PREPARING FOR A NEW COLD WAR, Part
1 A war the West can't win
By W Joseph Stroupe
We are not concerned here with the implausible scenario of a Soviet-style
collapse of the American superpower, perhaps induced at the hands of the rising
East. Nor is it about the destruction of the US. Rather than thinking in such
unrealistic black-and-white terms, the reader should consider whether the
current US global position of dominance is at risk, not the existence of the US
as a superpower.
Too many persons have become captive to thinking merely in
terms of of black and white - the US destroys Russia and/or China, or
conversely, they destroy the US. Or, the US economy collapses in ruins or else
it upholds its global dominance, with no consideration given to any eventuality
somewhere between those two ends.
The US need not be destroyed or suffer a collapse as did the Soviet Union in
order to lose its top global position. It could well come about with a
sufficient and permanent loss of US global political, economic and military
leverage (the ability on the ground on an ongoing basis to successfully seduce
and/or otherwise compel the world's players either to align with or else
refrain from opposing US interests and goals), as the reader will see in the
analysis that follows.
One must consider that most of the vectors potentially leading toward a loss of
US global dominance are traveled by insidious progression, not all at once in a
dramatic event. Such vectors lead to the incremental loss of the key
underpinnings of the current US global position in preparation for more
dramatic developments at the very end of the US-led unipolar order.
Hence, any shift of the US out of its global position would be accomplished
simultaneously along the paths of multiple vectors undermining all its key
underpinnings (the political, the economic, the energy security, the
ideological, the military), not simply the military one alone. Furthermore, the
cross-dependencies among all such underpinnings are extensive, such that the
weakening or loss of one results in the compromising of the stability and
potency of all the others.
Finally, there currently appears to exist insufficient understanding and
appreciation of the principles, techniques and the potency of the asymmetric
challenge as it applies to accomplishing a shift of the US out of its global
position. The reader should avoid confining his/her thinking only to the overly
rigid conventional concept of the boxing match, that is, a direct head-to-head
contest between two opponents who are nearly equally matched to each other in
size and power, and consider instead the proven concept of asymmetrical
challenge, which the author will present in detail as it applies to mounting
It isn't yet fashionable to speak openly of a world subdividing itself again
into two camps - those aligned with the US and those aligned with the
Russia-China axis at the core of a new rising, multifarious yet coherent pole
of the East - with the dividing line between the two camps consisting of the
contest for control over global strategic resources.
Despite all the relevant signs pointing precisely in that direction:
The deepening accord in all key spheres between Russia, China, India, the other
rising powers of the East and the key resource-rich regimes of the world.
Steadily rising East-West tensions, the ever-more divergent interests between
East and West.
The increasingly incompatible approaches to global issues and problems
resulting in an ever-widening chasm between East and West.
The fact that the chasm between East and West can only be "bridged"
superficially, merely papered over by ostensibly meaningful agreements that in
fact embody very little of real substance (such as those agreements on North
Korea, Iran, democratic reform and economic liberalization issues.)
Still, the rising of any new coherent pole of the East and the thriving of a
new Cold War between East and West isn't generally accepted as a reality by
most observers - not yet, anyway. Additionally, neither are the rising powers
in the East seen by most observers as able to mount a truly serious challenge
to US global dominance any time soon. Despite its current troubles, the US is
still generally seen as the global colossus that no challenger can successfully
"do battle" with, as it were.
Why are the clear developments signifying the building beneath the surface of a
neo-Cold War and what will be proven here to be the grave and impending threat
posed by the rising East to the current US global position still being widely
overlooked, at least publicly, at this advanced juncture in global
Illusions about global dominance
Fashionable new theories that teetered on the brink of the supposed global
absolutism of US power arose after 1991 in the post-Soviet period, in the heady
days of the aftermath of the astonishing disappearance of the once-feared
Soviet Empire, leaving only one superpower to dominate the globe:
The new theories purported to describe and explain the supposed ushering in,
not merely of a new unipolar configuration for the ongoing world order, but of
a brand new American-made fabric for the international order itself - the de
facto, virtual global totalitarianism of the US superpower - wherein virtually
all global authority and leverage in every sphere - military, economic,
political, ideological, moral and diplomatic - was seen for all practical
purposes as vested in the US, in virtual perpetuity, as "the only superpower
The new fabric was seen as the de facto global ideological, economic and
military totalitarianism of US democracy, and it was declared that from 1991
forward the world order would have to be defined in terms of that new
international, but US-made fabric. According to the new thinking, the world
order would continue for the foreseeable future to be unquestionably US-centric
and US-dominated almost by default.
