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Why Georgia is not start of 'Cold War II'

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Russian military authority remains split between a president elected in May with no opposition, and Prime Minister Putin, who once called the breakup of the Soviet Union "the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century."

Such remarks may feed new definitions of a "cold war," as does Putin's putative intent to exert power and influence in weaker states around Russia – particularly any Eurasian oil corridors through Georgia that would deny lucrative tariffs for Moscow.

1950s vs. 2008: Radio vs. iPod

Yet world dynamics in the cold war versus those in 2008 are as different as the transistor radio and the iPod. The interlinked economies of Russia and Europe, vastly freer global media access, the rise of China, greater travel, new generations, disparate wealth, and changed attitudes and expectations – make a different world than during the rigid standoff between the liberal West and communist Soviets. Russia is no longer a self-contained empire animated by the discipline of socialist morality – far from it, and the West is no longer focused on a single opponent. Issues without borders, such as energy, the environment, terror, trade, banking, and mafias – emerged more strongly after the Berlin Wall went down. The West needs Russia's help to constrain Iran.

The term cold war itself may actually block new thinking, argues Paul Goble, a former State Department and CIA analyst and expert on Soviet nationalities.

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