The New Cold War

Is the world entering a new cold war? Our answer is yes and no. Yes if we mean a protracted international rivalry, for cold wars in this sense are as old as history itself. Some became hot, some didn’t: no law guarantees either outcome. No if we mean the Cold War, which we capitalize because it originated and popularized the term. That struggle took place at a particular time (from 1945–47 to 1989–91), among particular adversaries (the United States, the Soviet Union, and their respective allies), and over particular issues (post–World War II power balances, ideological clashes, arms races). None of those issues looms as large now, and where parallels do exist—growing bipolarity, intensifying polemics, sharpening distinctions between autocracies and democracies—the context is quite different.

 

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