“What we are witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or a passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” These words, written by the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama, who in 1989 published “The End of History,” an article that turned the academic world upside down. “Liberal democracy,” Fukuyama wrote, “replaces the irrational desire to be recognized as greater than others with a rational desire to be recognized as equal.”
Excavations by forensic anthropologists at a notorious military base in Toledo, Uruguay have unearthed human remains. It is likely that the remains are those of one the many victims of the campaign of forced disappearance carried out by the state during the military dictatorship that began five decades ago. The remains are the first to be discovered in over a decade, and a painful reminder of the lengths the military went to permanently disappear dissidents and leftists in a campaign that lasted 12 years. For families of the missing, the news has brought a mix of emotions. This is only the seventh person recovered of the 204 victims who were forcibly disappeared from that brutal period during the Cold War.
Maybe you recall all the post–Cold War talk of a “peace dividend” and maybe you don’t: It depends on when you took up residence on this mortal coil. The term arose as the Soviet Union disintegrated and was commonly mentioned during George H.W. Bush’s presidency, 1989–1993. A dramatic reduction in defense spending, and a corresponding increase in expenditures on education, health care, and so on, was put around as one of Bush I’s outstanding achievements. That was the peace dividend. The thing you need to know about all the talk of a peace dividend back then is that it was all talk. And the thing you need to know now, with Cold War II in more or less full swing and the proxy war against Russia raging in Ukraine, is that there is no longer any need to know anything about the peace dividend.
Maybe it’s the good kind of uranium that turns you into Spider-Man or the Incredible Hulk and not the bad kind of uranium that turns you into Thyroid Cancer Man – one of the lesser-known Marvel superheroes. ProPublica has come out with an investigation entitled “The Cold War Legacy Lurking in U.S. Groundwater.” After World War II, the Cold War started between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. because the rich needed to stop the damn Communists from pushing their furry hats on everyone! There was a feverish need to build loads of nuclear weapons. To do that, the U.S. needed uranium, and its ruling class didn’t care how they got it. More than 50 uranium mines popped up across the Western U.S. But they didn’t just turn our weapons radioactive.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was overthrown in April 2022 in a soft coup supported by the United States. Khan argued that he was targeted due to his independent foreign policy, comparing his ouster to the CIA coup in Iran in 1953. Since leaving office, Khan has held massive protests across the country, blasting the unelected coup regime for surrendering its sovereignty to Washington. “The US has made Pakistan a slave without having to invade it,” Khan fumed. “The people of Pakistan will never accept the imported government.” Khan has also become a leading voice on the international stage calling for the rebirth of the Non-Aligned Movement. He argues that Pakistan should have been non-aligned in the first cold war. And he insists his country must be independent today in the new, second cold war between the US on one side and China and Russia on the other.
China on Thursday denounced a so-called UN human rights report on China’s Xinjiang region as completely invalid and a political tool serving the US and some Western forces to contain China, and said that it proved the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has descended into the accomplice of the US and some Western forces against developing countries. In response to the so-called “assessment of human rights concerns” in China’s Xinjiang released by the OHCHR on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a press conference on Thursday that the so-called assessment is a patchwork of disinformation and a political tool serving the US and some Western forces to contain China by using the Xinjiang topic.
The war in Ukraine has placed U.S. and NATO policy toward Russia under a spotlight, highlighting how the United States and its allies have expanded NATO right up to Russia’s borders, backed a coup and now a proxy war in Ukraine, imposed waves of economic sanctions, and launched a debilitating trillion-dollar arms race. The explicit goal is to pressure, weaken and ultimately eliminate Russia, or a Russia-China partnership, as a strategic competitor to U.S. imperial power. The United States and NATO have used similar forms of force and coercion against many countries. In every case they have been catastrophic for the people directly impacted, whether they achieved their political aims or not. Wars and violent regime changes in Kosovo, Iraq, Haiti and Libya have left them mired in endless corruption, poverty and chaos.
The Cold War, from 1945 to 1989, was a wild Bacchanalia for arms manufacturers, the Pentagon, the CIA, the diplomats who played one country off another on the world’s chess board, and the global corporations able to loot and pillage by equating predatory capitalism with freedom. In the name of national security, the Cold Warriors, many of them self-identified liberals, demonized labor, independent media, human rights organizations, and those who opposed the permanent war economy and the militarization of American society as soft on communism. That is why they have resurrected it. The decision to spurn the possibility of peaceful coexistence with Russia at the end of the Cold War is one of the most egregious crimes of the late 20th century.
I was in Eastern Europe in 1989, reporting on the revolutions that overthrew the ossified communist dictatorships that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was a time of hope. NATO, with the breakup of the Soviet empire, became obsolete. President Mikhail Gorbachev reached out to Washington and Europe to build a new security pact that would include Russia. Secretary of State James Baker in the Reagan administration, along with the West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, assured the Soviet leader that if Germany was unified NATO would not be extended beyond the new borders. The commitment not to expand NATO, also made by Great Britain and France, appeared to herald a new global order.
In the early months of 1947, President Harry Truman and Dean Acheson, his secretary of state, made up their minds to prop up Greece’s openly fascist monarchy against a popular revolt they had cast as a Soviet threat. After much hand-wringing, Truman went to Congress on March 12 to ask for $400 million in aid, not quite $5 billion today when adjusted for inflation. Truman and Acheson knew the Greek intervention would be a hard sell: Congress was in no mood to spend that kind of money, and the war-weary public harbored hope for FDR’s vision of a postwar order built on the principle of peaceful coexistence. As the speech went through its multiple drafts, Arthur Vandenberg, Republican senator from Michigan and a presence in the planning of America’s postwar posture, offered advice that must be counted elegantly forthright, if diabolic in its cynicism.
Dag Hammarskjöld set the standard for integrity and independence that all United Nations secretaries-general are judged against. He pioneered direct diplomacy by a secretary-general to defuse crises, and created U.N. peacekeeping. Hammarskjöld forged an independence between the Cold War powers that upset both and may have led to his death 60 years ago on Saturday. The son of a Swedish prime minister, Hammarskjöld came from a privileged background, unlike the Socialist Trygve Lie, the first secretary-general. Hammarskjöld became a lawyer, an economist, Sweden’s finance minister and was a delegate to the Paris Marshall Plan conference. Hammarskjöld was surprised to be chosen as Lie’s replacement. He was acceptable to both blocs, as he was seen as an apolitical technocrat.
Since the horrific events of Sept. 11, much has been said about the desperate situation of the Afghani people now crushed under the heel of the theocratic, dictatorial Taliban, and about the role of the Northern Alliance and other Taliban opponents who now figure in Washington’s plans for the region. There has been talk, most of it distorted, about the role of the Soviet Union in the years from 1978 to 1989. There has been talk, most of it understated, about the role of the U.S. in building up the Mujahideen forces, including the Taliban.
Since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has adjusted its Doomsday Clock to provide humanity with an expert estimate of just how close all of us are to an apocalyptic “midnight” -- that is, nuclear annihilation. A century ago, there was, of course, no need for such a measure. Back then, the largest explosion ever caused by humans had likely occurred in Halifax, Canada, in 1917, when a munitions ship collided with another vessel, in that city’s harbor. That tragic blast killed nearly 2,000, wounded another 9,000, and left 6,000 homeless, but it didn’t imperil the planet.