More than a week ago Russia sent the nuclear powered cruiser, Peter the Great, to the Caribbean for joint maneuvers with Venezuela's navy. Russia denied any connection between the sudden interest in Venezuelan naval prowess and the arrival of US naval ships delivering aid to Georgia via the Black Sea. Venezuela denied reports of it's "War Canoes" being capsized by the wake of Peter the Great during the operation.
Actually, for his part, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and that oddly misshapen growth atop his shoulders defended the maneuvers with the grace and eloquence we've long come to expect,
"Go ahead and squeal Yankees!"
Today Russia affirmed arms deals with both Venezuela and Iran and the headlines are aflame with dire messages and colorful language like "ratchet up" and "missile crisis" and of course, "Cold War."
The Cold War. One imagines a bipolar globe with two superpowers eyeballing each other with their collective allies at their back. A globe neatly divided between the ideology and politics of one side and the same of another. That doesn't sound at all like the current global situation. Quite the contrary, never in my lifetime have the ideologies and economies been so globally non-polar. While the US remains a unipolar power militarily, geo-economic connectivity and the economic rise of the likes of Brazil, India and China have erased the black and white form of global primacy that the Cold War entailed. Not at all the Cold War visage of East vs West.
Indeed, the current situation looks more like the Core vs a Kingpin Gap state and whatever Gap states it can soak up. Russia's powerplay into Georgia was designed to cow it's previous satellite states into falling into it's sphere of influence (and to give the finger to the US and other nations for recognizing Kosovo's independence.) The actual response was immediate blowback. Poland quickly signed on to host elements of the US missile defense system and both Georgia and Ukraine took on even more fervent calls for NATO membership. Russia's kinetic bumbling in Ossetia and Georgia pushed it's former Soviet satellites away from it and further into western ideology.
Russia's friendly relations with both Iran and Venezuela are hardly new. But this reinvigorated and theatric assertion of alliance with the two anti-western regimes, supported nearly entirely by hydrocarbon fueled economies, does not even whisper a coming Cold War as far as I'm concerned. Quite the contrary, it's as much a measure of desperation as Russia, failing to reassert it's primacy in it's own neighborhood, is turning to sycophantic stragglers in an effort to revive it's global presence. A Sad War, perhaps, but not a Cold War.