Convinced of its invincibility, even as partisan politics threatens to topple Washington, US policymakers remained strangely oblivious to the dangers of a resurgent Russia-China alliance. Although it may be too early to call ‘check mate’ on the US just yet, the nuclear superpower finds itself increasingly restrained.
Although it is easily forgotten in these clinically insane ‘Times of Trump,’ the root cause of our new geopolitical realities extends back long before a billionaire developer had acquired the best real estate on Pennsylvania Avenue.
As early as December 2001, when George W. Bush stunned the world by announcing he would abandon the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, thereby paving the way for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, Moscow was under no illusions as to Washington’s ulterior motives. Despite ridiculous excuses that the system was designed to protect the continent from rogue terrorist strikes or Iranian missiles, nobody in Moscow was fooled by the ruse.
Thus, by the time the Obama administration had plunked down a missile defense system in Romania in 2016, Russia was already hard at work developing an effective response to the five-alarm threat smack on its border.
Vladimir Putin in his wildest dreams could not have been handed a greater gift by Trump?? https://t.co/KaKQQb6TV1
— Fernand R. Amandi (@AmandiOnAir) 7 октября 2019 г.
What the United States chose to do next, from a strictly tactical perspective, made no sense. Knowing that Russia was now a de facto enemy due to America’s unmistakable intentions, Washington opted to open a second front, so to speak, this time on the Chinese border.
In October 2011, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, penned an article in Foreign Policy entitled, ‘America’s Pacific Century,’ another one of those delightfully deranged works of political fantasy that attempts to write history before it has actually happened.
Among the many multifaceted plans for China’s near abroad, Clinton mentioned “forging a broad-based military presence; and advancing democracy and human rights.” Needless to say, Clinton telegraphing the Obama administration’s overtly hostile intentions made China’s elite sit up, take notice and then put the ‘sleeping lion,’ as Napoleon dubbed the nation of 1.4 billion inhabitants, hard at work to neutralize the coming American armada.
Fast forward eight tumultuous years, and Foreign Policy is whistling a dramatically different tune. No longer is China portrayed as part of the US military’s all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, where Washington can pick and choose its targets without fear of retribution. Today, not only has China emerged as a global powerhouse in its own right, but it has nurtured a formidable relationship with Putin’s Russia.
This month the journal featured a much less bombastic story, this one on China-Russia reunification, entitled, ‘Xi Jinping Has Embraced Vladimir Putin—for Now.’
“Moscow is back in the picture, once again officially deemed to be Beijing’s best comrade-in-arms, in a throwback to the earliest years of the People’s Republic of China,” Melinda Liu wrote. “Despite the cutting-edge new military hardware on display in Beijing on Oct. 1—from stealth drones to DF-41 nuclear missiles capable of hitting US cities—Xi has turned to a familiar old neighbor to help watch his back.”
— fredafunfun (@Freda_ff) 3 сентября 2015 г.
Washington has greeted the news like Rumpelstiltskin awakening from a century’s long doze. Earlier this year, then-US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats broke the news to a stoney-faced Senate that, “China and Russia are more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s.”
As if to confirm Washington’s worst fear, Xi formally upgraded the relationship during a state visit to Moscow in June, where he met Vladimir Putin for the 26th time in just over six years. “Russia is the country that I have visited the most times, and President Putin is my best friend and colleague,” the Chinese leader pronounced.
And it’s not just hearty toasts and photo opportunities that define the new Putin-Xi bromance; it’s a real boots on the ground relationship.
In September 2018, Moscow and Beijing held their largest joint military exercises to date, with 3,000 Chinese troops on Russian soil for the war games. One year later, Moscow signaled its willingness to assist China in building a missile warning system, state-of-the-art technology that currently only the US and Russia possesses.
And then there’s the economic front, which was blown wide open ever since Trump started his trade war with China. Bilateral trade between Russia and China is rapidly approaching $200 billion annually as the neighboring countries signed a multi-billion deal in June covering everything from nuclear power, natural gas and, automobiles, to e-commerce and 5G communications. At the same time, Putin confirmed that China was ready to buy as much soybeans from Russia as it can produce.
In other words, the writing is on the wall. Moscow and Beijing have turbocharged their relations, and the self-serving Democrats, together with Trump’s nationalistic agenda, have nobody to blame but themselves.
— #AceNewsReport (@AceDailyNews) 28 сентября 2019 г.
There was no need for Barack Obama to infuriate Moscow by extending to Russia the promise of bilateral cooperation on the missile defense system, only to withdraw the offer, opting to build the geopolitically destabilizing system unilaterally. The Washington policymakers seemed to believe that it had really hoodwinked Russia, and that Moscow would have no way to respond accordingly.
The folly of that self-delusion was made apparent early last year when Putin unveiled a number of advanced weapons systems, including a nuclear-powered cruise missile with almost unlimited range, as well as a hypersonic weapons system that can reach a speed of Mach-10.
Future historians, should we be lucky enough to have a need for them, will be forced to consider why the world’s two nuclear superpowers could not forge a working partnership following the collapse of the Soviet Union, which marked the end of the Cold War.
Much of the answer will have to take into consideration America’s political meltdown ever since Donald Trump won the White House, dealing a potentially fatal blow to the Deep State.
The Democrats, in an effort to ruin Trump, peddled for three long years the conspiracy theory of Russian collusion. Although the Democrats failed to destroy Trump with the ploy, it did succeed in inflicting a mortal wound on US-Russia relations. Today, even though Trump has been largely vindicated from colluding with the Kremlin to win the White House, he still seems determined to prove his independence, provoking Moscow with sanctions as well as militarizing Europe’s border with Russia. Perhaps Trump would have acted exactly the same without ‘Russiagate’ hounding him, but judging by his remarks on the campaign trail about the importance of befriending Russia, it would seem the Democrats gave him little choice in the matter.
Meanwhile, to further complicate America’s geopolitical picture, Trump gained the Oval Office with bright promises to ‘Make America Great Again.’ And as we have seen of late with the raging trade wars, the Trump administration believes that is only possible by taming the economic powerhouse known as China, punishing it with brutal tariffs. Naturally, Beijing responds in kind as the global economy swoons.
Amid this sea of unpredictability there is one rock of stability and that is an emerging Russia-China partnership, which is now capable of severely restraining America’s global ambitions. Whether that will make the world a safer place remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: the United States will never stop pursuing its singular ambition of a ‘New World Order,’ which it believes will be governed from a very ‘exceptional’ place known as Washington, D.C. Hopefully Moscow and Beijing will continue to be in the position to remind the US that the world was never intended to have just one master.
By Robert Bridge
Source: Strategic Culture