The Second Cold War

Sequels Are Often Far Worse Than the Originals

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It began in August 1914, a war in Europe that was supposed to be over by Christmas of that year. But it exploded out of control, becoming the “Great War” or “The World War” or even “The War to End All Wars.” And when it finally ended on 11/11 in 1918, something like ten million troops were dead.

We know it as World War I or the First World War because we know what came after it: yet another calamitous world war, a sequel, one that was far worse than the original. And after that war finally ended in 1945, something like 75-80 million people were dead around the world, including 25 million in the Soviet Union, six million Jews in the Holocaust, and 250,000 at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Hiroshima, 1945, after a “small” atomic bomb. Nuclear attacks in a “new” Cold War will be inconceivably worse

Of course, World War II also wasn’t the end of the killing. The so-called Iron Curtain descended in Europe, leading to the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union that almost ended with Armageddon in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. That Cold War came to an end in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The U.S. celebrated its apparent victory, even calling briefly for “peace dividends” in the 1990s. It was not to be.

Thirty years after the (First) Cold War, we now hear of a “new Cold War.” We hear again that China and Russia are America’s enemies, a new “Axis of Evil,” notes Caitlin Johnstone. America is already engaged in a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine. Now America’s leaders are posturing over Taiwan and threatening war with China if the Chinese military makes aggressive moves against that country. (Of course, the Chinese consider Taiwan to be China, a “One China” policy the U.S. used to support.)

It does seem as if “my” Cold War, when I served in the U.S. military, may be remembered to history as the First Cold War, and that America has already begun a Second Cold War. And, just as World War II was far worse than World War I in casualties and destruction, Cold War II could conceivably be a LOT worse than Cold War I if we choose to continue to wage it.

Sequels, as a general rule, are usually worse, sometimes far worse, than the originals. We had better stop this nonsense of a new Cold War before we relearn this in the hardest way possible.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views. He can be reached at Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

78 thoughts on “The Second Cold War”

  1. If this isn’t a hot war, it’s as close as it gets. We’re on the brink of nuclear war, people should stop talking about a cold war and start talking about the U.S. proxy war against Russia, the planned U.S. war against China, and what we can do to end this evil empire.

    1. I believe that the first thing we should do is to try to convince as many of our fellow Americans as we can that this is an evil empire that we live under. So many still buy into the idea of American exceptionalism. Most of my friends and family think that I’m a conspiracy theorist. They don’t want to hear what I think. It’s an uphill battle.

      1. As long as you also include China and Russia (throw in the French, Brits and Germany too) with the US, I’m in agreement with you.

        1. I’m focused on the evil empire that I live under, which is the United States. The people who live in those other nations can solve their own problems.

          1. You can’t “solve” our issues without recognizing we are not unique and others will need to change so we can too. Nothing happens in a vacuum.

          2. Unless we are threatened then we need to respect the sovereignty of other nations. We can’t go around trying to impose a solution to the problems of other nations. We each need to solve our own problems.

        2. First, we live here, not in other countries, so our focus should always be what the U.S. does. Second, the U.S. is the dominant empire on the planet and more evil than all those other countries put together. Approximately 20 million people killed since WWII, both directly and by proxy wars. No other country even comes close, nor does any other country have hundreds (maybe a thousand) military bases all over the world.

          What you wrote is a propaganda device called false equivalence.

          1. What is the Communist body toll?
            100 million+?
            Does it assuage our guilt?
            No, but nor do our much lower numbers as a nation assuage Communism’s much much higher death toll.

          2. Did history begin after WW2?
            Do you want to include starvation deaths in Africa in our totals? We get to assign a lot of those to Russia/USSR but with China’s ascension in that region they get more and more responsibility over Africa’s struggles.
            How about internal death’s? NoKo has a nice body count as do other countries in that sphere.
            Body counts do not assuage either party’s (the western trading bloc vs. the “eastern”) guilt nor responsibility to change.

          3. Well, he said 20 million since WW2 and you responded with “What is the communist body toll? 100 million+?” so that’s why I said since WW2. And do you want to count the ongoing starvation deaths our sanctions are causing?

          4. You are missing my point and to tell the truth it’s not worth belaboring it to someone whose fall back position is US is bad, completely at fault and no one, freind or foe is ever at fault for anything.
            You aren’t even attempting to understand nor will you even modestly agree with it so why bother?

          5. I commented on the part of the conversation about deaths since WW2. I’m not missing anything. And my fall back position will change when the US changes. I really don’t know what I’m not attempting to understand. Other countries kill too? No doubt. And when they surpass US belligerence globally, I’ll bitch primarily about them leading the way.

