The 2000 presidential race being done and over, except for the tens of millions of Americans who believe the election was stolen and a general cloud of illegitimacy that will hang over the Biden presidency for the entirety of his term, Joe Biden finds himself in the place of a dog who was chasing a car—and caught it. Given the magnitude of America’s problem, one would have to be a spectacularly vain and/or power-hungry individual to want the job of President, but then again, who if not Joe Biden is that guy? And now that he has the job, he will have to address a broad range of domestic and international issues in a way that somehow prevents the increasingly intractable problems from causing a system-wide crack-up of US politics. The occupation of the US Capitol with the participation of great many active and retired police officers and members of the military, to the point of prompting US Joint Chiefs to issue an unprecedented proclamation to their troops to shut up and follow orders, means that the temptation to seal the deepening chasms dividing the US society through some sort of desperate foreign adventure intended to secure new markets and resources for US corporations, and therefore US workers and farmers, will increase. That expansion is to be accomplished at the expense of China and Russia, replacing their own homegrown corporations and state monopolies with US-based ones, on the model of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states, and even European countries that are heavily penetrated by US financial and information technology firms to the point of having sacrificed a great deal of their sovereignty. Russia and China have preserved themselves from becoming US “semi-periphery”, in both economic and political sense, which makes them obvious targets for Biden’s own “maximum pressure” campaigns to subjugate them, of the sort that Iran and Cuba, for example, have been bearing for decades. But while it’s clear that US will be openly hostile to both China and Russia, seeking to delegitimize their political institutions and promote destabilization and regime change, it does not appear the Biden administration foreign policy team has a clear plan on how to prioritize between these to biggest targets.
The Indirect Road to China
It is evident from a variety of sources, including quasi-private think tanks like the Atlantic Council and the pronouncements of senior US military officers like Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Milley that the US establishment regards China as a rising power and Russia as a declining one. The latter assessment appears to be based on a simple lack of understanding of processes occurring within the Russian Federation in the last two decades, combined with the Western propensity to regard course of history in linear rather than cyclical terms. US power has grown since 1776, therefore it will always continue to grow. Russia’s power declined after the collapse of USSR, therefore it is bound to continue to decline. But regardless of the source of the misconception, in practical terms it means that while China is viewed as the bigger threat, the Main Enemy, as it were, Russia is seen as a more vulnerable and therefore more attractive target. Judging by the changes in the US policies toward Russia, it appears that the goal of US foreign policy became first regime change in Russia, followed by economic isolation of China that would be much easier to achieve once both the Middle East and the Russian Federation, potential or actual sources of vast quantities of raw materials China’s manufacturing and population require, became US satellites in the same way Australia, for example, already is.
This development would place China in a position identical to Japan’s in the late 1930s, a country that proved highly vulnerable to steadily escalating US economic warfare and which moreover could not capitalize on its Non-Aggression Pact with USSR due to its rather ill-conceived alliance with Nazi Germany. Once isolated by US pressure, Japan gambled everything on a three-theater war against China, the British Empire, and the United States which it ultimately lost. Moreover, should Russia become a US satellite state, its military forces could be committed to a land campaign against China, in the name of “democracy promotion”, mirroring USSR’s decision to join the war against Japan that was solicited by Western powers unwilling to sustain the heavy losses an invasion of Japan would inevitably cause.
The Russian Bear Refuses to Play
The “Free Russia” component of US strategy went into high gear in 2014, when it was expected that the Kiev Maidan would be swiftly followed by one in Moscow, particularly after Western economic sanctions that were imposed as “punishment” for the reunification of Crimea. Were that strategy implemented two decades later, it would have likely enjoyed quick success. Instead it merely validated Prime Minister Witte’s “if you give Russia 20 years of peace, you won’t recognize her”. Instead of becoming a US client state, Russia became more independent and assertive internationally, demonstrating this not only in Ukraine but also in Syria. In spite of the US dominance in the Middle East, the small Russian military contingent in Syria proved impossible to dislodge through the usual US means of supplying and directing proxy non-state actors against the Russian presence.
It does not appear that Western powers-that-be have fully grasped the import of the 2014 “stab in the back” to the Russia-West relations for contrary to the usual Western propaganda, the Russian Federation in 2014 was very much a West-oriented country, seeking greater membership and involvement in Western economic and political institutions. The betrayal of these aspirations by Western actions means that Western leaders are now viewed as utterly untrustworthy, which means that greater exposure to and interdependence with Western economies and institutions is seen as a source of mortal danger to the Russian state. Since both nature and geopolitics abhor a vacuum, the West’s rejection of Russia meant better and more extensive relations with China, motivated by both countries’ shared interest in countering aggressive policies aimed at each of the two. In practical terms it means that it is not in China’s self-interest to see Russia succumb to Western pressure, just as it is not in Russia’s interest to see China fall either. That convergence of Russian and Chinese interests means that Obama-Harris foreign policy will have to reassess the Obama-Biden strategy of “Russia first, China second”.