The Last Thing This Century Needs
The idea of a Cold War II between the West and China has quickly evolved from a misleading analogy into a self-fulfilling prophecy. But contemporary China is nothing like the Soviet Union, and in today's world, we simply cannot afford another clash of mutually exclusive systems.
BERLIN – This month’s G7 summit seemed to confirm what has long been apparent: The United States and China are entering into a cold war similar to the one between the US and the Soviet Union in the second half of the twentieth century.
The West no longer views China just as a competitor and rival but as a civilizational alternative. Once again, the conflict seems to be about mutually exclusive “systems.” Amid an escalating clash of values and competing claims to global power and leadership, a military confrontation – or at least a new arms race – seems to have become a distinct possibility.
But on closer examination, the Cold War comparison is misleading. The systemic rivalry between the US and the Soviet Union was preceded by one of the most brutal and catastrophic “hot” wars in history, and reflected the frontlines of that conflict.