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A new Cold War is not needed

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In a sign that the Donald Trump administration is hellbent on reviving the Cold War, the US Navy held a ceremony at Norfolk in Virginia on Friday for the re-establishment of its US Second Fleet which will be responsible for naval forces along the East Coast and in the northern Atlantic Ocean.

The fleet was created in the 1950s primarily to counter the former Soviet Union’s military activities on the Atlantic Rim, before it was disbanded in 2011 as part of the Pentagon’s cost-saving plan. The decision to resurrect the outdated structures of the Cold War will only exacerbate tensions with Russia.

The move cannot but make people wonder why the United States is so intent on reviving the great power rivalry that kept the world on the brink of nuclear Armageddon for so long. Does Russia really pose a bigger threat to US citizens than terrorist groups such as al-Qaida?

The US National Defense Strategy labels Russia and China as “revisionist powers” that pose “growing threats” to the US. Yet it is the opposite that is true.

To deal with the imagined threats from Beijing and Moscow, the Trump administration has been adopting an increasingly aggressive defense strategy, with the US president recently announcing a plan to build a “space force” to ensure US dominance in that domain. He has also said he wants a 10-fold increase in the US nuclear arsenal.

The hawkish makeup of the Trump administration and the personality of the US president, who has an unhealthy fascination with the military, combined with his casual remarks about using nuclear weapons, make the prospect of a return to the high-stakes brinkmanship and proxy wars of the Cold War increasingly likely.

Is it profits, status or simply petrified beliefs that motivate the US administration to keep generating an atmosphere of war? If it is in pursuit of an arms race that it hopes will bring its ”rivals” to their knees under the unbearable weight of defense budgets, then it should bear in mind the cost to itself. Many in the US already worry its military spending is putting the nation on a path to fiscal ruin.

The Cold War, which also bred many hot wars, should be consigned to the history books where it belongs. Instead of looking fearfully backward to the past, Washington should look boldly forward to the future and seek to build a new type of relations with Russia and China.

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