One, while talk of Cold War II has been common for several years, as of last week it is official policy in Washington and at NATO headquarters in Brussels. This is a grave, reckless step. In broad outline what just occurred is not unlike what Washington did in the late 1940s to initiate Cold War I. The consequences in that case cost millions of lives, trillions of dollars and endured for 42 years. We still wear the scars.The US is betting the farm on securing permanent US hegemony. It's a bet with huge stakes on the table, global dominance for the foreseeable future and trillions of dollars worth of loot. The price? World peace and distributed property.
Two, President Obama’s foreign policy legacy is now complete in outline. We now know what he will hand his successor, and it is long on mess, short on success. Once again, an outgoing president surrenders ground by leaving unexplored nearly all opportunity for authentic progress toward sound, 21st century policies abroad. Once again, a new president must begin — at least on the foreign side—further back on history’s clock than the point from which his or her predecessor set out four or eight years earlier.
The disorder and dangers just baked into our cake are awful enough to contemplate but only part of the story. There is also the question of urgency. We do not have time for this, readers. There is too much to be done to let generals and profiteers, the one often blurring into the other, indulge in another global confrontation. Too many openings are lost, and this mistake is not free of cost—as Cold War I ought to have taught us.
National decline is not inevitable, I continue to insist, but it is made of wrong turns such as this. That, indeed, is among Cold War I’s greatest lessons: In what we take to be our moment of triumph we find defeat.
Lawrence includes China along with Russia later in the article. Longer term, China is the greater threat to US hegemony than Russia.
The West escalates with Russia: Make no mistake, a second Cold War is now official NATO policy