The old Cold War and the coming one

The United States is gearing up for a new Cold War with China.  But the new Cold War will be difference from the one with the Soviet Union.  In some ways, the roles are reversed.

At the outbreak of the first Cold War in the late 1940s, the United States was the world’s leading industrial power and a champion of the status quo.

The Soviet Union tried to catch up with the USA, but never succeeded. It was seen as threat, first, because of its nuclear arsenal. It was, and still is, the only nation with the capability of destroying the United States. Its ability to retaliate with nuclear weapons made it virtually invulnerable to attack.

It also was a threat because it used its invulnerable position to subsidize, sponsor and inspire insurgents and terrorists all over the world, which is not to say the USA did not itself engage in covert action and dirty tricks.

The Cold War ended because the Soviet Union’s failed economic system could not sustain its ambitions for world power.

Now compare that with the situation of the USA and China today. China is expected to surpass the United States as an industrial power within a few years.  By some measure, it already has.

China is a defender of the status quo, except for certain border area claims.  Unlike the old Soviet Union, it doesn’t have a national goal of making the world over in its image.

It doesn’t project its military power far beyond its borders. Its main tool for power is to grant or deny access to its huge market to nations, companies and individuals based on whether they pay lip service to or go against Chinese perceived national security interests.

One of the main sources of U.S. power is the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which gives it the same invulnerability to attack as the old Soviet Union had and the Russian Federation still has.

The other source is financial power, a legacy of the late 1940s when the USA was the world’s main industrial power. The fact that the U.S. dollar and U.S. Treasury bonds are still the basis of the world’s financial system gives the U.S. government leverage it does not hesitate to use.

It uses its position to finance covert wars, proxy wars and acts of war short of full-scale invasion. It is a source of instability, not stability. The Chinese, except in their own borderlands, and their Russia allies are champions of world order and the status quo.

In the old Cold War, the Soviet Union was pushing an ideology.  In the new Cold War, the U.S. is trying to impose “woke-ness” and neoliberalism on the world.  In the old Cold War, time was on the side of the USA.  In the new Cold War, time is on the side of China.

Of course there are a lot of things wrong with the world as it is.  Accepting the status quo means accepting tyranny, poverty and war.  And the Chinese system is not one that I would wish to live under.

Maybe I push the role reversal analogy too far.  But U.S. interventions do not make the world better, and are not really intended to.  The present-day USA is a disrupter.  China, unlike in the Mao era, is not a disruptor.  And unlike in the first Cold War, time is not on the side of the USA.

Patrick Lawrence, a reporter for Consortium News, wrote a good three-part series on the new Cold War.  He quoted President Biden as saying that China is the “most serious competitor” of the United States, and then pointed out Biden’s failure to plan to make the U.S. more competitive.   

Instead U.S. policy is to undermine China.  Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in an interview with CNBC that the U.S. should work with European allies to “slow down China’s rate of innovation” and specifically to “deny China the most advanced technology so they don’t catch up in critical areas like semiconductors.”

But Biden administration has no serious plan to compete with China.  Instead its plan evidently is to try to undermine China’s economy and provoke it into an arms race through by building up a naval presence in the western Pacific and Indian Ocean and building up an anti-Chinese military and intelligence alliance.

Biden’s Build Back Better budget plan is pitiful compared to the amounts of money China budgets for infrastructure and industrial research, and it’s uncertain how much that Republicans and right-wing Democrats in Congress will allow him of even this.

Decline is not inevitable.  We Americans could turn things around if we forced our government to stop trying to maintain a global military supremacy and instead devote these resources to building up our own nation’s prosperity and strength.


Here We Go Again: the Anglosphere announces Cold War II by Patrick Lawrence for The Scrum.

Our China ‘Diplomacy’: Incompetents in command by Patrick Lawrence for The Scrum.

Economic War Crimes: Kneecapping China seems the best Biden can do by Marshall Auerback and Patrick Lawrence for The Scrum. An excellent series.  The third article is the best of the three.

Tags: ,

One Response to “The old Cold War and the coming one”

  1. mosckerr Says:

    None Sense. For China to make war with the US would require an alliance between China Russia and Japan… fat chance.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: