Ukraine -- This is the epicenter of the latest cold war eruption. A gang of thugs backed by Russia is contending with another gang of thugs backed by the US and the EU for control of this bankrupt, historically problematic former Soviet republic. As the gateway to the oil rich steppes of Central Asia, Ukraine is a big prize in the battle for control of energy production and distribution -- and neither side shows any sign of backing down. Venezuela -- After the death of strongman Hugo Chavez, a longstanding feud between the leftist government of this resource-rich but politically poor South American nation and Uncle Sam is boiling over into violence. With US aid pouring into the coffers of the anti-Chavista opposition, and the government cracking down ever harder, a peaceful resolution of the crisis seems unlikely. Syria -- So you thought the threat of US military intervention passed when the American public rebelled at the prospect of President Obama ordering US warplanes into the fight? Well, you were wrong: in addition to stepped up aid to the rebel forces, the Obama administration is building runways in Jordan ostensibly for "reconnaissance" purposes -- although officials haven't ruled out air strikes against al-Qaeda-affiliated forces as well as Syrian military installations. And of course the "humanitarian" interventionists in the media -- and US officialdom -- are still lamenting Washington's inaction.