John S. Van OudenarenGreat power conflict, Eurasia

The most dangerous threat to America "would be a grand coalition of China and Russia, united not by an ideology, but by a complementary grievance."

The US nightmare: the Sino-Russian agreement The growing cooperation between China and Russia represents a major strategic challenge for the United States. If nothing had been done, it could have profoundly negative consequences, warned Graham Allison and Dimitri Simes during a recent discussion at the Center for National Interest. . Both experts warned that Washington was committing a serious miscalculation by failing to make strategic adjustments to prevent the ever closer alignment of these two once-so-once-rival rivals. Allison, government professor Douglas Dillon at Harvard University, and Simes, president and CEO of the Center for the National Interest, have presented their cover stories for the current edition of National Interest magazine, entitled China and Russia: «New best friends?"Jacob Heilbrunn, editor of the magazine, moderated. Among the leading participants were academics from Russia and China, foreign diplomats including the Chinese ambassador and government officials. As Russia and China have become increasingly aligned in recent years, the United States has lost the advantageous position it has occupied in the second half of the year. cold war better relations with Moscow and Beijing, respectively, than they had between them. Allison recalled that shortly before his death in 2017, Zbigniew Brezinski, who worked closely with China to counter the Soviet Union during his tenure as National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, had stated that "by analyzing threats to US interests, the most dangerous scenario Great Coalition of China and Russia, united not by an ideology, but by additional grievances." Allison said the purpose of his article is to respond to the question: "Are we in the process of realizing Brezinski's nightmare?" He warned that the United States was much closer to confronting "a grand coalition of Russia and China" than it was. Expected there early in his research on this issue. Unable to find a framework or scorecard to analyze the strength of the Russian-Chinese alliance, Allison developed his own, which follows seven dimensions: "Perceptions of the threat, relations between the leaders, official designation of the other, military and intelligence cooperation, economic entanglement Alliance and elite orientation ". Regarding the first element, Allison noted that "when the Chinese and Russian leaders think of the current threats, they see the specter of the United States and they imagine an American government that seeks to undermine their regimes, or even to overthrow them. "He contrasted the uncompromising rhetoric of the United States with regard to Beijing and Moscow, the bellicose confrontation of Barack Obama by Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump's bellicose assertion that" China is violating America ", with the language used by Presidents Putin and Xi against each other.Russian officials and experts strive to present the Russia-China partnership as an alliance But, he said, despite growing cooperation, relations still do not rise to the level of a de facto alliance, and an official alliance between the two powers is unlikely. such formal commitments and fears that a formal alliance with Moscow will have a negative impact on its fragile but essential economic relationship with the US For example, although China has been "very positive about intensification of the economic cooperation with Russia, "Beijing has refuted the demands of Moscow to take specific measures to strengthen the Russian economy against Western pressures, such as carrying out financial transactions in local currency avoid the US dollar). Chinese banks were also reluctant to extend credit to Russian entities under US sanctions for fear of the consequences for their dollar transactions and transactions with US companies. The importance that Beijing attaches to its relations with the United States and the resulting reluctance A remark by the Chinese ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, during the question-and-answer session The discussion may have been clearer to tip the balance too much towards Moscow. Commenting on the cover of the current edition of National Interest, which contains a photo of a smiling Xi and Poutin shaking hands, Cui remarked that it would be nice to see Donald Trump's smiling face sides of Chinese and Russian leaders. This highlights that China is more interested in working with Russia and other partners to accelerate the emergence of a multipolar post-American world than to interfere in a permanent bipolar struggle of the world. side of Russia against the United States.

