RUS­SIA, US CAN RE­SET TIES

If any­one has the in­ten­tion to de­stroy Rus­sia, we have a le­git­i­mate right to an­swer. Yes, for mankind it will be a global dis­as­ter; for the world it will be a global dis­as­ter – but... why should we ac­cept such a world if no Rus­sia will be in it?

The Gulf Today - - FOCUS - BY ALEXANDER LEBEDEV

It is a common trope for US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Rus­sian pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin to warn that re­la­tions be­tween the world’s two lead­ing nu­clear pow­ers face the most se­ri­ous cri­sis since the Cold War’s dark­est era. Both men HAVE Also RELECTED on THE NEED to im­prove their re­la­tion­ship in the in­ter­ests of peace and global sta­bil­ity. Un­for­tu­nately, be­yond ag­grieved state­ments and ex­pres­sions of good­will, things are not get­ting bet­ter. There are even mo­ments when the pos­i­tive words col­lapse into ac­ri­mony and the threat arises once again of a peace that is no peace.

The lat­est warn­ing sign has come from the an­nounce­ment by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion that the US is to with­draw from the In­ter­me­di­ate-range Nu­clear Forces treaty (INF), agreed with the Soviet Union in 1987. A Rus­sian sen­a­tor ex­plic­itly ac­cused Trump of “re­turn­ing the world to the Cold War”. It is clear that this un­der­min­ing of the Cold War frame­work for de­tente and co­op­er­a­tion is dan­ger­ous for the world.

Equally con­cern­ing was the es­ca­la­tion of THE Syr­ian Conlict In IDLIB province, where regime forces, sup­ported by the Rus­sian mil­i­tary, were mass­ing to as­sault the last bas­tion of rebels and ter­ror­ists. Mean­while, Washington had al­ready pre-emp­tively ac­cused Bashar al-as­sad of the use of chem­i­cal weapons and con­cen­trated a naval squadron to be ready for mis­sile strikes. The episode was rem­i­nis­cent of the Caribbean Cri­sis of 1962, when con­tro­versy about Soviet mis­siles in Cuba al­most led to an­other world war.

We see the same heated con­fronta­tion in Europe where Nato is in­creas­ing mil­i­tary in­fra­struc­ture on its east­ern fron­tiers, in­clud­ing el­e­ments of mis­sile de­fence. Rus­sia is ef­fec­tively be­ing pushed into an arms race, de­vel­op­ing next gen­er­a­tion “hy­per­sonic” rock­ets and a “dooms­day sub­ma­rine”. Con­sid­er­ing that both par­ties have al­ready ac­cu­mu­LATED sig­ni­icant stock­piles of weapons of mass De­struc­tion, such lash­points could have apoc­a­lyp­tic con­se­quences.

NO RUS­SIA?

What is per­haps most dan­ger­ous is this: both sides are morally ready to push the but­ton. Last spring, ad­dress­ing the Rus­sian elite with his an­nual ad­dress to par­lia­ment, Pres­i­dent Putin said: “If any­one has the in­ten­tion to de­stroy Rus­sia, we have a le­git­i­mate right to an­swer. Yes, for mankind it will be a global dis­as­ter; for the world it will be a global dis­as­ter – but as a ci­ti­zen of Rus­sia, as the Rus­sian pres­i­dent, I want to ask: why should we ac­cept such a world if no Rus­sia will be in it?”

All this hap­pened si­mul­ta­ne­ously with the deep­en­ing sanc­tions war, launched it should be noted by the No­bel Peace Prize lau­re­ate Barack Obama, who in 2015 in his ad­dress to Congress, bragged that: “Rus­sia is iso­lated with its econ­omy in tat­ters.” With Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion, the old Amer­i­can es­tab­lish­ment has been forced to exit (pur­sued by a bear?), claim­ing as its cause cele­bre the al­leged in­ter­fer­ence of Rus­sians in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. What’s more, the sanc­tions im­posed by Amer­ica on Rus­sian com­pa­nies, which have no di­rect role in squab­bles be­tween Washington and Moscow, sim­ply force Rus­sians to look for part­ners in other parts of THE world. AND they ind one, irst AND Fore­most, In CHINA.

If any­one has the in­ten­tion to de­stroy Rus­sia, we have a le­git­i­mate right to an­swer. Yes, for mankind it will be a global dis­as­ter; for the world it will be a global dis­as­ter – but... why should we ac­cept such a world if no Rus­sia will be in it?

Mean­while, the ex­is­ten­tial eco­nomic and geopo­lit­i­cal threat to al­most a cen­tury of Amer­i­can global supremacy em­anates not from Rus­sia at all. The source of this threat is nei­ther in Europe, nor in the Mid­dle East.

In THE 21st Cen­tury, THE PACIIC Ocean plays the same role for hu­man civil­i­sa­tion as the Mediter­ranean did in an­tiq­uity. In the coun­tries ad­ja­cent to THE PACIIC OCEAN we ind THE ma­jor­ity of the Earth’s pop­u­la­tion, pro­duc­ing a large part of the world’s ma­te­rial value. Here too are con­cen­trated the pri­mary cen­tres of tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. The prin­ci­pal ri­val of the US in the ASIA-PACIIC REGION (AND, THERE­FORE, in the world as a whole) is of course China, which, by some es­ti­mates, has al­ready sur­passed Amer­ica in size of con­tri­bu­tion to­wards global GDP.

