacular event that had united East and West Germany, and at least theoretically signified the end of the Cold War. More the surprise, therefore, that the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo’s presentation in Berlin on Friday was direly suggestive of a New Cold War between the United States of America, Russia and China. True, the game theory’s evolution has in recent years been dramatic in different parts of the world.

But was it really necessary for Mr Pompeo to utilise this occasion to warn of the dangers posed by Russia and China? He has even called on Nato to “grow and confront the challenges of today”. As the hostess given to international cooperation, German Chancellor Angela Merkel might arguably have been more than a mite embarrassed. Pompeo’s address was intrinsically an exercise in debunking, of a kind that underwhelmed the importance of the end of the Cold War.

Not that he was factually off the mark; but the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall was scarcely the occasion to wax indignant over the irritants of the present. The United States of America could well have chosen a separate forum to bare its angst. Mr Pompeo said methods used by China to suppress its own people would be “horrifyingly familiar” to East Germans. He accused Russia of invading its neighbours and crushing dissent. And scoffed at certain comments made by the French President, Emmanuel Macron, that Nato was “brain dead”.

He said: “Seventy years on, Nato needs to grow and change. It needs to confront the realities of today and the challenges of today”. In context, it would be pertinent to recall that Donald Trump, in course of his election campaign had lampooned the United Nations as an “anachronism”. As President, Mr Trump has frequently accused European Nato members of failing to provide their fair share of military spending and of relying too heavily on the US for their defence. “If nations believe that they can get the security benefit without providing Nato the resources that it needs, if they don’t live up to their commitments, there is a risk that Nato could become ineffective or obsolete,” was Mr Pompeo’s take in Berlin on Friday, a day before the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The American official has articulated distressing thoughts on what he acknowledged was a “proud moment” in history. Yet Mr Pompeo could well have reserved his swipe at Vladimir Putin for some other occasion. “Today, Russia ~ led by a former KGB officer once stationed in Dresden ~ invades its neighbours and slays political opponents.” Thirty years after the end of the Cold War, a concerted effort by the USA, Russia and China to forestall a recurrence of what has been referred to as the “New Cold War” is more than imperative. Mr Pompeo will now be expected to dwell on America’s culpability as well as responsibility.