Second, the US appears to be seriously overestimating its power. Although the US is no longer the global hegemon, it continues to behave as if it is. Coercion and force seem to be Washington’s preferred option to address almost every challenge it confronts. Unless such belligerence is moderated, a great power conflict could erupt in Eastern Europe or the South China Sea; and the US could end up in shooting wars with North Korea and Iran. Some have even advocated US counterterrorist intervention in Pakistan without calculating the consequences.
Third, the potential for catastrophe has been magnified because, unlike the 1950s, now there are not two but nine nuclear weapon states. A conventional conflict in Korea or South Asia could rapidly escalate to the nuclear level.
Fourth, today’s conflicts are mostly ‘hybrid’ wars, encompassing special operations, sabotage and cyber warfare. As Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Syria, Libya and Yemen have illustrated, it is easy to start such ‘complex’ wars but extremely difficult to prevent their escalation and expansion.