The “Ce­les­tial Em­pire” has be­come the work­house of the world, with its al­most un­lim­ited hu­man and nat­u­ral re­sources. The de­vel­op­ment of a sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship be­tween China and Rus­sia, with its mil­i­tary-in­dus­trial com­plex should con­cern Amer­i­can an­a­lysts.

DOM­I­NANT TIEUP

Rus­sia will cre­ate a dom­i­nant al­liance. In prin­ci­ple, Moscow could take its east­ern neigh­bour, which lacks se­ri­ous po­ten­tial in its in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gramme, un­der the “nu­clear um­brella” – in the same way as the US did in for its Nato al­lies – and pro­vide China with modern con­ven­tional weapons. Na­tional In­ter­est re­cently de­scribed the sale of Rus­sian SU-35 ighter AIR­CRAFT (“Flanker” un­der Nato’s Clas­si­ica­tion) to THE CHI­NESE AIR FORCE as “a night­mare and a headache” for Amer­i­can forces in Asia.

How­ever, this is not only a ques­tion of mil­i­tary su­pe­ri­or­ity: to­gether with other Brics coun­tries (Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, China, South Africa), China could put an end to the Bret­ton Woods sys­tem of trade set­tle­ments based on the US dol­lar. In so do­ing, it would tear down a pyra­mid of na­tional banks and cast Amer­ica into a much deeper cri­sis than the Great De­pres­sion of the 1930s.

How­ever, for the Rus­sian bear, friend­ship with the Chi­nese tiger holds many dangers as well. First of all, Rus­sia could eas­ily be­come de­pen­dent on China by turn­ing from a pri­mary sup­plier of raw ma­te­rial to the west – as it was un­til re­cently – into a client state. At the same time, mi­gra­tion of Chi­nese pop­u­la­tions to the Far East re­gions of Rus­sia, which are cur­rently suf­fer­ing de­mo­graphic prob­lems, could eas­ily change the eth­nic bal­ance there and even­tu­ally cre­ate a back­ground for ter­ri­to­rial claims.

In­deed, it is worth re­mem­ber­ing that re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries were not al­ways as sunny as they are to­day. Half a cen­tury ago, com­mu­nist China – led by “the great helms­man” Mao Ze­dong – was pre­par­ing for war with the Soviet Union. The bat­tle for the dis­puted Da­man­sky Is­land in 1969 was the cul­mi­na­tion of months of ten­sion be­fore diplo­macy pre­vailed. If China in the fu­ture were to use its in­creased mil­i­tary power in ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes with its neigh­bours, or to re­solve the ques­tion of its re­la­tion­ship with Tai­wan, there could be dan­ger­ous con­se­quences for Rus­sia.

There can be no doubt that his­tor­i­cally and cul­tur­ally Rus­sia be­longs to the Euro­pean fam­ily of na­tions. How­ever, its unique­ness lies in the para­dox­i­cal fact that it is the only Euro­pean coun­try whose main­land coasts are washed By THE PACIIC. THIS In turn CRE­ATES the civil­i­sa­tional grounds for a global part­ner­ship with the United States, an­other na­tion that looks out across that great ocean.

Un­for­tu­nately, A sig­ni­icant portion of the elites in both Washington and Moscow ARE ix­ated to­day on no­tions of mu­tual hos­til­ity – es­pe­cially when that hos­til­ity plays a role in do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal games. How­ever, fan­tas­ti­CAL As It may sound, A irm AL­LIANCE be­tween Rus­sia and Amer­ica is not only pos­si­ble, it is both nec­es­sary and in­evitable since it meets the key, un­der­ly­ing geopo­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests of both coun­tries. In or­der to un­der­stand how such an al­liance can come about, we must look at the present con­tra­dic­tions from a new an­gle.

The ma­jor ag­gra­vat­ing ele­ment in Rus­sian-amer­i­can re­la­tions is in East­ern Europe. Re­cently pub­lished short­hand re­ports of ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clin­ton demon­strate that even in the 1990s – when Rus­sian for­eign pol­icy largely cor­re­sponded to Amer­i­can in­ter­ests – there ex­isted se­ri­ous con­tra­dic­tions. The Krem­lin tried to re­sist a cow­boy’s swoop by Amer­ica, which was at the time ine­bri­ated by its sup­posed vic­tory in the Cold War. Yeltsin sug­gested to Clin­ton that there should be a “ver­bal gen­tle­men’s agree­ment” that no post-soviet repub­lic would en­ter Nato. US and Nato in­ter­ven­tion in THE Balkans Con­licts, AND Es­pe­cially the bomb­ing of Bel­grade – be­came a turn­ing point (lit­er­ally in the case of the Rus­sian prime min­is­ter at the time, Evgeny Pri­makov, whose LIGHT turned around on its way to ne­go­ti­a­tions with Washington). On March 24 1999, Boris Yeltsin told Bill Clin­ton in a rage: “There will not be such a great drive and such friend­ship that we had be­fore. That will not be there again”.

File/as­so­ci­ated Press

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump (left) and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin wel­come each other at the Pres­i­den­tial Palace in Helsinki, Fin­land, on July 16, prior to Trump’s and Putin’s one-on-one meeting in the Fin­nish cap­i­tal.

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