History News Network: Tom Engelhardt: Did Both the US and USSR Lose the Cold War?
Of the two superpowers that faced each other down in an almost half-century-long Cold War, one -- the United States -- emerged victorious, alone in the world, economically powerful, militarily dominant; the other, never the stronger of the two, limped off, its empire shattered and scattered, its people impoverished and desperate, its military a shell of its former self. This is a story we all know, and more or less accept. Winner/loser, victor/vanquished. It makes sense. That's the way we expect matches, competitions, struggles, wars to end.
But what if, as I've suggested recently, the Cold War turned out to be a loser/loser contest? That may seem counterintuitive. In [America] it would have been considered laughable not so long ago, except to a few scholars of imperial decline like Immanuel Wallerstein, and yet it may be an increasingly plausible thought.
...By the 1980s, the USSR was an overstretched empire -- economically worse than shaky, its military overblown, its money going down an imperial rat hole -- and then, of course, there was Afghanistan. (Anything already sound a little familiar here?) Afghanistan was Russia's Vietnam, exactly as several American administrations wanted it to be -- the difference being that Vietnam was a resounding regional defeat for us; while Afghanistan was a politically and economically empire-shattering defeat for the Soviet Union...
...If Afghanistan was the USSR's Vietnam (only worse in its effects), Ir-q may prove the American Afghanistan...( Read more...Collapse )