Whereas the original Cold War was principally about gaining an advantage in the game of nuclear annihilation, this cold war will be principally about cyber and computer dominance, ranging from a plethora of consumer products to naval warfare, since naval engagements of the future will be about which side’s intelligent battle system can incapacitate the other’s first. The first Cold War was about bigness: tank battalions and nuclear warheads. This second one will be about microscopic smallness: silicon chips and electronic circuitry.
While the original cold war signaled the apex of the Industrial Age, the U. S.-China cold war heralds the second phase of post-industrial globalization. The globalization which lasted for three decades following the fall of the Berlin Wall had the effect of unifying the globe and creating new middle classes through free trade and the exchange of ideas – from management practices to scientific knowledge. This second phase, more friendly to pessimists, will be about dividing the globe into different political, trade, consumer, and technological domains. After all, globalization was never a conflict-free security order, as originally advertised, but merely a value-neutral, temporary stage of economic development.
In the original Cold War, President Richard Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger moved closer to Communist China in order to balance against the Soviet Union. This time there is less hope of moving closer to Russia to balance against China, since China and Russia are now allying, rather than on the brink of military conflict with each other as in 1969, two years before Kissinger’s secret trip to Beijing.