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From my understanding the "Cold War" was not really a war in the traditional sense, but a term to describe the tension between the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. as they attempted to destabilise and weaken each other.

The recent evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election suggests that Russia is still actively working to destabilise and weaken the U.S.A.

I understand the "Cold War" is also used to describe "capitalism vs communism" but with the key protagonist countries basically the same in 2018, is this a case of "Cold War 2"?

Or is this sort of international espionage and political interference an ongoing common occurrence with this particular action more noticeable because of it's high profile and apparent success?

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No. Cold War was the result of understanding that any armed conflict between US and USSR would lead to a nuclear exchange. So no traditional armies could be allowed to fight each other. Even before the point when mutually assured destruction became a certainty because of the sheer number of nuclear bombs on both sides, any military exchange between the 2 countries had the risk of escalating into a nuclear exchange. So the doctrine of the time was to only allow proxy nations fight each other.

In other words, the emphasis in the Cold War was not on the "war" part, but on the "cold" part. The state of ideological enmity was implied, so it was important to keep the level of tensions down in order to keep the war cold.

Since Russian Federation is not USSR and does not view US as its ideological enemy, nor does either country seek a complete destruction of the other, the current exchange between the countries is not at the level of hostilities, but more on the level of mutual spying.

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  • Thank you. There's a couple of excellent answers to my question but your one resonated the most with me. – BaronGrivet Feb 20 '18 at 23:06
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No. You need to remember that the Cold War wasn't just between the US and USSR, they were just the most powerful players. It was fundamentally a clash of ideologies, between all the countries in the Communist sphere, and those that didn't want to be. So even when there were conflicts between players on the same side, for instance the USSR/China conflicts, that ideological difference remained paramount.

The current situation with the US & Russia is simply geopolitics as usual, much closer to say the British/French divide pre- and post- Napoleon, or German-British conflicts leading up to WWI. Or you might compare WWI (just politics, basically) with WWII in Europe, rooted in the Nazi ideology.

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Plagiarizing from my own History.SE answer to a very similar question:

If you go by official definition (e.g. on Wikipedia), then the Cold War - defined as geopolitical conflict between USSR-led communist block and Western democracies - was officially over December 25, 1991 with the dissolution of the USSR.

However, if you see Cold War merely as a specific manifestation of a generic geopolitical conflict between Russian interest to create a defensible empire, and US interest to prevent a creation of a powerful Eurasian empire combining Russia's natural resources and European resources, then you will see why current events show a marked resemblance to Cold War. Because the geopolitical conflict didn't change at all even though specific political/economic regime in Russia was gone to a certain degree. And that conflict didn't even start in 1945 - an earlier iteration of it was The Great Game in 19th century.

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  • Source: about a gajillion of StarFor podcasts and articles over last 5 years. – user4012 Feb 20 '18 at 1:45
  • @grovkin, they was some rumors pointing that you are right. Also they were others rumors than some revelations on Clinton were not made by russians but by some intelligence agencies that did not wish her to be elected. – xrorox Feb 20 '18 at 8:38
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The U.S.S.R is a Federal Marxist-Lenonist One Party Socialist State while the Russian Federation (1922-1990. From 1990-1991, it was a Federal Semi-Presidential State... and then there was no U.S.S.R.). The present Russian Federation (legitament successor of the U.S.S.R., though several border countries were member states of the U.S.S.R.) is a Dominant-Party Federal Semi-Presidential Constitutional Republic. The United States has always been a Federal Presidential Constitutional Republic.

All those definitions are confusing but suffice to say that conflicts between the two today are not based on Communist vs. Capitalist ideologies and have not been for close to 30 years. Both countries are today classified as Mixed-Economies (that is there is some balancing between market based economies and planned economies that usually result in regulation that is too nuanced to nuke each other over).

