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Home » Cold War II: Niall Ferguson on The Emerging Conflict With China (Transcript)

Cold War II: Niall Ferguson on The Emerging Conflict With China (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Niall Ferguson’s discussion titled “Cold War II: The Emerging Conflict With China” at Hoover Institution.


PETER ROBINSON: Just how serious is the emerging conflict with China? It has already turned into Cold War II. Historian Niall Ferguson on Uncommon Knowledge now.

Welcome to Uncommon Knowledge, I’m Peter Robinson. A fellow at the Hoover Institution, Niall Ferguson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Oxford. Before coming here to Stanford, he held posts at Oxford, Cambridge, New York University, Harvard, and the London School of Economics.

Dr. Ferguson is the author of more than a dozen major works of history, including The Pity of War: Explaining World War I, The Ascent of Money, Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World, and, we come now to today’s topic, Kissinger: The Idealist, the first volume of his two-volume biography of Henry Kissinger, one of the most important figures of the first long Cold War. Dr. Ferguson is now completing his second volume of the two-volume biography of Henry Kissinger. Completing it, yes, Neil?

NIALL FERGUSON: Yes, that’s the plan.

PETER ROBINSON:Got it. All right. Niall Ferguson in National Review. There was a first World War, then there was a second. They were not identical, but they were sufficiently similar for no one to argue about the nomenclature. Similarly, there was Cold War I, and now we are in Cold War II.

Is Cold War II worse than the first?

All right, here’s what I take the term Cold War to mean. The conflict with China will last two or three generations, generational conflict. We’ll find ourselves living under nuclear threat again, and the very existence of our civilization is at stake. Am I being melodramatic, or is that a fair summary of what Cold War is?

NIALL FERGUSON: Oh, it’s much worse than that, because you’re assuming that it’s going to be very protracted. Cold War I was really a four-decade affair. It ended, actually, rather sooner than most experts anticipated. But there’s no guarantee that Cold War II will last as long, because China is a far more formidable adversary than the Soviet Union was.

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