Watters: Russian response to sanctions brings back memories of the Cold War
Jesse Watters unpacks risks of Putin putting Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces on alert amid rising tensions.
The war in Ukraine is another indicator of our new cold war, which pits the U.S. and its allies against what I label the alliance of evil, Russia and China, which will create levels of anxiety not experienced since the end of the old Cold War.
This new cold war is different from the old war which was mostly about ideology, communism versus democracy, pitting the U.S. and the former Soviet Union in a death struggle. Today’s conflict is between opposing world views, liberty versus authoritarianism.
Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to the head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Alexander Shokhin during their meeting in Moscow, Russia.
(Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
The old Cold War rose from the ashes of World War II. Recall that President Franklin Roosevelt aligned us with Soviet Russia only because Adolf Hitler attacked Russia, which temporarily put aside our concerns about the communist regime. However, tensions quickly rose after the war when Russia seized much of Eastern Europe and detonated a nuclear bomb, which resurrected then-fresh memories of our devastating bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Cold War paranoia of a Soviet invasion and nuclear annihilation impacted our lives at school and work with mandated duck-and-cover drills, evacuations, and the sound of air raid sirens. Families built backyard fallout shelters, communities designated air raid facilities and the government proliferated educational films on how to survive a nuclear blast. There were warnings about communists in government which fed suspicions even about our neighbors’ sympathies.
Tension increased as the nuclear arms race reached a pinnacle in 1962 when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev sent nuclear-tipped missiles to Cuba. President John F. Kennedy responded by blockading Russian ships heading to Cuba. That confrontation was the closest the Cold War came to escalating to a full-scale Armageddon.
The arms race also was linked with our space programs. In 1961, the Soviets put Yuri Gagarin into orbit, shocking the world and the U.S. responded by accelerating our program because of a concern the Russians would militarize space.
Fortunately, the U.S. and Russia never directly fought the other. However, the period was marked by proxy wars in Korea, Vietnam, Angola, Cambodia and Congo.
In 1981, President Ronald Reagan came to office just in time to demonstrate unflinching fortitude and clarity of aim to lead the West to end the Cold War, by addressing the fight on many fronts. Most importantly Reagan knew that any appeasement to Moscow was as good as aiding a ruthless enemy.
Today, a new existential conflict is threatening the world thanks to the alignment of the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation. Last month, China’s President Xi Jinping and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin met in Beijing, where they released a joint communiqué, which former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) labeled “… a declaration of ideological and geopolitical war against the US….”
There are at least 6 indicators of that new cold war, which I address in my 2018 book, “Alliance of Evil.” Consider some recent examples of Chinese and Russian behavior associated with a few of those indicators.
Relations between the U.S. and both Russia and China are in the toilet. For example, on Feb. 26, 2022, Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president, said Moscow may react to Western sanctions imposed for the Ukraine invasion by severing all diplomatic ties.
World order indicator
Many Western leaders indicate that China and Russia are seeking to “replace the existing international rules” with their own. European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen accused Moscow of a “blatant attempt” to revamp global order. She said that Russia and China want to “replace the existing international rules – they prefer the rule of the strongest to the rule of law, intimidation instead of self-determination.”
Both Russia and China are persistent violators of economic and trade agreements. China seeks ascendancy as the world’s dominant producer of industrial goods and is doing that by violating many World Trade Organization rules, cornering global markets on key commodities, conducting financial warfare using mercantilist behaviors and manipulating its currency. President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative, that touches many countries, is a “debt trap,” according to British MI6 chief, Richard Moore. It leaves behind half-built bridges, overbudget railways and mountains of debt, Moore said.
Defense budget indicator
Both Russia and China spend more of their gross domestic product on defense than the global average, and much of their security investment is hidden, which makes comparisons with the U.S. meaningless.
Chinese defense spending has dramatically increased each year (15.8%) over the past three decades, by more than 250% over the past decade, according to IHS Janes. China’s defense budget amounts to 2.5% of GDP, according to the Pentagon.
Large, sophisticated military indicator
Thanks to heavy investment, both Russia and China are building large and sophisticated militaries to contest the US on a peer basis. The Pentagon’s 2021 report on China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) indicates it fields the largest force in the world and seeks “complete PLA modernization by 2035.” Further, as evidence of its global ambitions, the “PLA [is] developing capabilities to conduct joint long-range precision strikes across domains, increasingly sophisticated space, counterspace, and cyber capabilities, and accelerating the large-scale expansion of its nuclear forces.”
Nuclear forces indicator
Although Russia has a giant nuclear arsenal (6,800 warheads), and threatens to abandon the New START treaty which limits each country, China is creating a serious new threat. The PLA is modernizing and rapidly expanding its nuclear forces – land, sea and air delivery platforms. It has increased it capacity to produce plutonium-239, necessary to build nuclear weapons. Further, the 2021 Pentagon report indicates the regime is expected to accelerate weapons production to at least 1,000 warheads by 2030.
Let there be no doubt, the China-Russia authoritarian alliance is very real, and threatens our world. Both Xi and Putin intend to dominate our future no matter the cost, and Ukraine and perhaps a coming attack on Taiwan are just the beginning.
My book, “Alliance of Evil,” details more indicators of this new cold war. The case for this war is hard to deny, especially given recent developments. Further, the whole world may soon begin to experience the constant, nagging anxiety that was all too familiar for my generation during the old Cold War.
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