CCCA viewpoint

Thoughts on a cold war

27 October 2021 | CCCA

The term Cold War is most recognised as the rivalry/conflict between the US and the Soviet Union (USSR) which began at the end of WW2 where the US allies and the Soviet armed forces met in European and divided Europe into Western and Eastern Europe, with Germany divided into East and West Germany. With this division comes the formation of NATO in the west and the Warsaw Pact in the east.   

In reflecting on the events of the Cold War, a historical definition of Cold War 1 would contain 3 elements, (1) An ideological warfare between US (promoting democracy) and the Soviet Union (promoting Communism), each proclaiming that their ideology was the best for the world; (2)  A real arms race with nuclear proliferation  with accumulation of nukes and nuclear tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles piling on both sides, that can blow the planet up several times over and (3) an absence of economic relations, i.e. US and the Soviet Union do not trade with each other.

It was not uncommon back in the days of Cold War 1 to welcome each new day of peace without a nuclear bomb raining down on us.  Every day without a nuclear incident was a blessing.  The Cuban missile crisis brought us to the brink of nuclear war with Kennedy vs Khrushchev; luckily, the Soviet fleet carrying the missiles to Cuba turned back and a nuclear holocaust was avoided.  

The end of Cold War I started with the Soviet leader Gorbachev and terminated with the fall of the Berlin Wall and most of us then, were jubilant about the event which means we could sleep well knowing there would be not nukes flying around tomorrow.  The arms and space race did put a heavy dent on the Soviet budget whereas the US, as the richest nation on earth could afford the costs. The Soviet introduction of “capitalism” had often been cited as a cause for the fall of the Soviet empire, as they failed to control the rise of capitalism. Lastly, the Kissinger/Nixon’s successful outreach of the US to China during Deng’s reign (who allowed free market economy), having a wedging effect on the relations between USSR and China.   

The love-hate relations between China and the Soviet Union were complex including territorial claims by China on land annexed by the Soviet Union in NE China to the relationship between Mao and Stalin during the Korean War and the perception that Stalin was reluctant to assist China by not giving air cover.

In war and peace, there are no permanent enemies or friends, only permanent interests (Kissenger). With the rise of China, economically and militarily, the geopolitical relations shift with the US now considering China as the rival morphing into adversary, enemy and possible Cold and hot war. China was an US ally during WW2 and war against the Japanese. China had fought the US in the Korean War and assisted North Vietnam in the Vietnam War but friends again during Nixon era until the end of the first decade in the 21st Century when the US realised that China has risen to become a challenging rival to US primacy and hegemon. Hence, the Thucydides trap sets in.  

The recent US-China split began with Trump’s administration trade war with China and from there, things get from bad to worse; tariff war, sanction, closure of diplomatic posts, persona non grata for journalists, banning, war on tech companies (the arrest of Meng Wenzhou in Canada on extradition charges, allegation of genocide and human rights abuses, using HK as an ideology pawn, flexing muscles in SCS (both sides), and the latest inflaming Taiwan issue to a possible hot war.

Based on the above, we have no hesitation in calling the current relations as Cold War 2, although some geopolitical commentators may disagree with the conclusion. We define Cold War as a conflict/rivalry between “enemies” (real or imaginary) who uses megaphone diplomacy, loud rhetoric, muscles flexing, sabre rattling, showing off armaments (nukes, missiles, SSN, fighter jets, aircraft carriers etc) but not actually going into a hot war.  

In others words it is more of a verbal and optical threat; sprinkled with psychological taunts and goading surround allies on both sides.  

There are two differences between Cold War 1 and 2. In Cold War 2, there is an absence of ideological warfare promoted by China however, the US continue to promote Democracy. Hence, this is only one sided; (2) the US and China are big trading partners and there is no complete economic decoupling. In fact, the two countries are dependent on each other, but they chose to ignore it.  

Despite the qualitative difference in the nature of the Cold Wars definitions, the central theme remained unchanged, i.e., a psychological warfare using verbal and visual means of provocation without pressing the nuke button. Many pundits would agree that such dangerous games could led to a nuclear war by accident and not by design.  

According to the article by Hujian Wu in Quora, it is the second time that American has attempted to contain China but fell apart when her Asian allies did not wish to forgo trading with China. Hence, China Containment II will also fail for the same reasons.

The use of Taiwan as Cold War pawn is most dangerous and supersedes the danger presented by the Cuban missile crisis. This time the US navy may be carrying nukes and missiles to Taiwan; US did not claim Cuba to be her territory but China and UN recognise Taiwan is part of China and this primes the PLA to fight to the death.   

Peace can only come when we understand the conflict and what feeds the fuel of war. When such understanding is known, it will counter warmonger’s propaganda and the interests of the military industrial complex profit motives. If the global citizens can understand the immorality of putting profit ahead of human survival, then the world will be at peace. 

 The promotion of peace is more important than greed for power and money. Anyone knows how many broken families, broken hearts, refugees, starving children, orphans, suicided veterans, death bodies etc we have created since war was created in history? Imaging a world without war, the enormous power and money can be spent for the common good of humanity? 

War is a crime against humanity no matter under what excuses and who starts it. Imaging sending members of one family to kill members of another family in war and vice versa? Imaging sending your sons and daughters to kill someone else’s son and daughters in war and vice versa? Imaging sending your husbands and wives to kill someone else’s husbands and wives in war and vice versa? Imaging sending your parents to kill someone else’s parents in war and vice versa? Imaging sending your good friends and partners to kill someone else’s good friends and partners in war and vice versa? Don’t tell me that is not a war crime? Blessings to all our so-called leaders who are thinking of war.

Matthew 5:9 — Blessed are the peace makers for they shall inherit the earth. 

Principal authors, Tony Pun and Dr Ka Sing Chua. This commentary is supplied by the Chinese Community Council of Australia Incorporated. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors.

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