There was an article in the Wall Street Journal today about the steadily strengthened relationship between Russia and China, and it does a nice job of highlighting the challenges the U.S. will face over the next couple of decades.
President Xi has long been an admirer of Vladimir Putin and Russia, something that dates back to his childhood as his father did some work for Mao studying Soviet institutions. You can read the article to find out more, but the tenuous relationship between Russia and China has steadily improved under the leadership of Xi and Putin.
I’ll come back to this in a minute
The United States has put itself in a very challenging position. The last 50 years has been riddled with reckless foreign policy decisions in regards to the use of our military power. During the Cold War there was such a focus on combating Communism that we found ourselves supporting some pretty evil people in places like Latin America and the Middle East.
Supporting the Contras in Nicaragua might be the best example of this as we put aside any need to to enforce human rights in favor of fighting communism.
Then came September 11th, and although terrorism became the new enemy it was a similar story. I don’t need to relitigate Iraq and Afghanistan. The point is, that we have a very difficult time taking any moral high ground, and the American people have been jaded to the point where most Americans want us to pull back from our enormous policing role in the World.
That being said, both Russia and China are really dangerous threats, and thanks to the way we launched ourselves into the role of sole superpower, we are the only significant check against this. Ukraine for instance, would be Russian territory right now if not for our support.
So how do we deal with this going forward? We need to check these emerging dictators, but we also need to be humble about the limits of our strength.
Going back to Russia and China’s relationship, neither of them are without problems of there own. Yes they are signed military pacts, and China’s demand has helped Russian absorb the damage of economic sanctions from the west. But China still needs U.S. technology to achieve it’s goals, and both countries have some level of internal political upheaval. Meaning I don’t think the threat is as imminent as it may seem.
So while we support countries like Ukraine and Taiwan against aggression, and have some time to repair our image.
I think there’s a comparison to be made to the policing issue we are facing in this country. Traditional policing, like our policing role in the world, has the problem of victimizing certain individuals, groups, or nations. On the flip side, community policing, alongside community development, targets the root of the problem.
Instead of always prioritizing our immediate National Security needs, we need to prioritize our long term needs. WIth our strength and wealth we are in a position to create allies and goodwill in the world. If we simply focused on the needs of other nations and being a good partner to people, not necessarily governments, it would have the long term effect of serving our interests. Strengthening the Peace Corps for instance
Domestically we can turn ourselves into a welcoming nation for refugees, and truly being the hope of the world. Now I know this is a lot of flowers and roses, and not so easy. But the old way of doing things is not going to help us against some of the most populous nations in the world. Remember India is also at risk.
This kind of strategy would make it so we didn’t need to spend twice as much as all of the countries combined on our military. Simply strengthening our current alliances, and generating new ones through generosity.Follow Tony