With most of the world’s advanced economies now stuck in recession; Western support for defense cuts and nuclear disarmament increasing; and a major emerging Asian power at odds with its neighbors and the United States; it is tempting to think our times are about to rhyme with a decade of similar woes—the disorderly 1930s. Might we again be drifting toward some new form of mortal national combat? Or, will our future more likely ape the near-half-century that defined the Cold War—a period in which tensions between competing states ebbed and flowed but peace mostly prevailed by dint of nuclear mutual fear and loathing? The short answer is, nobody knows. This much, however, is clear: The strategic military competitions of the next 2 decades will be unlike any the world has yet seen.
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