The leverage of all the other, lesser powers (if exercised independent of, or
in opposition to the US) was seen as a perpetually insignificant factor
unworthy of serious consideration.
According to the new global absolutism theories, the US was ushered into a
unique position such that the position itself inherently and automatically
guaranteed the US possession of virtually inviolable global dominance.
Wherever this absolutist view was not explicitly stated, it was (and to a
considerable extent it still is) almost always implied and assumed. Hence, when
Russia and China began dispensing their "multipolar" ideologies embodied in
their numerous joint statements on the world order starting in 1996, most
observers snickered at the prospects for actually putting an end to US global
dominance any time soon.
There is still a great deal of snickering going on today because, while on the
one hand the illusory concepts of a global American empire and the supposed
global ideological absolutism (totalitarianism) of American-style democracy
have been thoroughly discredited and prevented from achieving realization (by
the global rise and bolstering of authoritarian regimes and "sovereign
democracies"), on the other hand the illusions of a perpetual global
totalitarianism of the US military and of the US economy have maintained until
now their tenacious grasp on the minds of all too many observers, though ever
more serious doubts are arising of late.
According to these and related popular theories, overwhelming US global
economic, political, ideological and military power and leverage doom to
ultimate failure any attempt by lesser powers, even acting collectively, to
actually free the world order from US domination anytime soon. Those
fashionable new theories declare the US cannot actually be shifted out of its
position of global dominance any time soon for the simple reason that the US
will not permit any other power or group of powers to rise to the level of
becoming a match, and therefore a real threat, to the US.
Notwithstanding the current US troubles on the world stage, across the globe
few observers truly see the US in grave jeopardy as respects its global
position. And any who do claim to see it in such jeopardy are still not taken
While China and Russia are certainly rising and their strategic cooperation is
rapidly deepening, both powers are still widely seen as mini-sized as compared
to the US, and both are also still widely seen as inordinately dependent on the
US economy and US wealth.
Militarily, the two powers are seen as a long way off from being able to mount
a serious challenge to the US. Even the Russia-China axis itself, and the wider
rising East, still struggle with the compelling tendency to continue to see
themselves in this very light - standing very small in the enormous global
shadow of the US.
Consequently, the persuasive new theories that arose in the post-Soviet period
to explain the supposed arising of a fundamentally brand new, deeply entrenched
unipolar world order have gained wide acceptance and continue to have a
profound effect on the thinking of persons across the globe.
The US is still widely seen as an enormous colossus whose global position
cannot be gravely endangered except by another colossus of at least equal size
- and no such rival colossus is evident. Instead, it is the multifarious rising
East, a comparatively mini-sized and complex (not monolithic) creature, that is
taking up its position on the world stage as challenger to continued US global
dominance. Could the American Goliath really be at risk from comparatively
mini-sized challengers in the East? Most observers have more than a little
difficulty envisioning how and why such a challenge should genuinely be taken
Not in accord with the facts
But the new theories touting supposed US global absolutism have not, in fact,
enhanced the ability of those embracing them to correctly analyze and forecast
global developments. Quite to the contrary, as developments do keep steadily
advancing deeper into a global realignment of key powers away from the US and
toward the East, and along the trajectory of the rapid rise of the East and the
equally rapid decline of the actual leverage of the West on the global stage,
and toward the arising of a neo-Cold War rivalry between the two sides over
control of global resources, the new theories are getting incrementally pushed
ever closer to the trash bin of mistaken analysis and irrelevancy.
Those (the majority of observers) who still hold to the selfsame new theories
keep trying to force-feed global developments into the idealistic, theoretical,
fashionable mold that increasingly fails to match what is actually happening
across the globe. This has the effect of fogging up the issues, the true
condition of East-West relations, the ability to identify the genuine and
persistent forces still governing those relations even after 1991.
Consequently, the real meaning of ongoing developments gets clouded.
Actual global developments are not tracking along lines that are even remotely
in accordance with the new theories. The US, bogged down in two rapidly
mounting military-economic-geopolitical quagmires (Iraq and Afghanistan),
facing numerous and simultaneous new quagmires (such as Iran and North Korea),
facing a rapidly approaching day of economic reckoning for all its
short-sighted, self-diminishing economic policies and facing also a world
insidiously disconnecting itself from the US as the only global economic engine
and suffering an unprecedented degree of international disdain and isolation,
is in real strategic trouble on the global stage.
Simultaneously, the East continues its meteoric economic and geopolitical rise
with a clear stance as a determined opponent to continued US global dominance.
