Going West

Cold War geopolitical terminology is obsolete. We need new terms to reflect a changed world

Communism Counterpoints Eastern Europe History Politics Russia The West

Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech in 1946 helped people understand the nature of the Cold War that had just begun. Today, we need a new term to clarify the precarious lot of the states that became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Empire, and which are threatened by a reassertive Russia. I propose “The Near West.”

“Near Western” states such as Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova and Georgia – close to the West politically and culturally – are indeed the outer rim of democratic Europe.

All the old names are redolent of vanished realities: “Eastern Europe” suggests a world forever behind the Iron Curtain; even “the Caucasus” and “the Baltic” evoke difference and distance. If we recognise “the Near West” as our own frontier, we will be better prepared for the challenges we surely face.