April 21st, 2017 – Fort Russ News –
– Op-ed by Denis Churilov for FRN –
One of the Trump administration long-term foreign policy goals is to set Russia and China against each other.
Let’s look at the recent events from this perspective.
Since his inauguration, Trump has been saying that he thinks the US should work together with Russia on fighting ISIS, and that China is America’s primary economic competitor. I. e. lets friendship with Russia, let’s lift sanctions and try to integrate it closer with the West, so it won’t be partnering up with China.
Then, at the beginning of this month, between April 5 and April 7, Trump does a complete 180 turn in his foreign policy. He has, reportedly, very pleasant talks with Xi Jinping, he feeds him a chocolate cake, signs some deals and, at the same time, hits Syrian airbase with Tomahawk missiles, de facto declaring a war against Russia’s primary regional ally in the Middle East. NATO becomes “no longer obsolete”. Putin becomes “complicit in gassing beautiful babies”. Russia now must “choose between Assad and the West”. The US, once again, turns very hostile against Russia.
All of this, again, happens at the time when the US-Chinese relationships are apparently skyrocketing. It is as if the Russians are told that China will easily team-up with the US in solving issues, and that Russia will be left alone against US, NATO, and their exponentially growing hostility in Syria.
A few days later, the US State Secretary Tillerson comes to Moscow to speak to FM Lavrov and president Putin. The talks go unproductive, judging by the following press-conference. It appears that both sides just stated and articulated their positions and agreed to disagree, without reaching any sensible compromises. Nevertheless, even before Tillerson comes back to Washington, Trump posts a rather optimistic tweet, saying that he believes that the US-Russian relationships will eventually improve. Soon, the US representatives state that, once again, the priority in Syria should be fighting ISIS, and that Assad could be dealt with later…
This happens at, virtually, the same time when the tensions near the Korean peninsula begin to exacerbate, with the US naval strike team steadily approaching the region. Americans show off a bunker-busting MOAB in Afghanistan (showing both North Korea and Chinese that, in case the war breaks out, Kim Jong-un wouldn’t be able to hide in a bunker).
The signal is sent to the Chinese – if anything happens, we will be able to get along with Russia.
Everyone is getting mixed signals.
Therefore, Trump’s behaviour could be viewed in terms of him trying to destroy the trust between Russia and China.
Him behaving like an unpredictable lunatic who doesn’t know what he wants, changing his position every couple of days, serves to scare the other side(s), making them likely to appease and seek compromise in negotiations. Besides, him sending mixed signals, making contradictory statements and doing the 180 turns is done to confuse analysts and to mess up the projections for rival strategists.
His aggressive chest-beating and show-off of military might also serves to release the tensions domestically, satisfying dominance-seeking neoconservatives, the military-industrial complex, as well as bloodthirsty liberal mainstream media establishment (all have been trying to bend his administration over since the inauguration).
The issue for Trump here is that Russia and China aren’t exactly governed by idiots either. Both Russian and Chinese elites have read Trump’s business books, both have enormous analytical/intellectual capacity and experience in playing such games.
There’s also another issue. While such hostile tactics and strategies might work fine in American real estate, the global politics and nuclear superpower relationships are far too complex and multi-factorial for that. Playing such games is too dangerous on such a scale. Not only because firing missiles actually kills people, but also because someone somewhere might snap, and we will all end up in a nuclear apocalypse.