          6. Anyone who responds to complaints about the evils that the U.S. commits around the world with whataboutisms is just making excuses for bad behavior by the U.S. As I’ve already responded to ZaSu, this is just like the child who complains that because someone else did something bad, they should be able to do it too. As Jesus taught, don’t be a hypocrite! If you’re an American, focus on what the U.S. does, not what other countries do.

          7. So it’s numbers with you and not the global interconnectivity of trading blocs.
            The US is wholly responsible no matter what….no other’s actions have any bearing on our own so why even care what they do?
            To each their own….lol.

          8. You really like putting words in other people’s mouths. I made a simple comment about the number of people killed by the US since WW2. I made the comment because I thought you were saying the communists killed 100 million in the same time period. And I blame the US for what the US does. So, when I bitch about the US being in Syria for example, I guess I’m not thinking about the “global interconnectivity of trading blocs”. You’re right. My bad…. LOL.

          9. It’s all about economic blocs of which we are just a part of (ever heard of globalism or colonialism/mercantilism?) but it’s easier to say US=bad isn’t it?

          10. So, what the US is doing in Syria is about economic blocks? And I guess that makes it justified. I see. US=good.

          11. Did I share I approve of either side’s using the Syrians as proxies?
            Do you actually believe there is such a thing as clean hands and pure hearts?

          12. Did I share that I thought there was such a thing as clean hands and pure hearts? What I will say is the US’ hands are the dirtiest and they have the least pure of hearts. When someone else has 800-1000 bases scattered around the world and is sanctioning multiple countries into economic misery, I will put them at the top of the heap.

          13. ZaSu is an Ugly American. She won’t admit to herself or others that the U.S. is the dominant empire on the planet, and therefore is easily the most evil country here. She constantly spouts the propaganda of false equivalence, and uses whataboutism to deflect from the bad behavior of the U.S. The only difference between her and the average Ugly American is that she at least recognizes some U.S. bad behavior. But her characterization and excuses for it are as bad as anyone’s.

          14. Did I state I cared how you view anything?
            I disagree; China in its own way is just as bad. The entire G7 is involved with everything we do but only the US is responsible?
            The Brits? The OG’s of Racism?
            I bet there are quite a few nationalities who would totally disagree with you, too, given what the Brits did to them.
            How about Japan? I’ve met a few Korean gals who still hate Japan; are they wrong not to hate the US?
            My sister’s Iranian boyfriend can tell you horror stories about the Iraqi soldiers who killed his brothers. He hates them but just kind of dislikes us; is he wrong?
            But somehow the US is worse to you but not to those I mentioned, they have their own evil ones
            who they view worse.
            I view the world as being interconnected with everyone having the capacity for evil but you don’t agree… or you do.
            But you just want to say US is bad; good for you…don’t care.

          15. “But somehow the US is worse to you but not to those I mentioned”

            By leaps and bounds. My goodness some Korean girls still hate Japan and an Iranian hates Iraqis worse than us. How can one argue against that being proof that the US isn’t as bad as I think? And no, I don’t “just want to say the US is bad”. I’m not defending other countries, but you are simply out of your mind if you think we compare favorably on any list of the world’s worst belligerents. And you must care because you won’t let it go.

          16. Damn this so important to you…
            Should I just declare I hate the US like you do, to make you happy?

          17. It must be important to you too since you keep replying. I don’t “hate” the US. I hate what the US does around the world. And I don’t have any illusions that other countries would do the same in a similar position. They already do but not to the same degree. And I don’t think it’s even close.

          18. Rather childish comment (he did it, so why can’t I do it). For the millionth time, we don’t live in any other country, so stop obsessing on what they do. We live in the Evil Empire fer crissakes, focus on what the U.S. does. We have no influence, control, or responsibility for what other countries do, except for those that we supply with military weapons.

          19. No control? Then why do you care what we do?
            Surely you don’t believe Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Germany, etc. conduct in the world is not as bad as ours do you?
            But we should only care about what we do because we have “no influence ” nor “control” and the other nations actions don’t impact us?
            Lol…… you are silly

          20. I said to stop obsessing on other countries, because you just use that as an excuse for bad U.S. behavior. You can care about everything, and make brief comments about other bad actors on the world stage, that’s fine. But as an American, your focus needs to be here.

            You view people like me and wars r u.s. as thinking that only the U.S. is bad, but that’s not at all what we said. I know you’ve seen enough of my posts here to know that I think that all large countries are evil and I don’t support any of them. But we don’t live in those other countries, we live here, and this is where our focus needs to be.