How is it that the US is truly wedged in a predicament of strategic trouble
rather than merely experiencing a temporary downturn, as so many still assume?
US global leverage collapsing - permanently?
The degree of leverage the US is now actually able to successfully exercise on
the global stage to seduce and/or otherwise compel the world's players to align
with its interests and goals has severely and strategically collapsed from what
it was only five years ago when the attacks of September 11, 2001 occurred. Its
formerly overwhelming degree of global power and leverage is quite literally a
thing of the past. How so?
Not Europe, nor Latin America, nor Central Asia, nor the Middle East, nor South
and Southeast Asia any longer feel obliged to take the US line as they used to,
whether willingly or under the compulsion of formerly overwhelming,
multi-dimensional US strength.
Significantly, that former overwhelming leverage was the guarantee, the
insurance policy that no new arrangements independent of, or in opposition to
the US, ones that might undermine and endanger its global position by
weakening, circumventing and undermining its key underpinnings, could ever be
formed, enacted or could thrive. That all-important (to the US) insurance
policy has already been canceled.
While the US is distracted and suffering worsening strategic trouble on the
world stage noted above, the East and the bulk of the rest of the world are
passing it by as the formerly unquestioned global economic and geopolitical
center and constructing an ever wider, ever deeper web of ties and alliances in
every key sphere (energy, economy, security, diplomacy, ideology), a complex
that largely excludes the US.
That complex increasingly includes key European, Latin American and Asian
states that used to be close US allies but which are now incrementally
realigning with the East. The former depth of cooperation in every sphere the
US used to enjoy around the globe after 1991 has turned appallingly shallow and
virtually meaningless. The new complex of ties and alliances is thriving on a
monumental level without US blessing or direct participation - and the US, in
the face of the enormous collapse of its actual global leverage, can do little
or nothing to undermine it.
Those who calculate that current US troubles are merely a temporary downturn in
US power and influence wrongly assume the world has kept "pristine" the vacuum
created by the current absence of potent US leverage, that the rest of the
world is somehow keeping that vacuum safe for the US alone to re-occupy when it
gets beyond its current troubles.
They have entirely miscalculated in this, for the simple reason that the rising
East and other of the world's key players have rushed into the vacuum,
ingeniously capitalizing on US misfortunes by putting in place the durable new
arrangements (the web of alliances and ties spoken of above) centered around
the rising East that will effectively block the US from ever recovering any
meaningful portion of its lost global leverage. Once a vacuum is created and
subsequently gets filled by something new and potent, as this one is being
filled, then it's simply too bad for the party attempting to recover its
The US is already suffering a real and verifiable permanent downscale of
genuine consequence on the world stage. While still a colossus, it isn't
remotely as massive as most observers apparently assume that it still is.
Consequently, the new theories asserting the virtual perpetuity of overwhelming
US global power and dominance are inordinately based in unfounded assumptions,
wishful thinking and outright fantasy.
But what of the common argument that says current US troubles are little
different from those it encountered during the Vietnam/Organization of
Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) embargo era when it faced much the same
kinds of challenges in the military, economic, energy, diplomatic and
geopolitical spheres all at once, and from which it is assumed the US has
entirely recovered? Why should anyone believe current US troubles are leading
to a permanent and consequential loss of its global leverage?
Those making such arguments are in absolute denial about how fundamentally
different the global situation and US troubles are now as compared to those in
the Vietnam/OPEC embargo era:
In the early-to-mid 1970s, the US was only 36% dependent on foreign oil imports
as compared to its current 60% dependency. Therefore, during the same period in
which the US appeared to fully recover from its Vietnam/OPEC embargo era
troubles it was in reality simultaneously forfeiting to foreigners an even
larger, majority chunk of its energy independence, and along with it its entire
strategic energy security.
In the aftermath of the OPEC (Organization of Petroleim Exporting Countries)
oil embargo of 1973/1974, the US created and established the global liberal oil
market order that now dominates and that features high supply liquidity and
fungibility of oil via the buying and selling of highly liquid oil futures
This is in contrast to the former rigidity, much lower supply liquidity and the
ability to enact the targeted embargo that resulted when the more rigid
bilateral long-term supply contract ruled during the 1970s. To prevent the
reviving of the ability to enact a targeted embargo, the US entirely relies on
unwavering global adherence to the current liberal oil market order. Therefore,
that liberal order is the single point of failure for the US and its economy.
Russia, China, India and the rest of the rising East have never fully trusted
nor supported that liberal order, are not members of