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Are We Ready For More Cold War?

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posted on Jul, 9 2006 @ 12:44 AM
Recent events have caused many of us to dust off our memories of the Cold War. Back in the day, we lived in fear of long-range bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Diplomats from East and West faced off against each other on the floor of the United Nations on a regular basis. Most of the geographic hotspots that could’ve sparked a war were found in smaller countries that were our allies, or in close relationships with our adversaries.

As the Soviet Union fell in 1989, our leaders declared victory. Politicians on both sides of the aisle requested a down-sizing of the military, and debates raged over how to spend “the peace dividend.” Our nuclear nightmares vanished almost overnight as we settled in for what looked like many decades of relative peace. Journalists and historians look back on those heady days now, and wonder if we didn’t let our guard down.

As an author, historian, and political scientist, I have to say that we did become complacent. We did NOT take the threat of Middle Eastern terrorism seriously when it emerged in 1997, as demonstrated by the first attack on the World Trade Center. In our minds, the ‘threat’ seemed minor when compared to the huge Communist war machine that had been stared down and embarrassed in to defeat by dialogue and economics. We really did think we had put this beast to bed, once and for all.

July 4 of 2006, on the occasion of our national Independence Day, our cozy myopic world view was “corrected” when a series of missile test-flights originating from North Korea gave us a badly needed wakeup call. These tests included the failed launch of a prototype ICBM. Western media sources are loath to admit it, and our leaders don’t want to say the words that’ll make it “real.” It should be clear to anyone with a newspaper that the Cold War is back.

July 6 of 2006 saw the Washington Post report that Taiwan will soon test-fire their own version of a cruise missile. This weapon has the range and accuracy to strike targets up to 350 miles inside of mainland China. Given that North Korea is a known client state under Chinese influence, it seems clear that a new round of proxy fighting is under way.

This may be a new Cold War, or it may be the continuation of what started after 1945. Either way, we are now faced with a new period of extreme volatility that pits old rivals against each other. The events of the past may prove invaluable as we struggle to come up with new solutions for old problems. Global reach is no longer the privilege of a superpower. Nuclear power and atomic weapons are no longer the perks of higher civilization. Today’s proxy threats can do to us as we would do to them.

Cold war in the 21st Century will still be about economic and ideological supremacy. The complications will be political. The solutions will be political. We did this once before, and we outlasted the movements and politicians who threatened us. I don’t ask for the period of 1945-1989 to be remembered with nostalgia. We should never wish for the return of those particular “good old days.” I do ask that we remember and use what we learned from those dark times.

Today’s confrontational politics will turn on the threats and capabilities of modern missile technology. Warheads will once against be used to back up ideology. Embargoes and sanctions of all sorts will be the preferred chips for today’s high-stakes poker game. In the end, national preservation may still come down to economic endurance. If that’s true, we are poised for victory as long as we remain patient. If not, we should still be well positioned, thanks to our accumulated wisdom.

posted on Jul, 9 2006 @ 01:46 AM
War Without End, Amen, Amen

Originally posted by Justin Oldham
This may be a new Cold War, or it may be the continuation of what started after 1945. Either way, we are now faced with a new period of extreme volatility that pits old rivals against each other.

First off, please accept my compliments on an excellent article. It is refreshing to see such talent at work, and I hope to see much more of this sort of well-informed analysis on PTS.


As for the Cold War, I'm of the notion that it never really ended, just changed in form. The major powers are still much the same -- but with some new twists -- and the battlefields are more subtle, with war being waged more on political and economic terms than anything else for now.

Even though the Soviet Union "collapsed", Russia remains a major player on the world stage, with plenty of nukes and fingers in the pies of every continent and a thriving arms export industry -- as well as many levers of power remaining from her "glory days".

China is still a "rival" if not a full-blown enemy, but to become too cozy with Beijing is not without its own perils.

The Middle East is still a mess, Africa is still a free-for-all and Latin America is starting to come under the sway of a resurgent Marxist axis -- with rumblings of revolution in Mexico.

Plus lots more, such as the issue with the Koreas (and the desire to keep them from uniting), a nuclear-armed Japan and the rise of a new European superstate that may well become tempted to return the continent to a semblance of its former imperial splendor.

And, of course, Islamic terrorists and the inevitable spread of nuclear weapons around the globe.

World Piece

Quite a lot of trouble to borrow no matter which way you slice it, and with the power of international constituencies to shape public opinion via the media, and mounting domestic hostility toward overseas adventurism, the picture becomes far more complex.

In my opinion, for anyone to suggest that there is "stability" in the world would be a cruel jest. The world is very much in flux and can change in disastrous ways literally overnight.

But despite all this, I think we've seen worse -- although WMDs and emerging technologies (such as nanoweapons) change everything.

I've proven I'm no prophet, but I predict that the 21st century will see a lot more people become victims of genocide than the 20th century did.

And that's a hell of a record to beat.

Running Backwards Into The Future

So are we ready for more Cold War?

No, not really.

But then, looking back, we've never really been ready for anything that's happened to us. It's always been hard, and life has always been full of surprises.

We just adapt or perish, and so far, so good.

[edit on 7/9/2006 by Majic]

posted on Jul, 9 2006 @ 02:31 AM
These days, the powerful weapons countries are acquiring, like China and NK. And the even more powerful weapons that are being created on secret bases, such as the many America have, are like guns in 6 year old hands. Sure they can shoot them, and hold them, and carry them, but are they responsible enough to have them?

Countries depend on every other country. Many talk about a war starting soon, over things such as Iran, that will not be so. America invests and imports, China invests and exports, all of Asia for that matter does that. Europe invests and imports. The economies are just too intertwined. If there was a war between America and China, the business people would take their money out of China due to it not being stable, the American government would instate tariffs on Chinese things, and buy more from other Asian countries.

What is troubling, is natural resources. Europe's dependence on Russia for those are unsettling to them. The Americans dependence on Middle Easten resources are unsettling for them. As well as the Chinese. China and America are both trying to have their stakes in countries (such as Somalia and Sudan). I truly think America will try and create a second China in this area. China cannot have this. Their whole economy depends on foreign investments.

Not to mention China and Russia's relationship. It isn't very strong, as many would be inclined to believe. They both don't trust each other, but trust the West (mainly America) even less.

There are deeper things happening around the world. And each country is trying to undermine the other through economics. And military defense is on the rise for each country. Who knows what the future will hold.

posted on Jul, 9 2006 @ 03:29 AM
Both of you guys make good points. I really would like to think that we'd have an inside edge because we've done this dance once before. That's what I'd like to think. As a historian, I think we'll see academic splitting hairs just to make the whole 'process' of this conflict easier to digest.

The 21st Century phase of this conflict could very well result in many more casualties than what we saw coming out of World War Two. Even so, I think we're going to see a slow escalation over the next 10 years. In my novel, I pegged the flashpoint year at roughly 2014 for internal politics. I am still struggling to pin down a near-term year for the international stuff.

As it stands right now, the proxies that have been activated are clearly Iran, North Korea, Japan and Taiwan. As a fan of Machievellian politics, I can see that China and Russia have a lot of really good cards to play. Then again, so do we. I'm not just staying that because I live in the U.S. I say that as a practical matter of politics. As much as Ameirca may be disliked at the moment, we are still a power to be reckoned with.


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