          21. You give me permission to make “brief comnents”?
            Oh thank you!
            Will it improve my social credit score?

          22. You obviously don’t need my permission to say anything you want. But if you hypocritically blather on about how evil other countries are, you lose any credibility with any objective clear-thinking person.

          23. Objective….you?
            Jeff my boy, you are so funny…..
            That’s why I almost like you.

      1. The U.S. is currently the only substantial empire on the planet. Even if you want to argue that there are other ones, they pale in comparison. The U.S. is the dominant empire in any case.

        So the answer is … USA, USA, USA!!!

        1. Sure Jeff, we know you love the fascists in China. Social credit scores to assign rights if you earn them by complience especially in regards to the environment is your thing isn’t it?

          1. I heard a different view on China’s social credit score system from someone who has lived in China for the past 27 years. Angelo Giuliano. There’s way too much US propaganda going around these days. So mark me down as skeptical about all the dirt that circulates in the US about China and Russia.

          2. Would Human Rights Watch’s views be of interest about China? It’s kind of hard to be “skeptical” about them

            “Break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins. Completely shovel up the roots of “two-faced people,” dig them out, and vow to fight these two-faced people until the end.
            —Maisumujiang Maimuer, Chinese religious affairs official, August 10, 2017, on a Xinhua Weibo page

            In May 2014, the Chinese government launched the “Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism” (严厉打击暴力恐怖活动专项行动) in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang or XUAR) against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims.[1] Research by Stanford Law School’s Human Rights & Conflict Resolution Clinic and Human Rights Watch, along with reports by human rights organizations, the media, activist groups, and others, and internal Chinese Communist Party (CCP) documents, show that the Chinese government has committed—and continues to commit—crimes against humanity against the Turkic Muslim population.[2]
            This report sets forth the factual basis for that conclusion, assessing available information about Chinese government actions in Xinjiang within the international legal framework.

            Under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), crimes against humanity are serious specified offenses that are knowingly committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population. “Widespread” refers to the scale of the acts or number of victims. A “systematic” attack indicates a pattern or methodical plan. Crimes against humanity can be committed during peace time as well as during armed conflict, so long as they are directed against a civilian population.

            Crimes against humanity are considered among the gravest human rights abuses under international law. The specific crimes against humanity documented in this report include imprisonment or other deprivation of liberty in violation of international law; persecution of an identifiable ethnic or religious group; enforced disappearance; torture; murder; and alleged inhumane acts intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury to mental or physical health, notably forced labor and sexual violence.

            The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, located in China’s northwest, is the only region in China with a majority Muslim population. The Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other communities in the region are ethnically Turkic. Unlike the majority Han Chinese, who are primarily Chinese speakers, the Turkic population is predominantly Muslim and have their own languages. According to the 2010 census, Uyghurs made up 46 percent and Kazakhs 7 percent of the Xinjiang population.

            The Chinese government’s oppression of Turkic Muslims is not a new phenomenon, but in recent years has reached unprecedented levels. As many as a million people have been arbitrarily detained in 300 to 400 facilities,[3] which include “political education” camps, pretrial detention centers, and prisons.[4] Courts have handed down harsh prison sentences without due process, sentencing Turkic Muslims to years in prison merely for sending an Islamic religious recording to a family member or downloading e-books in Uyghur. Detainees and prisoners are subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, cultural and political indoctrination, and forced labor. The oppression continues outside the detention facilities: the Chinese authorities impose on Turkic Muslims a pervasive system of mass surveillance, controls on movement, arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance, cultural and religious erasure, and family separation.

            The United States State Department and the parliaments of Canada and the Netherlands have determined that China’s conduct also constitutes genocide under international law. Human Rights Watch has not documented the existence of the necessary genocidal intent at this time. Nonetheless, nothing in this report precludes such a finding and, if such evidence were to emerge, the acts being committed against Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang—a group protected by the 1948 Genocide Convention—could also support a finding of genocide.

            In 2017, according to official statistics, arrests in Xinjiang accounted for nearly 21 percent of all arrests in China, despite people in Xinjiang making up only 1.5 percent of the total population. Since 2017, Chinese authorities have used various pretexts to damage or destroy two-thirds of Xinjiang’s mosques; about half of those have been demolished outright. Important Islamic sacred sites have been demolished across the region.[5] As part of regional authorities’ intrusive “Becoming Families” surveillance, development, and indoctrination campaign, officials impose themselves for overnight stays at the homes of Turkic Muslims, a practice that authorities say “promote[s] ethnic unity.” In another particularly chilling practice, some Turkic Muslim children whose parents have been arbitrarily detained are placed in state institutions such as orphanages and boarding schools, including boarding preschools.[6]

          3. Organizations like Human Rights Watch have significant western influence. George Soros and Bill Gates are major funding sources for Human Rights Watch. So yes, I am skeptical.

