The US and its allies, namely the UK, faced off with the Soviet Union for decades following the allied victory in World War II. History appears to be repeating itself.
The Cold War “is back with a vengeance, but with a difference,” secretary general of United Nations Antonio Guterres said Friday. “The mechanisms and the safeguards to manage the risks of escalation that existed in the past no longer seem to be present.” Guterres warned about the dangers of escalating the situation over Syria and urged countries to “act responsibly in these dangerous circumstances.” Within hours of his comments, the US, UK, and France bombed multiple government targets in Syria in response to a suspected chemical attack on the Syrian town of Douma.
This new manifestation of the Cold War has come on step by step.
Despite some tense disagreements between Donald Trump and the UK, the US and Britain’s “special relationship” was reinforced when the president backed UK prime minister Theresa May over the ex-spy poisoning scandal. The US, along with a number of other countries, expelled Russian diplomats after May said that Russia was to blame for the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on British soil.
Russia considers the insinuation a “provocation” and has continually denied involvement, calling the UK’s approach the use of propaganda. This week, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon confirmed the UK’s findings in an independent report and Britain’s government released even more information surrounding the poisoning.
Meanwhile, the response to the chemical attack on the Syrian town of Douma has formed a familiar Cold War lineup pitting the US and its allies against Russia. Trump had insisted on launching airstrikes on Syria, asking allies like the UK to join forces, after claiming the US and France had proof that the regime led by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad had unleashed a chemical attack, which killed at least 75 people. Russia claimed the attack was staged by foreign agents and continually provided support for the Syrian government.
By Wednesday (April 11) Trump and Russia were engaged in an intense exchange on Twitter, with both sides threatening to launch and blow up missiles. In the background, the UK prime minister joined forces with the US over the airstrikes, without giving parliament a vote. This is significant because in 2015, then-prime minister David Cameron allowed all members of parliament to vote on whether it should join allies in bombing parts of Syria.
At 9pm ET yesterday (April 13), Trump confirmed that the US, along with Britain and France, have “marshaled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality.” In response, Russia’s ambassador to the US said the attack on its ally “will not be left without consequences.”