Tuesday, July 26, 2022

New cold war

I guess whether Russia continues to participate in the International Space Station program is mostly a symbolic issue. The station itself is in the latter half of its life span (I think it is set to be retired at the end of this decade).  But the very existence of the station, as a joint cooperative project between "East and West" at least as conceived during the cold war, when "East" meant Eastern Europe, and not Asia, was a way to say that the cold war was over. Also by making Russia an equal partner in the venture, it was a way to undermine the idea that Russia lost the cold war or rub its steep economic decline in the 1990s in its face.

So now that's over. We don't have a new iron curtain yet, but curtains are falling on virtually every cooperative venture that Russia and the USA were involved in since the (first) cold war ended. And these days, the United States is quite happy to rub Russia's economic woes in its face, because that just means the US-EU sanctions are working.

Will any of this matter beyond symbolism? Aren't all the human-crewed space programs mostly symbolism?