Charlie Gstalder is a first-year English major. He is a guest writer for the Newswire from Westchester, New York.
I’m a pacifist. But I also think we need to have another Cold War. The 1950s-90s are already coming back into style: Bellbottoms are hip again, fascist ideology is on the rise and Russia, America, and other nations, are accelerating their nuclear programs.
Seriously though, Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have spent the last two years escalating nuclear threats. In August, an accident at an off-shore Russian facility killed the nation’s five leading nuclear scientists. Experts believe they were working to either develop a nuclear reactor for military purposes or attempting to create a nuclear-powered missile — effectively a doomsday device.
Following the breakdown of the Iran nuclear deal, Tehran has threatened rearmament if economic sanctions are not lifted. Last month, India claimed Kashmir, a disputed territory shared with Pakistan, as its own. In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, explained that if the world does not intervene, two nuclear armed nations would move closer towards confrontation. With each passing day, the threat of a nuclear catastrophe rises around the globe.
Our world has not been at such a risk since the events of the mid to late 20th century when launch codes were lauded and children hid under desks. So why am I arguing to return to such a tumultuous and terrifying era? Because I love peace and I love science.
I am part of a generation that was born in the months surrounding the attacks of 9/11 and the ensuing global conflict. Eighteen years without a day of peace effectively gives you a hot-zone spidey-sense, and with the current trajectory of our geopolitical relations, I view conflict as inevitable.
Thus, I have moved from a stance of calling for peace to a stance of damage control. Statistically, the Cold War era had the lowest number of military casualties out of any era. The very definition of a Cold War refers to all parties stuck in a stalemate, too terrified to attack. Think about it, would that not be the best path forwards? If war truly is inevitable, why not engage in the type of war that would result in the least damage and loss of life? Why not engage in the type of war that stands most similar to times of peace?
Some may argue that the casualties of the Cold War were mental, not physical, as generations grew up anxiously fearing for their lives. To this I offer a reminder: My generation has the highest reported rates of stress and mental illness in the entire nation. According to the American Psychological Association, Generation Z-ers are the most likely to have reported negative effects of stress, treatment of mental illness and overall poor mental health. Simply put, we already live every day of our lives scared. How much could a little more worry hurt?
Second, and perhaps more importantly, I stand in favor of another Cold War because of science. Last month was the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, arguably the single greatest scientific accomplishment in American history. The Space Race, and subsequent moon landing, were tied directly to our participation in the Cold War. Unable to show military superiority, we turned to proving scientific superiority. This led to an era in which scientific advancement not only had proper funding, but in which scientists were viewed as heroes and celebrities. The Cold War turned science fiction into science fact; just imagine how many advancements we would be able to make if the scientific community had proper funding. We could cure cancer, 3-D print human organs, re-animate dead brain cells or eradicate HIV if the goal was to do it before another country. I have no hope that our government would ever keep science so properly funded if there were not a military or competitive reason to do so. Thus, a new Cold War appears to be the only viable solution.
Of course I don’t actually want a Cold War, I don’t want any war. But if there is no path towards peace, cold wars are better than hot blooded ones.