Memories of the 60s have come flooding back as the US and China face off on tariffs, but a cool-headed White House could stop the dispute heating up
During the cold war, the US and the Soviet Union had the potential to obliterate each other with their nuclear arsenals. Both sides knew a conflict was unwinnable, and that explained why the missiles remained in their silos. It was known as mutually assured destruction.
The closest the world came to MAD was the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, which ended with the Kremlin backing down over its decision to base nuclear weapons 90 miles from the Florida coast.
More than half a century later, memories of the cold war have come flooding back as the US and China lock horns over trade. Financial markets have gyrated as Washington and Beijing display their protectionist hardware. The rhetoric has become increasingly bellicose. Khrushchev and Kennedy were playing for much higher stakes, but the principle is the same: the missile-laden ships are getting ever closer to the shore.
Serious trade trouble between the US and China has been in the offing ever since Donald Trump won the presidential election in 2016. In that year, America ran a trade deficit of about $30bn a month with China, but Trump said it was only that big because Beijing was playing dirty.