The Cold War and the So-Called "Second Cold War": Comparisons and Contrasts

Elder Scholar

Today’s international problems are far more complex – and in many ways more dangerous – than those of the first Cold War. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, world events have created dangerous and unpredictable situations in international relations: a resurgent Russia, the emergence of China as a superpower, the rise of global revolutionary Islam, the convolutions and endless civil wars in the Middle East and Africa, the spectre of sectarian terrorism and a global refugee crisis create problems that defy easy solution.

The election of the unpredictable Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin’s expansionist and disruptive foreign policy, the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and the inevitable conflict between Iran and Israel – among many other intractable rivalries – add complexity to the renewed US-Russia rivalry.

Examine and discuss the origins and history of the Cold War (1945-1991) and compare it to today’s rivalry which has been dubbed the “Second” or “New Cold War.”

ERIC NELLIS is a UBC associate professor emeritus of history.  He has taught American history for over 30 years and is the author of books on Colonial New England and the American Revolution. His most recent book is Shaping the New World: African Slavery in the Americas. 1500-1888.

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