World should be wary of Cold War policies
The world seems to be locked in an age of agitation. While
globalization is bringing countries, big and small, closer, they are
also alienated from each other due to distrust.
This mood is clearly being displayed at the ongoing Defence
Ministers’ meeting for ASEAN countries in Hanoi.
When countries are on alert against each other, diplomacy between
countries can be charged and even provocative and a confrontation may
even seem imminent.
the current situation is put into perspective, staying guarded against
each other may be seen as progress from the violence and wars from last
century. The cost of building and paying for militaries is soaring;
meanwhile, mutual trust and friendship are difficult to build. Staying
wary has become a pragmatic choice of many countries.
China no doubt is watching the US closely, a result of being
constantly on the radar screen of the US. The uncertainty between the
world’s top two economies also instills a certain mood of suspicion
among other Asian countries.
This mistrust might last for a long time. Though better than the
times of violence and the Cold War, there is no guarantee the countries
involved can be assured of victory. If one listens to the clamour of US
politicians against China, there are plenty of reasons to worry about
the world returning to the dark days of the Cold War.
Is mutual trust a viable goal? The ups and downs of the Sino-US
relationship may suggest no, but relationships among some European
nations offer some hope. Mutual trust is the key words of politicians of
both China and the US, though they are also busy figuring out how to
gain the upper hand in a military conflict should it arise.
War among major powers is unlikely to happen in the age of nuclear
weapons, but no country is willing to take any chances when it comes to
national safety and sovereignty. Since the military spending of the US
is equal to the next largest 15 nations combined, it sets a bad example
for others to follow. US foreign policy triggers a vicious cycle. The
war on terror is a good example, the more one country invests in it, the
more it needs to protect against terrorists.
The question remains of how to prevent the world from slipping back
into darker times. It is not easy. In an anarchical world, the existing
powers naturally tend to secure advantages by unfair means, limiting
room for the new power to grow.
Rational judgement shows that moving toward mutual trust costs less
than going back to the Cold War. China is pledging to rise peacefully;
perhaps the US can make a similar peaceful declaration.