By John Ross
The US attempt to expand NATO into Ukraine, both in its direct effects and in emboldening the Kiev government’s attempt to deprive the Russian speaking population of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine of their rights via the 2014 coup d’etat, is the cause of the Ukraine military conflict. But while there are extremely specific features of the Ukraine situation there are also key elements characterising the present course of US foreign policy. These pose a great threat to humanity as a whole and have direct effects on Russia-China relations. This latter aspect is the subject of this article.
The great general danger to humanity, as well as to Russia and China, is the US’s current trend to increasingly transfer issues onto the military field. This escalating course of US military actions is clear. It started with US wars against developing countries militarily weaker than the US – attack on Serbia (1999), Afghanistan invasion (2001), Iraq invasion (2003), bombing of Libya (2011). Now, with the attempt to expand NATO into Ukraine, following on from United States support for the 2014 Ukraine coup d’etat, the US has been prepared to carry out a policy which it knew in advance affected the most fundamental national interests of Russia – therefore crossing its “red lines”. Russia is a country with very strong military forces including nuclear weapons.
In parallel, the US has systematically attempted to erode the “one China” policy – the fundamental basis of US-China relations since Nixon’s 1972 Beijing visit. The US is conscious that the One China policy affects China’s most fundamental national interests and that to abandon it crosses China’s “red lines” in the same way the attempt to incorporate Ukraine into NATO crosses Russia’s.
The US is, equally, fully aware that its claim that in the issue of NATO and Ukraine it is upholding the “right” of countries to enter military alliances is the purest sophistry. In the 1962 Cuban missile crisis the US never upheld the “national right” of Cuba to host Soviet missiles – the US made clear it was prepared to go to war to prevent it. And the distance of a missile from Ukraine to Moscow is less than half the distance of a missile from Cuba to the US.
The US is therefore escalating from military attacks on developing countries – which are entirely unjust but do not bring such risks to the whole of humanity as the threat of world nuclear wars – to aggression against great powers such as Russia and China. This US trend of military escalation is thereby a general threat to humanity, making it necessary to analyse why the US is embarking on this policy?
The core of the issue is that the US has already lost overwhelming world economic predominance. Even taking the US’s single biggest competitor economy, China, the US no longer has an overwhelming lead.
At market exchange rates the US economy is still bigger than China but in realistic price levels, purchasing power parities (PPPs), China’s economy is already 18% larger than the US.
Even if it is conceded that overall the United States economy is still ahead of China, due to the US higher level of productivity and technology, the US has already clearly lost its global economic predominance. By 2021, in PPPs, the US accounted for only 16% of the world economy – 84% of the world economy is outside the US. The issue of geopolitics is discussed below, but in the economy the global era of multipolarity has already arrived.
The great present danger is that while the US has irreversibly lost global economic dominance it has not yet lost military supremacy. Certainly, in nuclear weapons the US and Russia are approximately equal but the conventional military spending of the US is far higher than any other country.
This difference between the economic and military positions of the US marks the fundamental difference between the “new cold war” being waged by the US and the “old cold war” waged by the US against the Soviet Union. In the first cold war the US and USSR’s military strength was roughly comparable. But the US economy was always much larger than the Soviet economy.
In that situation US strategy was to attempt to shift issues onto the economic terrain. Even Reagan’s military build-up of the 1980s was not actually intended to wage war against the USSR but to engage it in an arms race damaging the Soviet economy. Consequently, despite geopolitical tension, cold war never turned to hot war.
The present US situation is the opposite. The US’s economic position has weakened greatly. But its military power is still very great. Therefore, the US attempts to move issues onto the military terrain. This explains its escalating military aggression.
A chilling historical analogy can be found. In 1912 German Chief of Staff Moltke made the notorious statement “war is unavoidable and the sooner the better.” This, from Germany’s viewpoint, was a rational calculation. Russia and the US’s economies were growing more rapidly than Germany – inevitably leading to them becoming militarily stronger than Germany. Therefore, Moltke called for war as soon as possible.
This is similarly the great present danger flowing from the US. The US is attempting to use its military strength to avoid the geopolitical consequences of its relative economic decline. This therefore produces an escalating US use of war.
This directly affects Russia and China’s relations. Russia and China on good terms is a formidable economic and military obstacle to US threats of war. Therefore, the central strategic goal of US policy is to separate Russia and China – then the US will attack them individually including using military strength.
Chinese TV presenter Liu Xin put it perfectly regarding Biden’s present attempt to separate China and Russia: “Can you help me fight your friend so that I can concentrate on fighting you later?”. It is vital for Russia, China, and humanity this reality is understood.
The above article was originally posted here by the Valdai Discussion Club.