          4. Sure, it’s all lies about Muslim re-education camps/factories.
            Do you need other sources? Pictures? it’s all out there….lol.

          5. You put it far too diplomatically. Groups like Human Rights Watch are U.S. propaganda tools, nothing more. Notice that they only complain about the behaviors of U.S. enemies? Any U.S. human rights group should mainly be complaining about U.S. behavior, otherwise it’s not credible.

          6. ZaSu, this doesn’t mean that I’m right and you’re wrong. It means that I’m skeptical. And, as I’ve previously implied, China’s problems are for the people of China to solve. China’s problems are not what I’m focused on.

          7. I’m not just focused on one country nor just one economic bloc.
            War, I believe is tied to economics as in one country wants another’s stuff.
            Could it be not only do the Chinese and Russians do things because of our actions (the western economic bloc of which we are just a part of) but we do things because of their actions too?
            I know no one cares about Canada but there is a huge political scandal up there because the Chinese meddled in 11 different campaigns during the recent election and Trudeau was caught trying to delay when the public found out about it. The very first question Biden answered (it was about the Iranian drone) he referred to economic trade in the Middle East of which the Brits (and thereby Canada) play a huge part in.

          8. What should we do because of their actions, ZaSu? I say we should set a good example of how we think they should conduct themselves. But we’re doing a very poor job of that.

          9. A good example is one thing but to ignore other’s actions and how they impact you is foolish. No nation does that so why must we the first in history to do so?

          10. Look into those dystopian African cobalt mines that the Chinese operate (colonialism/imperialism is still with us) so we can have catalytic converters and electric car batteries.
            Solar panels are made in Muslim re-education camp-factories is another huge import of the US and tax policy is written to encourage increased usage is another.
            Sure, the “free traders” don’t care how they get cheap products but some people do.

          11. So what exactly do you suggest we do about that, beyond settling a good example? Which we’re not doing.

          12. Develop western sources of these resourses using modern mining techniques might be a start.
            Then we can explore the need or as my old cost accounting professor would say, “look at the numbers”
            Electric car batteries need a 70,000 miles of driving to off set the pollution their manufactoring causes over a conventual vehicle’s pollution causedcby its manufacture.
            That’s without offseting the needed miles one needs to drive to offset the added cost of just buying the car over a conventual one
            Then at the end of life there’s a lot of added pollution in disposal of these car’s batteries that need a huge driving offset too.
            Are these cars adding pollution or subtracting it? Is that huge amount of cobalt REALLY needed?
            Do we really need slave labor goods if we won’t manufacture with slaves ourselves here? Does distance assuage guilt over cruelty?

          13. I agree with that but to simply say “we are bad, no other’s actions impact us in any manner and if they do we must say, “can I have another?”; unlike every other nation does, is just too simplistic of a solution or view of the world for me.

          14. As usual, you didn’t respond to any of the issues I raised in my original response to you. Instead, you resort to childish name-calling. And again, you don’t even know what “fascist” means, so please stop using that term until you learn. There’s nothing fascist about China; if anything, it’s somewhat communist, which is the exact opposite.

          15. Fascism is a form of socialism with its businesses and trade unionism in partnership with the government. Communism removes private ownership of the means of production.
            Heck of a lot of private ownership in China for it not to be leaning towards Fascism nowadays given both are socialistic beliefs not opposites.
            Perhaps Mussolini’s “Doctrine of Fascism” could get us understanding each other better? It does read like a Democrat Party wish-list at times….

          16. Basically, “fascism” means corporations running the government. In China it’s the exact opposite, where the government tells corporations what they may or may not do.

            Corporations running the government is about as far from socialism as it gets, despite Mussolini blathering about this. He said himself that fascism is corporatism. Large corporations are owned by the rich, so a government run by corporations benefits solely or at least mostly them. Socialism is the opposite, where people share wealth more equitably. You’re getting lost in the weeds here instead of focusing on what’s important.

          17. “Corporatism” as used by Mussolini doesn’t refer to businesses running the government. The “corporations” in question are various organized blocs such as guilds/unions. It’s a variant/evolution of “national sydicalism.”

