A whole empire of ideological understanding was built around the interpretive concept of the Cold War, and containment of the communist global threat to world peace as known in the Western democracies. How does that whole package of thought translate to concerns for a return to the Cold War even to this day?
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In many ways, the mindset of the Cold War does not really apply to our current situation. Much of our attention today is focused on the War on Terror, which is not really a situation that lends itself to containment-style thinking. However, it is possible to argue that the ideas of containment do apply to our approach to the perceived threat from China today.
In the Cold War, we focused strongly on containing communism. We saw any advances by the Soviet Union as threats to our peace and our strength. Therefore, we were willing to resist essentially any communist expansion of any sort.
Today, it is possible to argue that we have a similar attitude towards China. This time, the attitude is not based on ideology, but it is (arguably) a similar attitude. Some Americans see China as a rising threat to become a rival superpower. Therefore, we focus to some degree on containing China. Our recent “pivot” towards Asia can be seen in this way. We are focusing on trying to prevent China from spreading its influence through Southeast Asia and beyond. We feel that it is important to maintain and expand our own influence in that reason so as to contain China.
In these ways, we can say that a Cold War ideology continues to inform our attitudes towards China.
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