Multi-polarity doesn’t have to be a disaster. It certainly could be. As competition between the US and China has ramped up over the past year or so, the focus has been on violent possibilities, and the US defense department has led the charge. That’s certainly the point of the exercise. China is being turned into an enemy so we can sell weapons. The competition now looks to me to be inevitable. But, as this video entreats, we can change the tone of that competition.
We can change the frame from war to friendly competition. The last cold war had horrific consequences, but it had positive ramifications as well. If we act proactively we can optimize the mix of the next competition for positivity rather than horror. This may sound ridiculous, but it’s not. The tone of the New Cold War will determine whether or not it kills us.
Video Transcript after the jump…
The Trade War. The Battle over Huawei. Iran sanctions. South China Sea Islands. Swordfish missiles, Artificial Intelligence and quantum computing. Over the past year the United States has decided to start a fight with China, and it’s beginning to look quite grim. We are being sold the idea that these two titanic powers are heading for an inevitable clash. The prestige press is filled with predictions of doom. But they are all missing something very important.
The new Cold War could be kinda fun. And profitable. Seriously. Over the past 30 years, the United States has demonstrated that it is a downright menace without something real to struggle against. Whether its a frontier, the Nazis or the Soviets we do better with a challenge. In 1989 we were given a great opportunity. But Instead of using the end of the cold war to build a better world we invented a series of enemies to justify spending money on weapons. Iran, Russia and Saudi inspired terrorism are all threats that the US government had to work very hard to create and maintain. China is different. It’s not there yet, but the potential threat is real.
China’s current approach, both Communist and capitalist, is deeply silly and unwieldy. But they will find a better approach eventually, and then the 21st century will get very, very interesting. You may have noticed that the world is taking steps into space again after a 50 year hiatus. With real competition from China, the US might actually have to focus on real achievement again, rather than tax cuts, social media apps and absolutely meaningless culture war bullshit. It’s easy to mock moon bases and space forces, but it’s stuff like that that drives the future. Looked at one way, almost all of the technical advances of the past half century came out of interstate competition, from computing to GPS.
The Space force idea itself is worth pondering. It would obviously be better to not do another Cold War. 10s of millions died in the last one. But I am afraid that choice has already been taken away from us. Washington DC has been working for a new Cold War for decades, and Trump has launched it in the dumbest way possible. It’s easy to be pessimistic now, and fall into exactly the militaristic frame that the Defense industry so desperately wants. What we need now is optimism.
We need space exploration not a space force. The last Cold War brought a lot of dumb racism and violence, but it also brought healthy societal competition. The extraordinary sacrifices of the Civil Rights movement would not have been as successful if the US hadn’t been trying to keep countries of color from going communist. Making the US criminal justice system more just would provide a fantastic contrast to a China of growing concentration camps.
The new cold war will be fought on every continent just like the last one. If we let the Pentagon’s pessimism keep driving the agenda the 21st century will be just as bloody as the 20th. Also we will lose. The US Military Industrial Complex just spent 2-5 trillion dollars losing Iraq and Afghanistan. If we keep that shit up we will all be speaking Chinese by 2100. So let’s be optimistic. Let’s focus on trade and diplomacy. Let’s focus on science and space.
Let’s rebuild our state department and focus on developing countries rather than destroying them. This approach won us the Cold War in Asia after we cut out the Vietnam War lunacy. The world is in a much better place than it was at the outset of the last cold war. Back then, e0z
very continent was mired in poverty, and the violent recovery from European and US Empire was a happy hunting ground for proxy wars. The more literate, wealthy and unified countries of today, on every continent, will be better able to stand against US and Chinese war mongering. If we play our cards right, the rest of the world could even benefit from US and Chinese competition. We are already seeing this in Africa.
So am I saying that the new Cold War is a good thing? Hell no. Its an atrocity in the making, and something we should have grown out of as a species decades ago. But if we are pessimistic about it, we will fall into the militaristic trap Washington DC has set for us. Optimism could save all of our lives.