The End of the New Cold War


It is difficult to estimate how traumatised people raised in the late 20th century were by the idea of global thermonuclear war. Bunkers in every backyard, school drills to hide under the desk, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and so on. There are missiles that can be launched within 2 minutes and arrive at their target within 10 minutes. The whole world could be ended with the push of a button and you wouldn’t even have time to get to safety. About 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons are held in Russia and the United States, after them is France. Something like 16,000 nuclear weapons exist around the world, ready to ignite entire cities with a heat greater than the temperature of the sun. The aftermath of a nuclear exchange would essentially cause another Ice Age. Although the Cold War is supposed to have ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, its military hardware remained and has been an ever-present threat ever since.

All of this was thrust onto the ordinary citizens of the world, as if knowing about it could somehow change their fates. Even with collective, global action, there is essentially nothing everyday folks could do to dismantle these weapons systems. Perhaps on balance it was the most moral thing to do to tell everyone about the threat, or maybe it was simply unavoidable. Given the tension still present today between current multipolar nuclear powers, governments are not going to voluntarily dismantle these arsenals, and so we are all stuck with the sword of Damocles hanging over our heads seemingly forever. Or are we?

South Africa dismantled their nuclear weapons program after the end of the Apartheid government. Why would they have done this? Was it a goodwill gesture to the rest of the world? There is an explanation which implies the new “rainbow nation” dismantled its weapons of mass destruction as penance for the previous administration, an act to prove it was worthy of joining the global community. The official explanation is fear of the weapons falling into the hands of communists. That said, it seems more likely that the Brits and Boers there knew what might be the outcome of these weapons of the gods falling into the hands of impulsive, unsophisticated warlord types. Had they not done this, there is little doubt in my mind that their weapons would have been used on some unfortunate neighbour.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but diversity dismantled the South African nuclear arsenal. Could it do the same in the Western world?

The US military is rapidly diversifying, simply because it offers one of the few ways to get a leg up in America. By enlisting you get a whole host of social and economic benefits. Frontline troops largely reflect the original ethnic makeup of the country, while the rapidly growing administrative sections have a lot more recent arrivals. It’s these recent arrivals that will be trying to navigate orders in the middle of a nuclear escalation – India recently misfired a missile into Pakistan, just a whoopsie and it’s been largely covered over now, but such things do not happen in high IQ, high trust societies. If the IQ and trust levels of the US missile command both lower as a result of diversity, one of the largest nuclear arsenals on Earth will be rendered useless – incapable of rapid and effective retaliation, incapable of basic maintenance (the US military has already lost critical knowledge of how to produce military hardware), and the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction is ended.

Eventually, as knowledge is lost from the US military and the nuclear arsenal ages out of usefulness, nuclear warfare will simply be a scary story told similarly to the Mahabharata. Countries like Russia and China will likely keep their weapons, and if they stay on good terms with each other we can all hope that some disarmament occurs, or perhaps the weapons are repurposed to take down any approaching stellar objects.

We just have to get through this late-stage period where the expertise to launch these things is still there, but the temperament to hold back is decaying. It will be an interesting and dangerous time to live through. There will be another Cold War, it will have threats of Mutually Assured Destruction, and it’s probably already underway.

Originally published at Mike Rusade’s Micro Crusade.

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