Thursday, May 03, 2007

Review: The New Cold War

Been spending a lot of time on airplanes lately, which gave me a chance to read The New Cold War pretty quickly, and it really helped pass the time in an interesting and very educational way.

Written by Globe and Mail reporter Mark MacKinnon, who is now covering the Middle East and was formerly the Globe’s Moscow correspondent, The New Cold War offers a fascinating look at the state of democracy, or the lack thereof, in Russia, parts of the former Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe.

The book starts in the former Yugoslavia with the revolution that overthrew Slobodan Milosevic, painting a common thread to other successful revolutions in places like the Ukraine and Georgia, and less successful ones in places like Belarus, as well as the deteriorating democratic situation in Russia itself.

It’s an engaging, well written book (as befits a fellow former Charlahack) and, as someone who considers himself at least decently abreast of global events, I was surprised at just how much I didn’t know what was going on in that part of the world.

Just how far Vladimir Putin has gone in rolling-back democracy in Russia is astounding, and troubling. And there really does seem to be a new cold war happening, as Russia uses its natural resources to try to force its former satellites into line, and out of the Western sphere of influence. The way that each successful revolution passes on its lessons to the next was very interesting to read, and the lessons drawn.

And it was unsurprising to learn that, despite the high-minded deals of democracy espoused by President Bush, when U.S. interests are at stake they’re still more than willing to back a despot.

A very enlightening read, well recommended.

A review copy was provided by the publisher to facilitate this review.

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