Cold wars, in case you're too young to remember, can be ridiculously ruinous ventures. Just ask Vladimir Putin. The Soviet Union came to an end due to Cold War spending when world oil prices collapsed and, with them, its vital source of foreign capital. Sorry, no, it wasn't Ronald Reagan's doing but, since we're on the subject, it was Reagan's Cold War spending that transformed the United States in the brief span of his eight years in office from the world's largest creditor nation into the world's largest debtor nation. See where this is going?
Now the world in 2012 seems perched on the edge of another Cold War. This time the principals would likely be the returning champ and sole true warfare state, the United States, and the upstart, China - Peoples Republic whereof.
The Old Cold War focused on the Fulda Gap, the lowlands between Frankfurt and the former East German border where massive hordes of Soviet Bloc tanks were expected to flood into the West and drive on to the Channel. The New Cold War it seems is looking up, focused in space.
"As China continues to develop as a
nation-state, it was inevitable that at some point
its path forward would drive it to develop its own
space strategy. It was similarly inevitable that
as China began to do so, its plans would come to
be interpreted as additional reason to question
the country's intentions.
predisposed to distrusting Beijing, China's plans
for space would be additional fuel to the fire
regarding their view of China as a strategic
competitor. Beyond this point, China's financial
ability to entertain manned space travel stands in
sharp contrast to American and European fiscal
situations where space exploration is likely to be
one of many inevitable budget sacrifices.
"A recent report, "China's Evolving Space
Capabilities: Implications for US Interests" was
commissioned by the Congressional US-China
Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC).
Released last week, the report acknowledges the
important role space plays in a nation's
conception of itself as a "great power".
"As the report's authors Mark Stokes and
Dean Chen with the Project 2049 Institute write,
"... since the Cold War, space technology has been
viewed as a metric of political legitimacy,
national power, and status within the
"...What ill intent is most troubling to
American policymakers? Simply put, the ability of
China's space strategy to deny access to American
military resources in the event of a conflict over
"...China now has the ability to peer
into the Formosa Strait and surrounding East and
South China Sea areas to see real-time movements
of US naval equipment.
advantage China's space-based infrastructure could
provide it with is related to Beijing's nascent
Anti-Satellite (ASAT) capability. In the event of
a conflict, China's ASAT technology could allow it
to blind large segments of the American
communication infrastructure, making a coordinated
response of military assets difficult, if not
"Beijing's ASAT capability is
not only an example of China's growing
capabilities in space, but also the speed with
which their capabilities have grown. While the
Pentagon has many concerns over China's growing
military abilities overall, Beijing's ASAT
capability remains one of the most vexing.
"...ASAT capabilities are tricky
to defend against and would likely present
American military planners with additional
pressure to launch a pre-emptive strike to disable
China's ASAT launch infrastructure, a move that
would require deep ingress within mainland China,
a move that would make all but certain a broader
"... Handled properly, reports like the most
recent one covering China's building space
capabilities point out the facts of what is
changing on the ground, and make it impossible for
members of the American government to claim that
they were surprised should down the road a
"But handled improperly,
reports like this can be deeply unhelpful as they
feed into a growing narrative over China's
military build-up and naive questions from those
outside China's borders over why the country could
ever need such capabilities.
far, people fearful of China's intentions can
easily become the equivalent of Germany in 1914.
Then, a German government afraid that it would
soon be outspent in an arms race with Russia,
France and the United Kingdom, elected to attack
Russia and France before Germany's military
advantage had completely eroded."
"... Thus far, the
American policy community has been able to walk
this fine line; but as America's economic and
political troubles mount, it will become
increasingly difficult for Washington's
politicians to avoid painting China in similar
light as Germany did to Russia and France in the
This excerpted analysis was the work of Benjamin Schobert of the Rubicon Strategy Group, a strategic analysis consultancy firm. This isn't some journalistic fantasy, not at all.
What does this mean for Canada? Plenty. We do ourselves no favours by ignoring the evolution of a true warfare state within the only country with which we share a border and which is our major trading partner. We do ourselves no favour by ignoring the implications of a neighbour that powerful whose government has become utterly dysfunctional and erratic. We place ourselves at risk if we ignore that our "lead partner" has become hyper-militarized and now views military violence rather than diplomacy as its principle instrument of foreign policy.
And, more specifically, we need to evaluate the F-35 bomber, in the context of what is underway in the U.S. and the rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, not to mention Moscow and elsewhere.
The F-35 is nothing if not a Cold War light bomber. It is a purely offensive weapon, designed to fly a straight line course to a bombing target and then fly a straight line course back out to safety. To the extent its stealth technology works at all, it's pretty much limited to that one profile.
We need to reject the nonsense that the F-35 has anything to do with the defence of Canada, especially in our undefended and vast north.
There was good reason for Canadian support for our allies in the Old Cold War. There are no good reasons for pre-enlisting in the New Cold War.