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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 4/4/22

The Late-Deceased Paradigm on Russia/China

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China? Russia? No clue but it sure looks cold!
China? Russia? No clue but it sure looks cold!
(Image by codepo8 from flickr)
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The sooner the geniuses of the Washington Swamp get it through their ivy-mantled brains that driving a wedge between Russia and China is not going to happen, the better the chances the world can survive the fallout (figurative and literal) from the war in Ukraine.

Today's Swamp geniuses read their textbooks about how Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger were adroit in taking advantage of the seething hostility between Russia and China a half-century ago. They leveraged that mutual loathing, and the fear that their rival might draw the U.S. onto its side, into a triangular paradigm that brought tangible benefits to the world. It was a balance of terror. But it was an insurable ("trust but verify"), strategic balance.

One benefit facilitated by the Nixon/Kissinger policies toward China and Russia was the 1972 U.S.-Soviet Anti-Ballistic-Missile (ABM) Treaty of 1972, which remained the cornerstone of strategic stability for three decades until Bush junior quit the treaty. Amb. Chas Freeman (from the Chinese side) and I (from the Soviet side) were deeply involved in all this.

When less ideological, more enlightened leaders emerged in Beijing and Moscow, they began to recognize how mutually debilitating their rivalry was, and the hostility started to wane. Nevertheless, little did we imagine that as soon as October 2004 Russian President Putin would visit Beijing to finalize an agreement on border issues. Putin also signed an agreement to jointly develop Russian energy reserves and crowed that relations had reached "unparalleled heights."

That's right; 2004. Putin's strong initiative to cultivate close ties with China is hardly new. Years later, it has paid off handsomely and has been facilitated by the inept "diplomacy" of the rising Juniors that President Biden has working for him.

The Antony Blinkens and Jake Sullivans of this world - out off a mix of arrogance and ignorance - have greased the skids for the Russia-Chinese united front the US now faces on the explosive situation in Ukraine. Wet-behind-the-ears though they were, I was still amazed to see this dynamic duo talk down to their Chinese counterparts a year ago in Anchorage and then brief Biden on how Russia had a huge problem with China.

After the Biden-Putin summit in Geneva on June 16, Biden's team could not hustle him onto the plane before he gave the media these bon mots:

Without quoting him [Putin] - which I don't think is appropriate - let me ask a rhetorical question: You got a multi-thousand-mile border with China. China is "seeking to be the most powerful economy in the world and the largest and the most powerful military in the world. Let me choose my words. Russia is in a very, very difficult spot right now. They are being squeezed by China."

At Putin's post-summit presser he was asked if he had reached "a new level of trust with the US president". Putin quoted Leo Tolstoy in response:

"Tolstoy once said, there is no happiness in life, only lightening flashes (Ð Ð degrees' Ð Ð '"'") of it - cherish them. I believe that in this situation some kind of family trust is not possible. However, it seems to me we have seen "lightening flashes" ("Ð Ð degrees' Ð Ð '"'"" Ð ' Ð Ð Ð Ð ''Ð Ð ''Ð Ð ) of it."

Putin and Xi Try Giving Biden a Tutorial

In the wake of the June summit, the presidents of Russia and China spared no effort to demonstrate that their strategic relationship "in its closeness and effectiveness, exceeds an alliance." See, for example, the video they released of the first minute of their virtual summit on Dec. 15. They were at pains to demonstrate that the triangular relationship has become isoscolese, with the US on the short end - in effect, two-against-one. As if to make things even clearer, Dec. 15 was also the day Moscow chose to give the US a draft treaty embracing Moscow's far-reaching proposals for European security.

In the weeks that followed, the Biden administration reacted more positively than I had expected - both in its alacrity in moving so rapidly to begin negotiations (as Moscow had pretty much demanded) and in its willingness to discuss reinstating key provisions of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty abandoned by President Trump in 2019.

Taking into account Putin's many warnings that the deployment of missile-sites in Romania and Poland could threaten Russia's ICBM force, I thought he might take "half a loaf," especially since it had become clear that Ukraine was not destined for NATO membership anytime soon). In short, I thought Putin would see some of Tolstoy's "flashes of light" toward resolving at least some of his security concerns.

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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)
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