Did someone declare war on someone else’s country last night while I was asleep? No. Sadly, this fact does not appear to have penetrated the newsrooms inhabited by those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet: the red-tops, in particular, are today full of war talk, such is the desperation to get ahead in the Ukraine game. And much of that talk features the phrase “Cold War”.
Now colour me pedantic as well as sceptical, but the Cold War featured such non-trivial components as the (then) USSR and USA actually pointing significant numbers of nuclear-armed munitions at targets on their opponents’ territory. What we used to call Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD by acronym, mad by definition) has not yet occurred on Europe’s eastern fringe.
Nor has the EU been threatened, not that you would know it by reading the front page of today’s Super Soaraway Currant Bun. “Come ‘N Have A Go If EU Think You’re Hard Enough” (geddit?!?) is the headline. Readers are told “West in new Cold War”, except the west ain’t involved (yet). “Putin squares up over Crimea” it proclaims, but he hasn’t squared up to anyone thus far.
The language is little better at the Daily Mail, where the front page has the horrifying prospect of Amanda Bloody Platell discussing older women and no-strings sex. Nothing like putting the readers off their breakfasts. Here, it’s “Europe’s peace at risk in ‘New Cold War’”. So it’s still the tired old phrase, but it’s OK because the Dacre doggies put quote marks round it.
Can’t anyone bring a little sanity to the subject? The Maily Telegraph does its best, which nowadays is not all that good, but better than nothing. “Europe’s peace at risk over Ukraine” we are told. And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, it’s unlikely to spill over into the EU, which is the Tel’s intended target, and two, any impact is only going to be on Europe’s fringes. And see below.
But for sheer jaw-dropping idiocy, it has to be the Mirror, which to its shame has not only joined the Cold War meme, but has also failed to do its energy supply homework. “Putin Threat To UK Gas” screams the headline. Er, hello Mirror people? We get our natural gas supply either from what’s left in the North Sea, or Qatar. Never mind, though, they’ve got a Susanna Reid photo to make up for the howler.
Yes, the situation in Ukraine needs sorting out. Yes, it could deteriorate. But, for the information of the unfeasibly bellicose, any protracted conflict could hurt the Russian economy badly: in early trading today, the Moscow stock exchange dropped more than 10%. Think how nasty that could get if the shooting starts. The USSR could ignore such trappings of the decadent West. Putin cannot.
So most of today’s frighteners are pretty much irrelevant. No change there, then.