Tag Archives: Vladimir Putin

A New Cold War?

27 Mar

I was recently asked to offer some commentary for this BBC piece on whether or not we’re in a new Cold War. Obviously, such articles can only use a tiny fraction of the submitted information, so I thought I’d place my full responses here. The questions are those posed by the BBC and, of course, all of my thoughts can and should be contested.

1) When would you say Cold War tensions peaked and why?

The period that we call the Cold War had deep roots in the nineteenth century, and more immediate roots in the period from the 1917 Russian Revolution onwards. It emerged after World War Two as the result of misperception, misunderstanding, ideological fixation, economic tension, and – crucially – the decisions of key individuals such as US president Harry Truman and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. It’s a handy term that covers the period from the mid-1940s to the late 1990s, encompassing the confrontation between the two major (at the time) ideological systems of liberal capitalism and collectivist communism. It was not the only major feature of the period, but it came to be entangled with other facets of the post-World War Two world such as decolonisation and the emergence of newly independent, formerly colonised, states.

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The Misrepresentation of Nuclear Things

31 Jan
Front cover of Metro, Wednesday, January 28, 2015.

Front cover of Metro, Wednesday, January 28, 2015.

This post was inspired the coincidence of two things, one good, one depressingly bad. Firstly, I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading Gabrielle Hecht’s excellent article ‘The Power of Nuclear Things‘ (the article kindly and conveniently made available to all on Prof. Hecht’s personal website).[1] Secondly, I most certainly did not enjoy the sight of free newsheet Metro’s front page on Wednesday January 28 (see image to the right).

It’s not often you get to bring together the work of an esteemed scholar and the comment-baiting scare quotes of a – let’s not mince words here – paper that is down-market of the Daily Mail (if such a thing is possible).[2] That being said, I would suggest that Hecht’s analysis (more on that below) offers us a useful critical framework for understanding this faintly ridiculous front page.

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