USA, Russia and China: The new strategy of tension

On the evening of March 17, Western diplomats and political analysts around the world were still puzzling over the real motives behind President Joe Biden’s brutal verbal attack on his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (“a killer…”), when in Anchorage, Alaska, U.S. diplomacy lashed out head-on at a high-level Chinese delegation during what was supposed to be the first major USA-China Summit since the new Presidential Administration took office in Washington.

Those who had imagined that, with the end of Trump’s era, U.S. international relations would go back to the polite manners of diplomacy and ‘multilateralism’ quickly had to change their minds.

Joe Biden made his debut on the international scene by ordering the bombing of an Iraqi village that allegedly housed Shia militiamen supported by Iran.

The action resulted in 22 to 27 deaths, whether guerrillas or collateral victims is not known. The fact remains that a President who coldly and lucidly ordered a necessarily bloody war action, carried out on the territory of a sovereign State, calls his Russian colleague ‘a killer’ and at the same time declares that China is a ‘strategic enemy’ of the United States.

This new policy line of unsuspected aggression of the new U.S. President was evidently shared with conviction by the new Secretary of State, Antony Blinken (who was Hillary Clinton’s number 2 when the disgraceful operation of “rapprochement” with the Libyan militias was conceived, which cost Ambassador Chris Stevens his life in 2012), who, on the evening of March 17, opened the Summit with the Chinese delegation bluntly accusing China of repressing the Uygur Muslim minority in Xinjiang, as well as of undemocratic actions in Hong Kong and of “cyberattacks on the United States”.

The reply by Jang Jeichi, Director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC), was also outside the bounds of diplomatic courtesy: “The United States” – the Chinese diplomat replied-“uses its military power and financial hegemony to crush other countries…abuses the so-called notion of national security to hinder trade and incite other States to attack China…You have to put an end to this Cold War mentality. Thisisnot the way to deal with our country. Cooperation can benefit both sides, but you have to follow diplomatic protocol.”

The Summit ended with a vague preliminary agreement on combating climate change, not without yet another ‘deviation’ from the manners of diplomacy, when Blinken abruptly cancelled dinner with the Chinese delegation in a way that the guests found unnecessarily rude and irritating.

The useless Anchorage Summit will also adversely affect the issue of USA-North Korea relations.

The strategy devised by Donald Trump to convince the North Korean leadership to start a process of real denuclearisation of the country had become ever more evanescent since -once half of his term of office had elapsed – he showed he was more interested in his re-election than in international relations, to the point that his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, coming back from a poor figure in Rome where he had not been received by Pope Francis, who was clearly irritated by American interference in relations between the Vatican and China, made a pointless visit to Pyongyang where the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, refused to receive him.

Those who expected a change of tune with the new Presidential Administration had to change their mind.

If the problem of a North Korea equipped with nuclear weapons and modern carriers is considered a real problem, then the U.S. Department of State must recognise that its solution passes through China, because without sound Chinese guarantees, it is difficult for Kim Jong Un to abandon his strategy of self-defence, including the nuclear one.

It would therefore seem very difficult for the new Secretary of State to reopen a channel of dialogue with North Korea by heavily insulting a Chinese delegation visiting the United States, while the United States – in the silence of the new Administration – is facing a wave of protests over the violence suffered by Americans of Asian origin.

After President Biden’s cold TV attack on Putin, Russia, too, reacted with detached firmness: after recalling its Ambassador to Washington – a move which is hardly less severe than the breaking off of diplomatic relations – Putin contented himself with poking fun at his American colleague’s health conditions and mental state, while his Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, refrained from commenting on the American President’s accusations and preferred to fly to Beijing on March 21 for consultations with President Xi Jinping.

In short, faced with an American Administration that wants to appear decidedly more aggressive than the one led by Trump who, however, at the end of his term of office managed to act as a catalyst for the new relations between Israel and the Arab world, Russia and China are strengthening ties and cooperation, with the creation of an axis that can shift the true centre of gravity of international relations to the East, without neglecting the geo-strategic attention that both Russia and China pay to the Mediterranean.

In fact, while Russia is firmly present in Syria, where it has the port of Latakia as its base, and is the main partner of Syria in the reconstruction of the country from the ruins of civil war, China, which has the largest commercial fleet in the world, after dedicating its energies and investment to Africa, has entered the Mediterranean with strong investment in Greece (it is said that after having ‘conquered’ Piraeus, China is looking carefully at Palermo and Trieste) and sound initial contacts with Israel for the use of the port of Haifa.

Like Israel, China has actually emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic crisis and appears to be intelligently oriented towards encouraging the recovery and revival of international economy after the collapse following the health emergency.

In this situation, which should see the world’s most advanced countries trying to deploy common and synergistic efforts to revive the economy at world level, by overcoming long-standing and old-fashioned ideological fences, the United States is even thinking of shifting NATO’s attention eastwards, in a prospect of confrontation with Russia and China that seems to want to bring back the bleakest and gloomiest climate of the Cold War.

The strategy inaugurated by President Biden and his Secretary of State Blinkenis a strategy of tension to which Europe looks with obvious embarrassment, being aware that only an innovative approach to trade, as well as to financial and political relations at global level, will be able to get our world out of the most severe crisis of the century.

A strategy of tension that appears short-sighted and unmotivated and does not take into account the old saying that “when goods do not cross borders, soldiers will”.

Giancarlo Elia Valori
Giancarlo Elia Valori
Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is a world-renowned Italian economist and international relations expert, who serves as the President of International Studies and Geopolitics Foundation, International World Group, Global Strategic Business In 1995, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem dedicated the Giancarlo Elia Valori chair of Peace and Regional Cooperation. Prof. Valori also holds chairs for Peace Studies at Yeshiva University in New York and at Peking University in China. Among his many honors from countries and institutions around the world, Prof. Valori is an Honorable of the Academy of Science at the Institute of France, Knight Grand Cross, Knight of Labor of the Italian Republic, Honorary Professor at the Peking University