What is the key difference between a "hot" war and a "cold" war?

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Jul 2, 2016


It is not a matter of Latitude ...


... Though you might think so.
Todays "hot wars" are being fought in desert areas such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya... where temperatures run very high. A present day "cold war" is under constant surveillance among the snowy peaks of Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

But, as I said here above, climatic conditions have nothing to do with the issue.

A hot war is fought with conventional or unconventional means (these being stone and clubs or nuclear weapons). You have two armies or bands of people getting at each other's throat and slaughtering as many foes as they possibly can.

A cold war is a war of worlds, of political tension, of means and posturing. You never get down to the battle field, but you make sure your opponent knows that, if you did, he will inevitably lose the day.

A "cold war" is a war of deterrents; a war of "second strikes" (think of what will happen to you if you dare to attack me first ).

In a hot war you hide your power to make the best of the surprise element; you hit were and when you are not expected.
In a "cold war" you publish your armament level, you document it and announce your targets.

Today the most dangerous "cold war" theatre is possibly the South China Sea (formerly known as the Yellow Sea) where four or five nations are disputing dominance on a large swath of the Indian Ocean. These are China, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malesia
In some cases cold war posturing may burst into local, limited action (the downing of a scout plane or the boarding by the coast guard of an opponent's fishing vessel) seldom however you have serious consequences and things end up with some sort of an agreement or a treaty among the parties.

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