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Editorial: 30 yrs after conclusion of Cold War, stable world order must be rebuilt

  • December 3, 2019
  • , The Japan News , 7:24 p.m.
  • English Press

Freedom and democracy in the United States and Europe, which exulted in the triumph of their values 30 years ago, are facing a time of trial, confronted with challenges from China and Russia. It is necessary to prevent the development of a new Cold War and rebuild a stable world order.


Dec. 3 marks the passage of 30 years since the U.S. and Soviet leaders held talks in Malta in the Mediterranean Sea, where they declared an end to the Cold War.


The Communist bloc collapsed due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and democratization in East European countries. This aroused the belief that the values and prosperity of the Western bloc would spread, but the exaltation of those days is nowhere to be seen now.


The United States as a nation that possesses overwhelming military and economic power, leading the stability and growth of the world as the sole superpower — the disruption of this structure can be described as a factor behind the present circumstances.


Ethnic and religious conflicts were prevented from breaking out under the Cold War, but such strife erupted after its end, with multiple terrorist attacks on the United States perpetrated by an international terrorist organization. The United States waged war against terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, forcing it to make enormous war expenditures and pay a heavy human toll.

A feeling of war-weariness has spread in the United States, as more Americans are skeptical about their country playing the role of “global policeman.” It does not look like this introverted tendency will go away even if U.S. President Donald Trump, an advocate of an America-first policy, is replaced.


U.S. allies, such as Japan and European nations, need to appropriately respond to the decline in U.S. strength. They must fulfill a responsibility commensurate with their positions, if the burden on the United States is too heavy in some respects.


Since the end of the Cold War, China has achieved high economic growth by taking advantage of economic globalization. The administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping is seeking to turn his country into a major power that can rival the United States. There are many problems with his rule and growth model.


The Chinese government’s preferential treatment of state-owned enterprises has distorted market fairness. China’s opaque military buildup and maritime advances pose a threat to neighboring countries. The “China model” of watching and controling its people has started spreading across Asia and Africa.


The Trump administration regards China as one of the forces attempting to “change the status quo.” This seems to illustrate his sense of urgency about the situation in which a nation whose values are contrary to those of the United States will infringe on the rights and interests of his country.


The current situation — in which the United States and China are at odds in a wide range of areas from trade and security to human-rights issues — is called the “New Cold War.” It is vital for the two nations’ leaders to realize the countries’ responsibilities as great powers while also striving to avert a military clash and promote the building of trust.


Another issue in this respect is how to deal with Russia. The administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened the security of Eastern Europe through such actions as Russia’s annexation of Crimea in Ukraine, and this has put Russia at odds with the United States. The U.S.-Russia framework for nuclear disarmament, carried on from the Cold-War era, is in danger of collapsing now.


To stabilize the situation, it is important to bring China into the U.S.-Russia framework for arms reduction and rebuild it. Japan, European countries and other relevant nations must urge the United States, China and Russia to make efforts to achieve that objective.

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