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World should be wary of Cold War policies(Global Times,October 12, 2010)
2010-10-14
 

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 defense 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.

When 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 clamor 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 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 judgment 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.

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