The New New World Order

You might be interested in reading this fascinating analysis at Financial Times by Gideon Rachman on how Russia and China are positioning themselves and not merely positioning themselves but cooperating in bringing about a “new world order” to supplant the old “new world order” of a hegemonic and aggressive United States:

Two features of the current world order that the Russians and the Chinese frequently object to are “unipolarity” and “universality”. Put more simply, they believe that the current arrangements give America too much power — and they are determined to change that.

“Unipolarity” means that, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world was left with only one superpower — the US. Fyodor Lukyanov, a Russian foreign-policy thinker who is close to President Putin, believes that unipolarity “gave the United States the ability and possibility to do whatever it saw fit on the world stage”. He argues that the new age of American hegemony was ushered in by the Gulf war of 1991 — in which the US assembled a global coalition to drive Saddam Hussein’s Iraq out of Kuwait.

The Gulf war was followed by a succession of US-led military interventions around the world — including in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s. Nato’s bombing of Belgrade, Serbia’s capital, in 1999, has long formed part of Russia’s argument that Nato is not a purely defensive alliance. The fact that Nato bombs also struck the Chinese embassy in Belgrade has not been forgotten in Beijing.

After the 9/11 terror attacks on New York and Washington, Nato invoked Article 5 — its mutual-defence clause — and invaded Afghanistan. Once again, according to Lukyanov, America had demonstrated its willingness and ability to “forcefully transform the world”.

But America’s defeat in Afghanistan, symbolised by the chaotic withdrawal from Kabul in the summer of 2021, has given the Russians hope that the US-led world order is crumbling. Lukyanov argues that the fall of Kabul to the Taliban was “no less historical and symbolic than the fall of the Berlin Wall”.

Influential Chinese academics are thinking along similar lines. Yan Xuetong, dean of the school of international relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing (Xi’s alma mater), writes that “China believes that its rise to great-power status entitles it to a new role in world affairs — one that cannot be reconciled with unquestioned US dominance.”

The fly in this Sino-Russian ointment is that the interests of Russia and China are not aligned. Russia sees the emergence of a multi-polar world with spheres of influence; China on the other hand sees itself as supplanting the United States as global hegemon. There can be only one.

It should be obvious to anyone with a globe that while a Russia-Chinese alliance makes sense tactically it is senseless strategically. Further, although Russia seems to have entered a tenuous stability, there is every likelihood that China is at the peak of its power right now. Both countries may see benefit for themselves in expeditious action but Russia may well be more reluctant than China is likely to be.

Interesting times.

1 comment… add one
  • bob sykes Link

    The interests of Russia and China are not perfectly aligned, but they are close enough to form an effective military alliance, at least as effective as NATO.

    Moreover, I have to disagree, their long term strategic alignment is almost a necessity to them. The US and NATO are not going away regardless of what happens in Ukraine, and Russia and China will have to sustain their own alliance for decades to come, in order to contain the US/NATO.

    Russia is more stable today than at any time since Stalin’s death. Their economy, often derided as equal to Spain’s, is actually at least twice Germany’s and full one-half the US economy. Their real defense spending is 30% to 40% of ours. They have little debt (all internal), huge currency and gold reserves, and vast resources. Their population is loyal to Putin with hardly any disaffected minorities. They do not suffer the social and cultural collapse we are undergoing.

    China is nowhere near peak. While we are using 5G to entertain the masses, China is using 5G/AI to create a new industrial revolution that will make American and European manufacturing hopelessly obsolete and uncompetitive. You think China dominates the world economy now? Wait 10 years.

    Ten years from now, the China-Russia alliance will be the world hegemon, militarily, economically, and culturally. Assuming the US has not succumbed to civil war or permanent economic depression or crushed in a losing imperial war, we and are allies will be on the defensive and losing on all fronts.

    Basically, the Chinese and Russian citizens are just better people all around.

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