Has a new Cold War, this one pitting the United States against the People’s Republic of China, commenced? Rhetoric coming out of Washington, amplified by hawkish media commentary, appears to take a Second Cold War as a given, something perhaps even to be welcomed.
If Cold War II looms, how will it compare with its predecessor? Does the term “Cold War” aptly describe the contest now being joined? Or might the revival of the term itself represent a potentially fatal misstep?
The first Cold War, dating from 1947, centered on geopolitical competition with an overlay of ideology. The so-called free world, led by the United States, stood in opposition to the Soviet-led Communist bloc. Whatever the passing allure of Marxism-Leninism, that competition was never a contest between equals. Although the outcome may not have been foreordained, the West enjoyed huge political, economic and technological advantages that only increased as Communist regimes failed to make good on the promises of socialism.
Notably, however, even as the Cold War subsided in the late 1980s, the machinery that the United States had created to wage it kept on humming. As expressed by an imperial presidency, the size of the Pentagon budget, unaccountable intelligence agencies, a corruption-inducing military-industrial complex, a sprawling network of bases, unsavory allies and a penchant for armed intervention abroad, Cold War routines persisted. The Red Threat may have vanished along with the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, but the apparatus devised to counter that threat endured.
Read the full article in the Los Angeles Times.