Not Your Grandfather’s Cold War

Russia and China are becoming increasingly forceful toward neighboring states and developing, enlarging, and modernizing their nuclear arsenal, said US Strategic Command Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. James Kowalski during an AFA- and industry-sponsored speech on Capitol Hill on June 16. “We have to recognize that there are two authoritarian, nuclear-armed regimes dominating the Eurasian landmass,” Kowalski said. Both “are using or threating to use a broad spectrum of force against their neighbors … and some of those neighbors are our allies,” he added. Facing multiple nuclear-armed potential adversaries, more advanced conventional threats, and threats to the newer space and cyberspace domains, deterrence today is much more complex. “We must also contend with numerous, regional flash-points that not only challenge international standards, but could directly involve our allies. This environment is ripe for miscalculation,” Kowalski stressed. Russia’s treaty-violating, medium-range nuclear weapons threaten European stability, and the intensifying effects of conflict in space and cyberspace are poorly understood. “The effects of the decision to use force in space or cyberspace could rapidly escalate a conflict,” and Russian military officials “openly maintain that they possess anti-satellite weapons,” he added. All these things combined “puts strategic stability at risk,” Kowalski said.