September 7, 2018 | Information Office

NEU holds Forum on the Cold War and current events

New Era University hosted a global current affairs forum, titled “Is the Cold War over?” Held on September 6, 2018 at the University Hall, the forum featured a presentation by a distinguished guest from the Moscow Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), Dr. Victor Sumsky, and had among its audience delegates from the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations (PCFR), the De La Salle University, UP-Asian Center, the Philippine Navy, and the NEU community. The forum was conceived by the NEU-Center for International Linkages as part of the University’s efforts to bolster international exposure and to foster amicable relations with foreign HIEs (Higher Institutes for Learning). Earlier this year, NEU had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with MGIMO in an event held in Moscow and was witnessed by DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.

Cold War never ended, here to stay
Dr. Victor Sumsky, who is considered as the leading Russian expert on ASEAN related studies, opened his presentation by remarking that even though he does not disagree with the title of the forum, he chose to give his presentation the title “The Colder War” because he shares the majority view in Russia that the Cold War never ended in the first place. Using brief and concise PowerPoint slides, Dr. Sumsky elucidated on the origins and dimensions of the Cold War from the Russian point of view. He opined that while many Western-oriented historians might say that the Cold War began after WW2 and that it ended in 1991 with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet bloc, the majority view of Russian historians is that the Cold War began during the ending phases of WW2, as the Soviet armies approach Berlin, Germany. He further elaborated that the failure of the US to capitalize on its seeming victory over the Soviet Union in 1991 assured that a state of a “colder” war will continue to exist as the US steadily loses its grip on global energy reserves and on what Dr. Sumsky called “the American game of globalization”. Using examples from recent history, Dr. Sumsky illustrated how the US tries to maintain its post-Cold War hegemony by: 1. Militarization of global affairs, 2. Using economic sanctions as a major foreign policy tool, and 3. Demonizing adversaries –particularly Russia. He also pointed out that the predominant opinion among Russians is that the “Colder War” between the US and Russia will last forever and that what Russians need the most is to have a strategic patience as the Colder War has become a “self-perpetuating process with a logic of its own”. On the other hand, Dr. Sumsky stated that the Colder War escalating to the point where it would “burn the world to ashes” is no longer a highly likely scenario after March 1, 2018. Dr. Sumsky expounded the significance of the date because it was the day Russian President Vladimir Putin declared through his state of the nation address that Russia was about to deploy ultra-modern, high precision nuclear weapons, thereby making Russia the default “winner” of the arms-race against the US. In conclusion, Dr. Sumsky challenged the audience that given the steady decline of US prestige and power and the apparent victory of Russia in the arms race, people should be bold enough to discuss the implications of the current trends in world affairs to the future geopolitical landscape and how a nation can flourish under the developing new global order.

Global order likely to return to a stalemate
To offer a repartee to Dr. Sumsky’s presentation, Dr. Allan Ortiz of PCFR opined that as much as he agrees with many of Dr. Sumsky’s talking points, he does not believe that the current Colder War will not result in a new hegemonic order under Russian dominance. Instead, according to Dr. Ortiz, the world will more likely revert to the old stalemate that existed between the US and Russia during the 50s and 60s. He also pointed out that Dr. Sumsky’s presentation failed to factor in the impact of China’s rise and its disruptive effect on the current global order. He asked the timely question of whether the world is indeed entering the opening phase of the so-called Pax Sinica – a period of relative global stability under the auspices of Chinese hegemony. He further posited that the real pressing issue that should be contemplated upon by the public, especially the youth, is the looming phenomena of the so-called 4th Industrial Revolution. According to Dr. Ortiz, the future global interplay will not revolve wholly on geopolitics and military contentions but also on the question of which nation-state will dominate the emerging fields of big-data analysis, AI, nanotech, drone technology, social media, and the internet of things. To sum up his remarks, Dr. Ortiz challenged the young members of the audience and the New Era University to apply themselves to the highest ideals of nationalism while gaining knowledge that will give the country the optimum position to reap the benefits of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Multilateralism an important strategy
On the other hand, Dr. Rommel Banlaoi, an expert from the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR), gave a short response to Dr. Sumsky and Dr. Ortiz by pointing out that the Cold War “as we know it” is indeed over and that the world is entering a new era of international relations. He spoke positively of the current government’s policy of being “friendly to everyone and an enemy to no one”. Dr. Banlaoi stressed that if indeed the world is experiencing a Colder War, then the best course of national action would be to keep engaging in multilateral engagements and forgoing bipolar and divisive partisanship among nations.

Other wars to be fought and won
During the questions and open discussion part of the forum, other dimensions of the current global affairs were brought up by the participating audience. Dr. Sumsky, with additional comments from the other experts from the audience, gave brief but insightful comments regarding questions concerning the Russian point of view on the sensitive issue of the conflicting claims in the South China Sea, the looming “Food and Water War”, and the necessary skills and values that must be possessed by the youth if they are to survive and flourish in the changing world order.
To cap the momentous event, University President Nilo L. Rosas gave the closing remarks, thanking Dr. Sumsky and all the guests for participating in this timely discussion. As an aside to Dr. Ortiz’s previous statement that the nation must possess three vital skills in order to take advantage of the 4th Industrial Revolution: Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Communication Skills, Dr. Rosas pointed out that in New Era University, students are taught one more important value: the love and service to our fellow man. Dr. Rosas stated that this important element, imparted and cultivated by the Church Administration, makes NEU a truly unique learning institution –one that creates students that are not only intellectually, but also emotionally and spiritually prepared to face the challenges of an ever-shifting world order.

Neil Bryan M. Tarray
NEU-ASEAN Studies Center