The Cold War wasn't an ideological one beyond the Capitalism vs. Godless Communism playing well in propaganda for government support. The driving force was that the U.S.S.R. was absolutely terrified of the United States' new Nuclear bombs and were really good at intelligence operations, both offensive and defensive. They had a legit fear that the US would nuke them because to date, the U.S. is the only nation to use it's nuclear capabilities in an offensive (Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

Meanwhile, the United States wasn't helping by early hawks actively campaigning to nuke countries (China was the most serious proposal) back when the bombs' radiation effects weren't well known. At the same time, the United States refused to adopt a "Second Strike Policy" out of fear of the superior numbers in the Soviet Ground Army and actively feared the so called Bomber and Missile gaps (this goes to Soviet Intelligence defenses... They knew the US would watch the May-Day military parades and look at all the cool toys, so they took their nuclear bombers... and flew them over the parades in multiple waves, but rather than say this over media, the news reporters would call out names of non-existent bomber divisions, which made the US think Russia had the edge... they never did. The same was true with the Space Race, which the Russians failed to disclose any failures publicly and used rockets that were entirely devised to carry nuclear warheads. The Saturn V of the U.S. Apollo program was the only rocket purposely devised for Space Exploration in the entire space race.).

The 2016 meddling is not the first time in history where Russia has tried to influence the U.S. Elections and they probably tried to do this in every political election in the United States. At present there is little evidence that they affected any real political changes in the current election. It's also known that there are a host of United States led interference operations in other countries that still happen for any number of reason (from stopping popular communist regimes to we just didn't like the popular candidate).

If there is any reason for the current 2016 meddling it seems that the Russians are trying to sow disunion within the United States and not supporting or puppetting any one player. There are theories why Hillary was not supported by Russian propaganda over Sanders and later Trump was that he believed Hillary's State Department was behind protests against his 2011 election and suspicions of ballot issues. In addition, Putin was running to unseat his own party's then-incumbent President (In Russia, you cannot serve more than two consecutive terms as president... but you can serve as many terms as you want... so Two-Terms up, one term down- And a Third Term up is not illegal... in fact, Mendelev was hand picked by Putin to serve the gap term and was Prime Minister in the Legislature for that period.). Putin felt that Mendeleve was a terrible foreign policy leader and Hillary's State Department was dancing mental circles around Mendelev at all avenues. The fact that his latest election was called into question and loudly protested by comparison to other Russian elections steeled Putin against Hillary.

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  • Mendelev? Isn't it Medvedev? – Thern Feb 21 '18 at 9:31
  • @Nebr: Yeah. Could have sworn there was an "L" in his name. – hszmv Feb 21 '18 at 14:38
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"Russia's interference in US elections" is a myth created in the United States, for the US and for intensifying US aggression. In Russia, this myth stands between the myth "Russia is building the Death Star" and "Where the Ostankino TV tower has photon engines." "Evidence" of an American journalist on Russian television caused a storm of laughter. The Cold War was always there. Now the "flag of democracy" is held by the United States. Previously it was the UK. And the "export of democracy" to Russia started from the Roman Empire. Pinsk swamps remember the Roman legions, Teutonic knights, Polish lancers, French grenadiers, German tanks. The Cold War was always there. The US simply intercepted the baton. Earlier there was an excuse "communism against capitalism". But in modern Russia, ordinary wild capitalism. Evil Putin? Half the population of Russia hates Putin, his clones and the United States. Americans believe that the oligarch Trump is a Russian agent. Russians believe that oligarch Putin is an American agent. The Cold War is a convenient reason for justifying aggression. This is a convenient answer to any question. The economy in decline is an evil Putin. Somewhere the war is an evil Russian. This technology works everywhere. In Russia, a bad economy is the fault of the Americans. In Russia, inflation is the fault of the United States. Trump says Putin is guilty. Putin says Trump is to blame. Both "leaders" serve the world financial elite. And the peoples must fight. They must hate each other. They must tear each other to pieces, burn with napalm. Gladiator fights where the Colosseum is the whole planet.

The best thing about the philosophy of the Cold War is the American comedy The Canadian Bacon. The cause of the "cold war" is much deeper.

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