            Marxist-Leninist, Maoist, etc. versions of “socialism” have historically very quickly collapsed into a substitution of the vanguard party for the working class it supposedly serves, that party constituting itself as a new ruling class, and a fairly quick transition to Mussolini’s definition of fascism: “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” If there’s a difference, it’s that the more loudly “socialist” variants of fascism have been more durable than the more loudly “nationalist” variants.

          18. Mussilini “blathers”…..
            Let me guess; you study Wikipedia to garner historical nowledge and read obscure websites with 10’s of comments in their comment sections.
            I honestly thought you were smarter than this but….

        2. The US has been trying, and failing, to be the “dominant empire” for decades.

          Its decline curve since World War Two has mostly been fairly slow. The Russian empire’s decline curve took its first big dive in the early 1990s then slowed down. The Chinese empire has been on a slow ascent curve for about 30 years now, but seems to be plateauing.

          All three will fall apart completely, eventually. And likely be replaced by others.

          1. After every country has its turn, will the countries keep taking turns or will empires go the way of the Warsaw Pact & USSR?
            I’d like to see the Republican-Democratic Party Duopoly Empire in the USA end.

          2. I agree that societies take turns being the dominant empire, though most countries don’t get to do that. So how about changing to a system where there is no dominant empire, or better yet, no empire at all? Of course this means much lower human population and living much more naturally, but that’s the only solution to this that would work. Otherwise, you’re just choosing which evil you hate more, kinda like voting.

          3. “So how about changing to a system where there is no dominant empire, or better yet, no empire at all?”

            I agree completely. The choices for such a system are: 1) anarchism or 2) panarchism.

          4. Honestly, Thomas, I never could see any difference between anarchism and panarcism. But I’m a big fan. Social order based on the voluntary grouping of individuals. No world wars.

          5. Actually, U.S. empire has been building since WWII, not declining. It only started declining recently with the rise of China and alliances between U.S. enemies.

            And yes, all empires and civilizations rise & fall. If you want a stable society, look to hunter-gatherers. The rest are unstable, just like capitalism.

          6. The US barely got out of Korea in 1953 with the status quo ante intact.

            The US lost in Vietnam.

            Its interventions in Latin America and Africa had very mixed outcomes.

            It was never anything resembling a single dominant empire or global hegemon. It aspired to be, but never got there, and overplayed its hand after its major imperial competitor suffered big setbacks with the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the consequent reduction of the Russian empire back from the height of Soviet days to Russia and a few satrapies.

          7. You’re only considering warfare. Also consider U.S. domination of the global economy. For example, why do you think that Cuba has been suffering from U.S. economic sanctions for decades, even though almost every other country opposes them? Same in Venezuela, though the time period is much shorter. Consider Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, where someone who contracted with the CIA explains very clearly how U.S. economic dominance, backed up by the threat of force, works.

            Every country on the planet is afraid to cross the U.S. economically for fear that it will suffer like Cuba or Venezuela. Finally, China and Russia are pushing back, and have allied with India, South Africa, and Brazil (BRICS) in this endeavor. I don’t want anyone to be dominant here, just to have some equitable balance around the world.

          8. That’s not at all true or correct. Where in hell did you get that idea? The U.S. has been by far the dominant economic empire on the planet since WWII, as I learned in an economics course I took taught by a former U.S. Steel economist.

    1. I wish there were Democrats in our current government like Dennis Kucinich. They and Republicans like Ron Paul are the real pacifists. They are against war and drone strikes no matter who is misleading our country and no matter what party they are from.
      In 2024, I’ll vote for the Peoples’ Party Candidate if they are on the ballot in my state.

      1. Refusing to vote Democrat or Republican is a good thing, but don’t put any faith in the electoral process in this country. As the 2014 Princeton study showed, the U.S. is not a democracy, so it really doesn’t matter who you vote for (for multiple reasons). We’re never going to get any significant positive change from anything resembling the current U.S. electoral system. Third parties don’t stand a chance in this rigged system, as you’ll plainly see when you try to convince others to vote for their candidates.

      2. The uni- party will never allow this friend!

        “If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.” Mark Twain

        Aug 24, 2016 If Voting Made Any Difference, They Wouldn’t Let Us Do It

        Don’t be fooled into thinking that the only road to reform is through the ballot box. Whether you vote or don’t vote doesn’t really matter. What matters is what else you’re doing to push back against government incompetence, abuse, corruption, graft, fraud and cronyism. After all, argues John W. Whitehead, there is more to citizenship than the act of voting for someone who, once elected, will march in lockstep with the dictates of the powers-that-be.

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