On February 17 of this year Kosovo, with the urging and support of the United States and many western nations, declared independence from Serbia, a long time ally of Russia. For many, particularly those in the west, the declaration was welcome. But for others, mainly Russia, it was taken as a slap to the face. The United States had humiliated Russia by influencing and controlling events in Eastern Europe, Russia's back yard and an area that is traditionally in their sphere of influence.
Kosovo's independence was the latest in a series of Russian humiliations dealt by the United States and its allies. They had seriously eroded their sphere of influence and had demonstrated that they, not Russia, were now the dominant regional powers. Russia was now forced with a decision; allow the United States, NATO, and the west to continue to destroy their influence, or fight back. Russia's reaction to the South Ossetian crisis demonstrated their decision.
Russia planned the whole war as a set up for Georgia and the United States. Russian actions have been aimed at artificially escalating the tensions between Georgia and the separatist republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and giving them a reason to "intervene." They had planned their attack on Georgia long before the war started, which is why they were able to react to Georgia and defeat them so quickly and were able to coordinate their efforts with the separatists.
Russia humiliated NATO and the United States; they attacked a NATO candidate and an ally of the United States and demonstrated how helpless we were to stop them; they have failed to abide by the conditions of the ceasefire and have been unfazed by western threats; they reasserted their dominance over the Caucasus and reasserted their positions as a regional, if not a global, rival to the United States.
All of Russia's actions have been motivated by the past actions of the United States. We also artificially increased the tensions between nations by recognizing Kosovo earlier this year. We proved then to Russia that we could humiliate them in their own back yard. We sent them the message that we, not them, were the dominate power. Unfortunately, we did not anticipate that Russia could play our game, and beat us at it too.
In the big scheme of things, Kosovo, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia do not matter. But how the United States and Russia reacted to them does matter. The United States and its allies have been humiliated, just as we humiliated Russia before. International Relations will change now. The United States and Russia will continue to vie for power in regions that were traditionally under the influence of the other. America must prove that we are still the indomitable world superpower, and Russia must prove that they are once again our equal. Both nations will compete for economic, political and military influence all over the world.
Sound familiar? This is essentially what the Cold War was and Russia wants that world back; a world where they are equal to America, a world where they are feared and respected, a world where they are free to do as they please. It means a much more dangerous world for the United States and all of humanity. Unless the US and its allies are careful and react to the next crisis quickly and responsibly, it will only be a matter of time until we are plunged into the Second Cold War. I hope our next president, whoever he may be, will reflect on the events of the last few weeks and understand exactly what we face and are threatened with.