The West risks a nuclear conflict with China or Russia because of “a disruption of communication between them.” So says Sir Stephen Lovegrove, the United Kingdom’s national security adviser.
According to Lovegrove, more and more informal ways in which the world’s superpowers communicate with each other are disappearing, increasing the likelihood of an accidental escalation. “During the Cold War, the two big blocs — the Soviet Union and NATO — came to an understanding of each other’s doctrine, but that understanding is not there today,” he said during a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. DC. “It is unclear what they want today in Moscow and Beijing, let alone Pyongyang or Tehran.”
“During the Cold War, we had the advantage of negotiations and dialogue, which allowed us to understand better what the Soviets wanted and could do, and vice versa. Both blocks were sure enough that we didn’t accidentally end up in a nuclear war. But today, those foundations are not there with other countries that might threaten us in the future – especially China.”
Lovegrove strongly supports US President Joe Biden’s plan to resume talks with China. For example, he would call on Thursday for the first time since March with Chinese President Xi in an attempt to temper rising tensions over Taiwan.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Party leader in the US House of Representatives, is visiting Taiwan this week, much to Beijing’s anger. The Taiwanese army then started large army exercises, simulating a Chinese invasion of the island. China considers Taiwan a renegade province and is determined to recapture the country — by force if necessary.
The conflict in Ukraine also naturally contributes to global instability, Lovegrove said. “It has now been more than 150 days since Putin started his illegal war. I fear this conflict fits into a pattern where Russia is acting deliberately recklessly to undermine the international security order.”