April 18, 2014
Cold War 2: Could Economic Warfare Be As Bad As Russia's Nuclear Weapons Or An EMP Attack?

Cold War 2 may be inevitable even if World War 3 is not around the corner. But could a new Cold War be as damaging to the United States as an EMP attack or Russia's nuclear weapons?

In a related report by The Inquisitr, some journalists have already declared that World War 3 started yesterday based upon the fact that pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine began openly fighting with the Ukrainian military. Although Moscow denies it, these forces were armed with Russian weapons and uniforms, and some fear that Putin will use the civil war as an excuse to invade as part of a "peacekeeping" operation.

If events continue to escalate, some fear nuclear weapons could be threatened. Putin already ordered a nuclear weapons ICBM test in response to Obama speaking publicly against Russia. Moscow's state TV also claimed that their nuclear weapons could reduce the United States to "radioactive ash." There's also the worry that even if nuclear weapons are not used then a new type of WMD, an Electro-Magnetic Pulse bomb, could wipe out our defenses:

"EMP is triggered by the detonation of a nuclear weapon at a high altitude over the earth. As a result of this detonation, an electromagnetic field radiates down to the earth, creating electrical currents. These fields cause widespread damage to electrical systems — the lifeblood of a modern society like the U.S. In turn, the damaged electronic systems can cause a cascade of failures throughout the broader infrastructure, including banking systems, energy systems, transportation systems, food production and delivery systems, water systems, emergency services, and — perhaps most damaging — cyberspace. Effectively, the U.S. would be thrown back to the pre-industrial age following a widespread EMP attack."
Still, many experts believe the Ukraine crisis will never lead to the usage of nuclear weapons despite the rhetoric of Russia and Putin At the same time, it was Russian technology and support that allowed the situations in Syria, Iran, and Iraq to grow to the point where open conflict became unavoidable. Putin has played his cards wisely and has attempted to put Russia on a high moral ground with the brewing situation. Any Russian invasion will be for the purported purpose of "peacekeeping" the safety of Russian-speaking Ukrainian citizens even if Moscow had the separatists fighters armed to begin with.

Nicholas Burns is a former ambassador with years of experience and he believes we may be watching the beginning of Cold War 2:

"President Putin has used brute force to take over a piece of territory that wasn't his. And he's drawn new lines in Europe, so it feels a little bit like the Cold War that I remember back in the 1970s and 1980s."
Burns also made a comparison between Putin's actions and Hitler:
"How can you trust a leader now, like Vladimir Putin, who invades another country and then formally annexes it? We haven't seen this kind of blatant, brazen behavior since the 1930s in Europe."
After so many years of Americans watching their guys sent off to foreign wars, many in the United States have begun to feel that isolationism is the best policy. Burns rejects that argument, saying world is "highly integrated, it requires a forward presence outside the United States of many of our troops to hopefully not to fight…but to safeguard peace. Our economy is all tied up in the economies of Europe and Asia."

And that's how Cold War 2 would be different from the original. Russia's nuclear weapons against the United States is what triggered the original Cold War, but now we have a new electronic battlefield in which nations can attempt to ruin each other. For example, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States "will not hesitate to use 21st century tools to hold Russia accountable for 19th century behavior." But could Obama's economic warfare lead to a new war that's potentially almost as devastating as World War 3?

Russia is not exactly defenseless and can fight back with their own forms of economic warfare. If the US does something more extreme, like freezing Putin's assets or Russian state assets, they will strike back. They can refuse to pay debts owed to the United States, they can freeze US assets, and they could even unleash their hackers to take down the New York Stock Exchange. Worse, in recent years China and Russia have already made economic and trade agreements that are attempting to remove the US dollar as the world's currency. So, if anything, they already have a head start on any economic war.

The United States also happens to be in a precarious financial state at the moment. Our gross public debt as a percentage of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is 106 percent. Economists have theorized that any country which reaches this threshold may eventually face severe repercussions. For example, European countries requiring bailout help were as follows: Greece, 158 percent; Ireland, 117 percent; and Italy, 127 percent. Critics point out that the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that the debt to GDP ratio of all its member countries combined will be 112.5 percent in 2014. They also highlight Japan, which has the world's highest debt to GDP ratio at 246 percent, yet doesn't need a bailout.

Still, even if you ignore the threat of a Cold War 2 or World War 3, the US national debt is at $17.6 trillion and is facing a financial crisis from within. The Social Security Administration already admits its running out of money for its disability fund in 2016. Experts have warned that if the US federal debt gets high enough the interest payments alone could outpace defense spending and require the US government to both decrease spending and increase taxes dramatically, which could trigger Great Depression 2. Russia, on the other hand, only as about $204 billion in debt, although China is a little over $5 trillion. The only good news is that if Cold War 2 involves economic warfare, then the United States is now the world's largest oil exporter due to the fracking of shale oil. Our oil reserves have not been this high since the 1970's, which would help during any long term financial war.

Do you think that Cold War 2 may be more likely than World War 3? How do you President Obama and the United States should respond to Russia's advance on Ukraine?