Despite a circumscribed economic cooperation and the absence of a formal alliance, Simes stressed that this relationship still had a real strategic utility for Russia: "the very feeling in Moscow of being able to choose a Chinese option encourages them to be tougher, to be more daring and to be more optimistic about their ability to survive without meaningful cooperation with the United States. " Simes noted a number of key developments that contribute to Russia's sense of resolve vis-à-vis the United States. First, Russia no longer sees China as a military threat (which was still the case in the late 1990s), territorial disputes have been resolved and China's massive migration to the Russian Far East , which had been predicted as a result of the USSR collapse never materialized. Cooperation between the military has been enhanced with a growing number of joint exercises and exercises. Russia has also undergone a change of attitude on arms sales, noted Simes. Russian arms manufacturers continue to sell China's most advanced military hardware, fearing the reversal of Chinese engineering in the late 1990s and early 2000s. US analysts have long expressed skepticism about the possibility that China and Russia develop closer cooperation. historical rivals and a lack of shared values. Nevertheless, Simes asserted that when it comes to geopolitics, immediate mutual interests and perceptions of the threat prevail over shared values. He cited several historical examples, including the close cooperation between autocratic imperial Russia and democratic France and Britain, as cases of strategic alignment between partners with divergent values ​​that have changed the course of the History: "What values ​​did France share with Russia at the beginning of the year? the last century? France was a true democracy and Russia a rather despotic monarchy, even unconstitutional. If you look at the tactical differences, it is very difficult to find two countries, which would be as strange as Russia and England at that time. You know that they worked closely together against Germany and you know again what followed. "The recurring public question was: why did the United States ignore or downplay the intensification of cooperation between China and Russia and even take steps that brought the two powers closer together?" think there is a very simple reason why we do not do it, it's not a nice topic … if you start discussing it [Sino-Russian alignment]you will have to think about unforeseen consequences. You have to think about how to avoid these consequences, "Simes said. He pointed out that the United States may need to be more restrictive in terms of foreign policy in its relations with Russia and China, where they might otherwise want to act. For Allison too, how should the United States react to the increasing congruence of their two countries? The most difficult question is that of its closest major rivals. He said the United States needed a "more realistic recognition of causes and effects. Washington likes to talk about its strategic goals, "but global politics is about consequences, not intentions. "Regardless of the sincerity of the objectives of the United States, which, according to Allison, is to condition China and Russia to accept subordinate roles in a US-led international order. current state of mind in Washington goes against "fundamental laws of international relations, which follow the rules not of" duty "or of the just, but of" east ", interests and power Washington is developing strategy by identifying targets, but fails to "align the mobilizable means to an end." To address this, Allison recommended that the United States recalibrate their strategic goals vis-à-vis the United States. China and Russia, under the Obama and Trump administrations, had "unreasonable and unrealistic goals" against Russia and China, said Allison, "America's goal is to break Russia." Putin should r to refract and return to the scenario we gave him after the end of the cold war, according to which Russia would become a democracy and take its place in Europe as we had prescribed. "Until this is done, the United States will continue to exert tremendous pressure on Russia through sanctions and other measures. Trump administration also described as strategic opponent, the only choice that Washington offers Beijing is, according to Allison, to agree to resemble us and take its place in the international order led by the United States, that we attributed to him. However, such an objective is totally impracticable because, as Allison said, paraphrasing the late Singaporean statesman Lee Kuan Yew, "China insist on being accepted as China and not as an honorary member. from the West. Allison concluded that, instead of pursuing the unrealistic goal of changing China, the US strategy should seek to create a coalition of forces that would be at least a counterbalance to the aspirations of China as we judge it. unreasonable. Russia should, in principle, be part of this coalition. "(Although it is important to note that Allison and Simes currently perceive any opening of the United States to Russia as an extremely remote possibility at the present time.) At the beginning of the discussion, Jacob Heilbrunn "Today, in a major newspaper, Donald Trump has been described as" an infantile narcissist with an unstable spirit and devastating chaos. "No, it was not the Washington Post or the New York Times, but a big Moscow newspaper ". Because of Donald Trump's unorthodox foreign policy rhetoric during the election campaign, there were rumors that he could reorient US foreign policy in a more realistic sense, giving priority to relations with both sides. largest major competitors: China and Russia. Yet two years after the start of the Trump administration, relations with both countries have deteriorated considerably. There is a vast debate in Washington on a "new cold war", which many American experts call the struggle between democracy and authoritarianism. How a president that many considered he was willing to adopt a more realistic approach to foreign policy, element would have sought to restore some balance in the American-Chinese-Russian-Russian strategic triangle and to preside over simultaneous and ideologically charged clashes with Moscow and Beijing? According to Simes, although Trump presented "realistic impulses" as a candidate, as president he is not interested in "systematic strategic thinking" and, like his immediate predecessors , avoids a serious strategic analysis. Unfortunately, the cost of the US's inability to think strategically has been too predictable, the main one being an increasingly close alignment between Russia and China. John S. Van Oudenaren is Deputy Director of the Center for the national interest.Read the full article