Cold War redux
May 22, 2018

The government of Sweden has updated a Cold War-era pamphlet guiding residents on what to do "if crisis or war comes" and "their everyday life [is] turned upside down." The revised pamphlet is being distributed to every household in Sweden for the first time in more than three decades.

The content is both practical (buy lots of tortillas) and strategic: "If Sweden is attacked by another country, we will never give up," it says. "All information to the effect that resistance is to cease is false."

"We all have a responsibility for our country's safety and preparedness, so it's important for everyone to also have knowledge on how we can contribute if something serious occurs," said Dan Eliasson, director of the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), which is sending the pamphlets. "Sweden is safer than many other countries but threats exist."

Sweden is not a member of NATO and has not been at war for two centuries. However, an MSB statement to CNN indicated the pamphlet distribution is prompted by the "security situation in our neighborhood," referring to Russian activity in the Baltic region. Bonnie Kristian

May 5, 2018

The Navy will re-establish its Second Fleet in the northern Atlantic Ocean to counter Russian power, the Pentagon announced Friday.

"Our National Defense Strategy makes clear that we're back in an era of great power competition as the security environment continues to grow more challenging and complex," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. "That's why, today, we're standing up Second Fleet to address these changes, particularly in the north Atlantic." The U.S. will also lead a new NATO Joint Force Command for the Atlantic, which will be hosted in Norfolk, Virginia.

The fleet was disbanded in 2011 for strategic and fiscal reasons. Russia has increased its naval activity in the Atlantic and nearby waters as well. Bonnie Kristian

December 2, 2017

Reliving history — and not in a fun way — Hawaii on Friday ran a test of a nuclear attack warning siren, sounding the Cold War-era alarm for the first time since the 1980s. The siren will now sound for one minute on the first business day of every month as part of a campaign to educate residents about what to do in the event of a real nuclear strike.

"We believe that it is imperative that we be prepared for every disaster," said Gov. David Ige (D), "and in today's world, that includes a nuclear attack." Listen to the test below. Bonnie Kristian

January 23, 2017

China's communist government is pointing to President Donald Trump's inauguration as an example of how democracy is a failed political system, Bloomberg Politics reports:

Democracy has reached its limits, and deterioration is the inevitable future of capitalism, according to the People's Daily, the flagship paper of China's Communist Party. It devoted an entire page on Sunday to critiquing Western democracies, quoting former Chairman Mao Zedong's 1949 poem asking people to "range far your eyes over long vistas" and saying the ultimate defeat of capitalism would enable Communism to emerge victorious.

The unusual series of commentaries in the People's Daily mirrors Soviet efforts to promote an alternative political and economic system during the Cold War. The rise of anti-establishment, protectionist politicians like Trump, amid populist winds on several continents, has sent political parties scurrying to shore up their support, helping China to portray itself as relatively steady. [Bloomberg Politics]

One article, for example, declared "Western-style democracy used to be a recognized power in history to drive social development. But now it has reached its limits. Democracy is already kidnapped by the capitals and has become the weapon for capitalists to chase profits."

"China's rising wealth has brought greater global presence, but that's not enough," explained political science professor Zhang Ming to Bloomberg Politics. "The Communist leaders want that someday China will matter globally for the nature of its political system and create its own universal values." Jeva Lange

December 19, 2014

Hours before the FBI announced that North Korea was to blame for threats made by hackers against Sony Pictures, a Kremlin spokesman confirmed that Kim Jong Un had been invited to Moscow.

"Yes, such an invitation was sent," Dmitry Peskov elaborated to Russian news agency TASS on Friday morning.

Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Kim for a 2015 event celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany, Reuters notes.

The trip would be Kim's first foreign visit since he took power in 2011. Sarah Eberspacher

December 12, 2014

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was uncharacteristically supportive of Vladimir Putin in an interview with Time published Friday, in which he blamed the U.S. for starting a "new Cold War."

"I learned that you can listen to the Americans, but you cannot trust them," he told Time. "When they get an idea to do something, they’ll turn the world onto a different axis to get it done."

Gorbachev said Putin's annexation of Crimea in March was in the interest of the majority there. It's a stark change of tone for Gorbachev, who criticized Putin for his authoritarianism as recently as 2013.

Read the full interview here. Julie Kliegman

October 30, 2014

On Tuesday and Wednesday, NATO jets scrambled to intercept at least 26 Russian military aircraft flying over Western Europe and the Black Sea. "These sizable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European airspace," NATO said, and since the fighter jets, bombers, and tankers typically don't file flight plans or use transponders, they put civilian aircraft at risk.

This week's Cold War level of Russian aerial activity was unusual, but appears part of a pattern — NATO says it had had to conduct more than 100 intercepts in 2014, or about three times the number as all of 2013. The U.S. has "noticed an increase in Russian flights close to NATO airspace since the start of the Ukraine crisis," said Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Vanessa Hillman. The Russians stayed in international airspace, NATO says, though they got close enough to NATO territory that eight nations had to send jets to intercept the aircraft. Peter Weber

October 20, 2014

Sweden's military said Sunday that it was investigating "foreign underwater activity" that was believed to be a Russian submarine that had entered the country's waters without permission. Swedish media reported that the military had intercepted a message from a Russian mini-sub that appeared to have run into trouble in the Scandinavian nation's territorial waters, but Russia said none of its vessels were facing any emergency situations. Read more at The Sydney Morning Herald. Harold Maass

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