I’ve recently got the impression that worldwide violence has been increasing but I understand now it may be because we’ve just entered Cold War II, which is characterized by superpowers’ inability to win wars on their own anymore; America’s decline; Russia’s, China’s and the Muslim world’s ambitious agendas; the rise of new nuclear powers; and constant proxy wars.
Are we entering a new cold war with the above specifications? Is there just an increasing instability, with violence remaining constant? Or are both instability and violence increasing at the moment?
I’m not really sure that you can call it Cold War II. There will probably be a catchy name for whats going on sooner or later but we don’t have it yet.
The big difference is this: Russia and China and both jockeying to gain control of larger spheres of influence, grab natural resources (South China Sea and the Arctic) and maintain friendly buffer states on their borders (or destabilise unfriendly ones). There is not really any idealogical war like the cold war was. All the states involved are capitalist, its just about expanding control of their own territory so local corporations and oligarchs can make more money and stay in control. Meanwhile India and Brazil want to get into the game as well.
The mess in the middle east is a separate affair. The US created a power vacuum in Iraq and now Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting a proxy war for influence over what is left of Iraq.
In short no, I don’t see it as Cold War II, it’s a different beast altogether.
The difference is that this time it is not officially ideological and actually based upon percieved national interests (last time these were there as well, but hidden by the ideological bent).
The second and more important difference is that both the US and Russia are a lot more weaker this time vis a via the rest of the world. China is a major player and regional powers are going to be big players in their own regions.
It neatly resembles the world between the Wars of the 20th century. This time the US is the UK, the Russkies, the Germans, the Chinese the US.
I’m aware that various media is using the term “cold war II”… but I think that’s a inaccurate name and one unlikely to be picked up by historians in the long term. The current tension between Russia and the US / EU is only a small part of the larger picture of the transition from a unipolar world with the US as the sole superpower to a multipolar one where five or six great powers are all fighting to keep their spheres of influence intact.
There’s also a huge power differential now between the US and Russia, much greater than it was during the Cold War. Their military budget is only about 15% of ours, and much less than the combined budgets of Britain and France alone. Russia is simply not a superpower. Mexico with nukes I believe is what someone once said. It’s not just snark. Mexico and Russia have nearly the same nominal GDP(Russia has an advantage once you take into account PPP). Added to that, Russia is going through demographic decline. In 20 years, it will be an insult to Mexico to compare them to Russia economically.
Plus we have allies, Russia doesn’t really, and any attempt to bring her old allies to heel would probably result in war with NATO.
We are transitioning to a multi-polar world, which has been the norm throughout most of our history.
That means sweet fuck all. Mexico is a nation as it was said, “so far from God, so close to the United States”. Russia is a country which covers 1/6 of the Earth’s landmass. It is always going to be a Great power. The military budget is also not really comparable, a significant percentage of the US Defence budget is on personnel costs.
More to the point, the Russians are already adjacent to any area they want to be in and the US no longer has the kind of infrastructure it did during the Cold War.
What you’ve detailed is that Russia has many advantages as a nation that Mexico does not. It still does not make them a superpower. I never argued that invading Russia would be easier than invading Mexico. Only that Russia is a regional power, with a stronger neighbor than they(China), and with a stronger bloc(EU) also neighboring them. If Russia is a superpower, then there are three of them plus a superpower bloc, which isn’t really superpowers at all, but more like the multi-polar world our grandparents and great grandparents(or parents, if you’re really old) are used to.
In the actual Cold War, the Soviet Union was the most powerful nation on the Eurasian land mass with the ability to project power far from its borders. Today it is the second most powerful single nation, far behind China and less powerful than Britain, France, Germany, or Italy alone. Vastly behind them economically and militarily combined. And those nations can become exponentially more powerful if they actually tried to build formidable militaries, whereas Russia spends a lot more than they ideally should be given how poor they are and couldn’t gear up much if it came to war except in manpower(and again, demographic decline will make that a hollow threat soon enough).
You are far more intelligent then this. Canada lies in North America, separated from the action zones by huge Oceans. Russia borders, Europe, China, C Asia, Mid East, the Far East, Japan, the Americas. Any place they wish to go, they can just sent forces there through their own territory, and usually they have forces there already.
Superpowers are so last century anyway. But, that ignores the fact that both China and Europe are heavily dependant on Russia and its resources. The Chinese are already buying Russian gas and investing billions in Russia. The Euros are heavily coupled with the Russian economy, especially its gas sector, why do you think the response to the Ukraine mess has been so muted?
Anyhow, the real power in this upcoming globe will be China.
OK, I get the accessibility thing - although long borders are also a vulnerability if Russia is ever put on the defensive. Does Russia have enough fighting men to defend its border with China?
But natural resources don’t make a country strong - otherwise, Saudi Arabia would be more than a regional power. In fact, history has shown us that it’s often the *lack *of natural resources that makes countries great, because it forces them to come up with other sources of income, like industry, commerce and conquest.
There is of course the nuclear dimension, the INF treaty for instance allows Russia to retain IRBM’s on the Chinese border.
I don’t think you can compare Russia with S Arabia. S Arabia is sand, oil and nothing else. The Russians have been a leader in scientific development for 150 years. They still have a huge industrial base.
I would agree and disagree wrt to resources.It is true that resources are often a curse. But lack of them are also a curse. You need a happy level, enough to get the local economy kickstarted, but not so much that it becomes the focus of your endeavours. The UK became industrialised first because of excellent coal and charcoal reserves for instance.
Russia’s demographic decline has, I think, mostly bottomed out. Their fertility rate is now 1.7 and rising, Mexico’s fertility rate is 2.2 and dropping. (Fertility rates all over Latin America have cratered in the last couple of decades). Yes, Mexico’s population is going to grow relative to Russia, but that is going to end sooner than you think, and the differences aren’t actually that big anymore.
Also, Russia doesn’t have any strong allies, but they’re allied with quite a few middle-income countries both nearby and overseas (Venezuela, Belarus, and so forth).
Russia is a superpower-they have nukes and modern weapons. i guess the real question is: is the war in Ukraine of importance to the USA? The Russians have indicated that they regard US meddling in Ukraine is very serious. You would have to ask Putin why this litttle war has become such an issue. China is engaged in lining up raw materials sources. The USA needs to assess any action before raising their ire-so far they have done nothing illegal.
Israel has nukes and modern weapons. Not a superpower. Regional power, definitely. Russia is a regional power, and not even the most powerful country in their region.
As for allies, Russia has no allies that would come to their aid militarily other than Belarus. Which might as well just be called Russia, because Belarus is in no way independent in any meaningful sense other than their official status.