Relations between Russia and the West have deteriorated to such a degree that it is commonplace to speak of a 'new Cold War.' What factors have produced this dangerous set of affairs? This talk reviews conventional Western explanations, and standard critiques of these explanations. In some explanations, analysts point to the centrality of emotion in accounting for the current standoff. In reviewing recent history, this talk argues against thin emotion-based explanations in favor of thicker forms of explanation that recognize but do not overly privilege emotion.
Dr. Gerard Toal (Gearóid Ó Tuathail) is a Professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. He has a Ph. D. in Political Geography from Syracuse University and is the author or co-author of over 75 journal articles and 23 book chapters on territorial conflicts, US foreign policy, de facto states, popular culture, media and critical geopolitics. A recipient of multiple research grants from the US National Science Foundation, his latest book is Near Abroad: Putin, the West and the Contest for Ukraine and the Caucasus (Oxford University Press, 2017). The book is a study of two Russian invasions of neighboring states, Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014, and the circumstances surrounding these events, including US involvement in both states.