What will be the long term term effects of the Ukraine-Russia war for which an American may need to be prepared? In the article excerpted below, Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute writes for 19fortyfive about how The Ukraine Crisis Could Spark A New Cold War (Or A Nuclear War). While much has been written over time on nuclear war survival and preparedness, what are the effects of a cold war? While many of have lived through at least part of the recent cold war between the US and the Soviet Union, would a new cold war even look the same?
Some of the main domestic effects of the last cold war were increased military spending (and attendant rise of the military-industrial complex) and high taxation. Toward the end of the cold war, during the Reagan presidency, the populace had become upset with high taxes and the administration switched from high taxation to high borrowing. High levels of government borrowing has continued to the present. High taxation leads to poor business conditions which leads to a weak economy as seen in the US in the late 1970s. High government borrowing leads to strange market and economic conditions, the result of which has yet to be realized, but in the worst case leads to financial/political crisis.
That said, would a new cold war necessarily be the same? Post World War 2 the US was in an enviable economic situation and was headed into its years of vast economic growth in world trade. The US was entering into its years of world hegemony, powerful and strong. Now, the US is a weakened nation and is coming out of two years of COVID-induced economic weakness with many citizens out of work or having closed businesses. There is little domestic support for a new war, cold or hot. A party that attempts to raise taxes or debt in order to finance a new cold war may not stay in power for long.
I am no expert on these matters, so my conclusions may be incorrect. I don’t know if the US is capable of sustaining a cold war like the continuous military buildup that occurred during the cold war with the Soviets. But it does appear that we entering a time of at least increased hostility and competition with Russia and China.
If China moves to establish control over Taiwan (which may be considered an invasion), will the US defend Taiwan or will we stand by as we have with Ukraine? Some people believe that the US is obligated to defend Taiwan, but there is actually no agreement to do so, and the US has followed a policy of strategic ambiguity in that regard. Failure of the US to defend either Ukraine or Taiwan may lead to further reduced US influence worldwide and reduced trust in US assurances. Reduced trust and influence may result in more rapid de-dollarization, all of which would have their own effects on the US economy for which to prepare.
Having sown the wind in Ukraine, Russia is reaping the whirlwind.
Its aggression is criminal and unprovoked. The US and its allies contributed to the conflict. But the decision for war—which already is resulting in significant death and destruction—was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s.
If there is one lesson of Moscow’s brutal and unjustified invasion, it is that aggressors should choose their victims carefully. As the Balkan Serbs learned decades ago, it is best not to attack people in Europe, which guarantees heavy media attention in Western capitals. This may be the first conflict in which the public is driving sanctions and boycotts, in this case against all things Russian, including individuals who had nothing to do with their government’s decision for war.
In contrast, Washington has been bombing and invading nations in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia for years. Despite wrecking entire states and ravaging their peoples, US policymakers have never been held accountable. The total number of victims in these wars—killed, wounded, displaced—the number in the millions. Washington typically tires of fighting and either downgrades its role or simply leaves, as in Afghanistan, without even apologizing. But no American has ever faced economic sanctions or been charged with war crimes.
Today Ukrainians and to a lesser degree, Russians are suffering. The long-term consequences for Americans and Europeans will be serious as well. No one knows how the fighting will end, but Washington should begin planning for the aftermath…
Washington’s chief responsibility today is not to save Ukraine but to prevent the US or allied involvement and possible war, especially nuclear war, with Russia. Washington and Moscow avoided such a cataclysm during the Cold War when the stakes were global and civilizational. Moscow’s brutal attack on Ukraine is a moral outrage but does not pose the same level of threat as the Soviet Union. There is no excuse for risking their societies and the planet’s survival today…
Finally, Washington should prepare for the endgame. The world is headed toward another Cold War, with a new Iron Curtain likely to rise wherever the reach of Russian troops ends.
Facing domestic unhappiness over the human cost of the war, deceptive cover-up, and impact of Western sanctions, the Putin regime likely will become even more repressive. Observers indicate that the situation already approaches martial law. Moreover, diplomatic retreats, economic penalties, and cultural bans have dramatically deepened Russia’s isolation. Some countries would make the West’s economic war essentially permanent. Opined Poland’s ambassador to the US, Marek Magierowski: “We have to be ready and determined to uphold the sanctions. Perhaps even for a decade or for 15 years or for 20 years, in order to see the real effects.”
Although Russia is a much-reduced version of the Soviet Union, significant dangers would remain. It likely would respond to a new Cold War by reinforcing its military. Most notably, what has been largely a political struggle would turn into an enduring military confrontation.
If so, Russia might become something akin to a giant North Korea, only better developed and with many more nuclear weapons. With less at stake in the international system and greater resentment toward adversaries turned enemies, Moscow would be more dangerous than today. Frontline European states would be even more insistent on American military protection. Violent competition would intensify in battleground areas elsewhere, such as Syria and Africa…(continues)