Sunday, September 20, 2020

Why Another Cold War Should be Avoided

The recent directive from the Chinese government that the American consulate in Chengdu must close, marks another step towards a fully realized Cold War. Although China was responding to the Trump administration’s closing of the Houston consulate, these events further claims made by historians that the international stage is poised for another Cold War. All that is missing in 2020 is a proxy war. Indeed, there are many uncertainties on how the conflict between American and China will unfold. What is evident, however, is the rise of anti-Chinese sentiment circulating among domestic politics which, historian Steven Lamy claims, distract from “problems of climate change, global poverty and increasing inequality.” Will Americans be able to overcome the anti-China propaganda created by current leadership and pursue the course of global cooperation and equity?

As an educator who teaches about capitalism, socialism, communism, and democracy, it is important for me to ensure students understand the context for which economic systems were utilized under certain leadership. In other words, the Nazi party had socialism in the name, however, Hitler’s Germany was not socialist. This is not to say that communism is system that should be encouraged just because the Soviet Union used it as a ploy for authoritarianism. Rather, young people should be aware of the perspective to not immediately disavow a characteristic of a different economic system than America’s that could improve equity around the country. The same perspective should be encouraged by American leadership regarding international collaboration. Instead, Americans are prone to the consequences of trade wars, cyberwarfare, and political countermeasures. 

During the previous Cold War, all areas of American society encouraged anti-Soviet propaganda. While the leadership throughout the Soviet Union’s tenure should not have been praised, an entire generation of Americans become conditioned to relating government regulation and assistance to that of authoritarian communism. In short, social programs such as universal healthcare, housing, and income are viewed to be communistic and ill-suited for American society. The victims of this mindset are paradoxically Americans who resent progress towards equity. Whereas the previous Cold War pitted capitalism vs. communism, the current international agenda is seeing globalism oppose nationalism.

    To be sure, China’s government is not a system that should be commended. Human rights and individual liberties are not as accessible in China as they are in many western countries. However, Americans must be able to differentiate the leadership of a country to that of the country’s citizens and the benefits of cooperation such as economic growth, counterterrorism, and environmental protection. Furthermore, the anti-Chinese, “America first” mentality encouraged by United States leaders, such as President Trump, alienates and distracts the American public from more pressing issues. Shifting international policy away from global cooperation will increase foreign and domestic issues of economic inequity. 

    The “us versus them” mentality in the last Cold War was as damaging then as it is now. In the last thirty years America has enjoyed being unchallenged as a superpower. However, Americans should be hard-pressed to avoid another Cold War due to the socio-economic consequences still evident in South America and across Asia. Although America came out on-top, many countries felt the brunt of the United States and the Soviet Union’s competition for international influence through proxy wars, espionage, and political corruption. It is vital to avoid a replay of twentieth century international and domestic politics if America and the world are to tackle twenty-first century issues. Americans should be voting in leadership that encourages cooperation and not division if those issues are to be solved. Americans should heed the warning of historian Robert English that “Only we can destroy ourselves” in the fight against liberal international cooperation.

Location: Maryland, United States


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