Mutually Beneficial Terror: A New Cold War is Brewing
A New Cold War is great for business and great for the powerful. But we can learn from the past and build a better future.
There it was. Floating tens of thousands of feet in the air. A simple and intentionally conspicuous spy balloon. Drifting across the continental United States.
In a culture starving for constant content, and more specifically content focused on terror and provoking the anxiety necessary to drive clicks, retweets, and ratings, the Chinese spy balloon fiasco was exactly the kind of story people dream of.
It’s a perfect storm. An international rival. Villainous spying. An object any red-blooded American in its path could stand outside and gaze upon with the naked eye. A strange and somewhat bewildering event that feels both inexplicable and easily understandable all at once.
So, let’s discuss what this is, what is happening, and, more specifically, what this event tells us about coming days.
Already the breathless speculation is never ending.
Is it about to drop an electromagnetic pulse?
Is it a precursor to an invasion of the U.S. homeland?
The discourse…is not great.
It’s everything we should expect from this moment and this situation. Our politically and socially fractured country is absolutely primed to lose its collective mind as we sprint headfirst into a new cold war. In fact, it’s so predictable that the smartest thing China could do is just keep sending these things our way, equipment or no equipment, just to watch us tear out our hair and gnash our teeth.
Undoubtedly this is an intelligence gathering operation, specifically focused at American nuclear weaponry and possibly updating information using newly innovated techniques and technology. Which is something the United States does to everyone. Constantly. It’s a large doese of American Exceptionalism to huff and puff and complain that we somehow shouldn’t expect others to do the same.
But it is also a thumb in the eye. A provocation that was absolutely intended to get our attention. It’s of note that this is taking place not long after Air Force general Mike Minihan tracked down every major media outlet to scream his conviction that we’d be in an outright war with China by 2025.
Minihan’s unhinged rant is the kind of stuff we’ve seen before. The First Cold War with Russia was punctuated with hardlining generals just openly champing at the bit for nuclear war, and this new age of social media and globalization is going to be more of the same with rippling consequences. And, quite frankly, this balloon incident is also more of the same. These rivalries depend on provocations and moments, times where countres tiptoe up to the line with gambits and game-theory driven moves designed to test their opponent’s resolve and find hidden opportunities.
That, of course, is state-level business. So. What about us? What will all of this mean for the people on the ground, for the people of the world?