People, like generals, are always fretting about the last war. That may be why we naturally buy into the notion that the growing rivalry between the United States and China amounts to Cold War 2.0. The reality today, I would argue, is that things have been completely inverted from the state of the original Cold War. It’s actually the anti-cold war, or the opposite of a cold war. By this I mean the following. The fight between two of the world’s largest economies and most powerful countries today is a classic great power struggle between two states. If there are real ideological struggles, it’s not between China and the West or the US, but within their own societies. State capitalism fighting to the death with free-market capitalism somehow just doesn’t have the same ring to the epic struggle between capitalism and communism. If there is no real confrontation between two world systems or grand ideologies, there are also no two blocs armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons pointed at each other. Countries that distrust China don’t necessarily want to join the US in a fight where they have nothing to gain and much to lose. The real ideological conflicts are domestic – in the US, in China, and across Europe. As former Australian diplomat Bobo Lo wrote in an incisive paper titled “Global Order in the Shadow of the Coronavirus: China, Russia, and the West”, “the principal threat lies closer to home” because governments have failed to live up to the values and decencies that they have promised their citizens living under Western liberal democracy. Instead, they blame Russia and China as “threats” to their values. Why fears of communism, anti-China sentiment are a potent mix in Indonesia Their systemic failure, Lo wrote, has been “compounded by inept policymaking and internal divisions”. As a result, polarisation has become characteristic of domestic politics in the US under the presidency of Donald Trump, in Britain with Brexit and within the European Union with the rise of anti-immigrant right-wing politics. China has many similar domestic problems, too. Hong Kong, for example, is the source of the most serious polarisation within China today. But getting tough on China and even forcing it to retreat in every field of confrontation will not improve the domestic conditions of citizens in the West, even if turning China into the bogeyman has distracted their attention to the real source of their societies’ ills. Here’s my suggestion: why don’t we all instead focus on addressing our own internal problems?