Still, there is certainly a scent of something familiar in the air these days, and it isn’t just high-street fashion or the revival of 80s-style synth and indie music.
It is not that there is another American president who is a former showbiz celebrity or that Britain once again has a female Prime Minister.Frank Augstein/APBritain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Ministers' Questions session, in parliament in London, Sept. 6, 2017.
Nor is it the apparent fascination with the decade on screens big and small. Hit shows like "The Americans" and "Stranger Things" and movies like "Atomic Blonde" celebrate the lifestyle, the culture and sometimes the politics of the era.
No, it's none of these things. Instead, it is the uneasy feeling that an old acquaintance long since departed is back from the dead to haunt us and it’s on the front page of all the papers and on the lips of Britons and Russians alike: The Cold War.The Daily MirrorThe Daily Mirror's front page in the wake of United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May expelling 23 Russian diplomats in response to a Russian spy and his daughter being poisoned on British soil.
A Russian defector, his daughter and a British cop are all seriously ill and hospitalized after being poisoned. The UK, France, Germany and the United States say it was a military-grade nerve agent, the first attack of its kind in Europe since the end of World War II.Adrian Denis/AFP/Getty ImagesBritish Military personnel wearing protective coveralls work to remove a vehicle connected to the March 4 nerve agent attack in Salisbury, from a residential street in Gillingham, southeast England on March 14, 2018.
They have all said they share London's assessment that the only plausible explanation is that Russia was responsible.
Once again the West is aligned against the East. Accusations, insults and threats are thick in the air.
Sanctions and secret plans are being discussed and “diplomats” -- aka “intelligence officers” or spies -- are being expelled. Twenty-three Russian diplomats were booted out of the UK; the Russians, of course, had to respond and 23 UK diplomats are packing their bags and bidding farewell to the biting Russian winter.Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/Kremlin via ReutersRussian President Vladimir Putin meets with British Prime Minister Theresa May as part of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, Sept. 4, 2016.
The Russian embassy to the UK has, despite its many critics, a certain creative flair rarely found in diplomatic circles.
The temperature of ???? ???? relations drops to ?2??3??, but we are not afraid of cold weather. pic.twitter.com/mand9YyoaE— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) March 14, 2018
We are, indeed, living in remarkable times.
However, we are emphatically not witnessing a rerun of the Cold War.UIG via Getty Images, FILEPresident Ronald Reagan and Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev are pictured at the historic 1986 Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Reykjavik, Iceland.
President Trump is not Ronald Reagan, especially when it comes to being tough on Russia. Theresa May is certainly no Maggie Thatcher -- she is the beleaguered leader of a party that only just clings on to power.AP, FILEMargaret Thatcher is pictured in a 1969 file photo.
And Vladimir Putin is no Mikhail Gorbachev, either -- he is far more popular and powerful. Incidentally, the Russian presidential elections are scheduled for tomorrow, and Putin faces virtually no opposition and is all but certain to win.Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images, FILEPresident Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017.
We live in a unipolar world in which Russian power is greatly inferior to that of the United States. Broadly speaking there is no longer a great ideological divide and our similarities are far more striking than our differences, though they do exist.
East and West embrace capitalistic systems of production and wealth creation. Our cultural reference points are strikingly similar.
Western movies play in Moscow theatres and homes. We eat similar food, play similar music, drive similar cars, and we go on the same holidays and have the same aspirations in life.
I first visited Moscow as a student in the 1980s. Wandering through the giant mall, Gum, the poverty of the Soviet system was apparent: the lack of basic goods we took for granted in the West and the endless lines for what little was available in government shops.
It was apparent that a dark and depressing pall had fallen across a dying system.
Today, Gum is a glitzy temple to Mammon. No doubt inaccessible to a vast majority of the country in the same way the goods in Harrods in London are out of range to most Britons, but it is a symbol of an acquisitive lifestyle and shared aspirations.
That said, we should be concerned about the deterioration in relations between East and West. We do not know where this will end and I cannot remember relations being worse since the end of the Cold War but we are not witnessing a rerun. Not yet.