25 thoughts on “Cold War II”

  1. Numbering the cold wars is silly: There is only one, from 1946 to the present, and into the future. Originally the USA and Soviet Union/Russia, now Russia and China, and soon, mostly China….

    The historical model is much like the 18th-19th century English/French conflicts.

  2. I’d be more concerned about this, if the alternative to perpetual rivalry weren’t so ugly. Even in an ideal world where everyone is a developed world, capitalist democracy there would be rivalry between the various countries. The only way really to get rid of it is via a single global government where countries are near emasculated.

    1. How about Earth vs Mars.
      Hyper rich Martian which don’t pay taxes- and don’t
      allow hyper rich Earthlings to be Martians.

    2. War follows Commerce. Without something to defend any expedition to the area is a ‘Vanity Project’ and will only be remembered by historians. Since we, Humanity, ain’t angels it can be a good thing in moderation.

    3. Marxists still compete against each other. There is no getting rid of competition and I don’t know why anyone would want to. Competition is a human trait.

  3. A Cold War II requires a peer opponent. We don’t have one.

    Post-Soviet Russia certainly doesn’t qualify. It was already making a long march down the trail to oblivion before its ruinous decision to invade Ukraine raised its cadence to double-time.

    The PRC’s economy is busily coming apart at the seams. It imports most of its energy and over half of its food. Both will be far harder to get and be much more expensive quite soon. The regime itself may suffer a brittle fracture if Xi’s enemies manage to oust him at the upcoming 20th Party Congress. Even if he manages to hold on, the PRC’s future prospects are quite grim in the near term and even worse further out.

    1. Perhaps. But if they decide to distract from, or ward off, a collapse by spiking nationalist fervor and invading Taiwan?

      That scenario looks increasingly plausible to me, and I’m not at all sure how it plays out.

      1. The PRC lacks the capability to invade Taiwan. It has no amphibious warfare capability to speak of and little airlift.

        The Taiwan Strait is several times wider than the English Channel. Absent air supremacy, Hitler couldn’t invade Great Britain. The same applies, in spades, to the PRC vs. Taiwan. The PRC lacks the ability to achieve air supremacy over the Taiwan Strait if the U.S., or even Japan, comes to Taiwan’s aid as both have pledged to do.

        Taiwan is seriously lacking in suitable invasion beaches as well. The few that exist have been zeroed by Taiwanese artillery for decades.

        The PRC could make quite a mess of Taiwan with missiles, but can’t really put boots on the ground there.

    2. Nazi Germany never had the economic juice to take on the rest of Europe and the US, but that didn’t stop Hitler from trying. War is rarely entered into rationally (at least in the case of the instigators) and it would be unwise to think China will be an exception. In fact Chinas’ failing economy and shrinking/restless population just may be catalysts for war rather than against.

      1. Some nations start wars when they feel like they’re on the upswing. Others do so when they feel they are slipping. The record of success for nations launching wars for the latter reason is not impressive. The Argies tried that in the Falklands 40 years ago, for example. The Russians are trying that now in Ukraine. If the PRC elects to join the “last chance distraction war” club, it’s hard to see how it comes out ahead.

    3. “A Cold War II requires a peer opponent. We don’t have one.”

      Not really. It requires a country, or group of countries, that are just powerful enough to be a threat to us. Victory is never assured. Look at Russia or even Afghanistan, where we lost because we grew tired of killing. Now, things have changed and another Afghanistan type of war could go very different for us.

      1. The Barbary Pirates were not a “peer opponent” and they still caused considerable damage for centuries. Can a similar milieu in military technology and geo-, *err*, astropolitics occur … who knows?

      2. We lost Afghanistan because we didn’t accept, going in, that we would need to keep charge of it for 20 or 30 years and straighten the place out. In the event, we doomed ourselves to a game of whack-a-mole for two decades under a pair of opportunist governments whose effective control – except of us – stopped at the Kabul city limits.

        For good or ill, we’re out of there now.

        Where would you see us getting involved in another Afghanistan-like war? This seems to me to be a peculiar concern.

    4. “A Cold War II requires a peer opponent. We don’t have one.”
      I was wondering about Africa.
      But led me wonder about suborbial travel across the Sahara desert.
      Or it seems that desert kind of cut it in half.
      Anyhow advantage of ocean launch is having lots of area. Can have spaceport in the Sahara desert.
      Of course other advantage of Ocean is logistics- which is quite problem with a desert.
      But if we develop suborbital, will it be used to cross the Sahara desert.
      US military want get to Africa using Starship. And from Africa where would want do suborbital?

      1. Africa is not, and never will be, a peer opponent – not even if the entire continent united to fight us. That’ll happen about ten minutes after the last proton decays.

        Most of Africa isn’t going to do well during the remainder of this century. That being the case, there is no reason at all why one would want to get there in a such a hurry that suborbital rocket travel would look to be a good idea.

        As for the Sahara, it was grasslands less than five millennia ago and could well be so again in a century or two. That will be a good thing for whatever population Africa still has by that time. But I don’t think that population is likely to be very large.

    5. The PRCs economy may be coming apart but they just built their first real (CATOBAR) aircraft carrier, have dozens to hundreds of ICBMs and are expansive and threatening the South Asian Sea areas, Korea and Japan.

      And because of that, the threat must be honored.

      1. We are coming apart and won’t have the economic might to counter anyone unless we get our shit together and that won’t happen until we balance the budget and have abundant energy. Not even gonna get started on it for two more years.

        Next year freedom gardens and endless talk about death spirals as Congress makes the printing press go brrr.

      2. Said threat must be honored so long as it exists. But the PRC’s recently launched catapult-equipped carrier will not be joining the fleet for at least a few more years. By that time, the PRC may well have rattled to pieces.

        Major PLAN capital ships have a record of spending years fitting out and shaking down. I found it noteworthy that Fujian’s supposedly U.S.-leading catapults were each covered by what looked to be large wooden sheds in pictures and video released of the launching ceremony. Until further notice, Fujian is a Potemkin carrier.

        The PRC has a lot of missiles, but not many of them seem to be actual ICBMs. The PLAN is barely a blue-water navy and is entirely incapable of even defending its own commerce should such a need arise – which it certainly would if it makes any sort of run at Taiwan. A couple of Arleigh Burkes near the Strait of Hormuz could cut off much of the PRC’s energy imports indefinitely. The PRC is exquisitely vulnerable to interference with its import/export ship traffic.

        1. Things change. China is capable of changing. The issues you lay out aren’t impossible problems to solve but they will take time. How much time is uncertain. I think the fatalism is misplaced but there are certainly reasons to be optimistic.

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