by Jim Rickards, Daily Reckoning:
The war in Ukraine will have huge ramifications for the international system in the coming years. Many will prove negative for the U.S. as sanctions backfire and the world moves more rapidly toward dollar alternatives.
Unfortunately, the war in Ukraine was totally avoidable. Had the U.S. pursued closer ties with Russia years ago, rather than antagonizing it and driving it into a deeper alliance with China, it’s highly unlikely the war would have taken place.
But largely because of elites in the U.S. and Europe, hopes of a partnership with Russia were dashed.
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I’ve made the argument before, but sometimes we all need to be reminded of basic facts. We need to remember how we got here.
There’s an old saying in poker: If you’re in a three-way poker game and you don’t know who the sucker is, you’re the sucker.
The idea is that in a three-handed game, two players will disadvantage the sucker by coordinating their betting and not raising each other. Eventually, the sucker is cleaned out and the two survivors can then turn on each other.
The world is in a three-handed poker game today.
Russia, China and the U.S. are the only true superpowers and the only three countries that ultimately matter in geopolitics. That’s not a slight against any other power.
But all others are secondary powers (the U.K., France, Germany, Japan, Israel, etc.) or tertiary powers (Iran, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc.).
The U.S. Is the Sucker
This means that the ideal posture for the U.S. is to ally with Russia (to marginalize China) or ally with China (to marginalize Russia), depending on overall geopolitical conditions.
The U.S. conducted this kind of triangulation successfully from the 1970s until the early 2000s.
One of the keys to U.S. foreign policy in the last 50 or 60 years has been to make sure that Russia and China never formed an alliance. Keeping them separated was key.
In 1972, Nixon pivoted to China to put pressure on Russia. In 1991, the U.S. pivoted to Russia to put pressure on China after the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Unfortunately, the U.S. has lost sight of this basic rule of international relations. It is now Russia and China that have formed a strong alliance, to the disadvantage of the United States.
The war in Ukraine has only deepened their relationship.
Ultimately, this two-against-one strategic alignment of China and Russia against the U.S. is a strategic blunder by the U.S.
The U.S. is the sucker in this three-way game of poker. The fact is Washington has squandered a major opportunity to turn it in America’s favor.
A Historic Blunder
When future historians look back on the 2010s they will be baffled by the lost opportunity for the U.S. to mend fences with Russia, develop economic relations and create a win-win relationship between the world’s greatest technology innovator and the world’s greatest natural resources provider.
China is the greatest geopolitical threat to the U.S. because of its economic and technological advances and its ambition to push the U.S. out of the Western Pacific sphere of influence.
Russia may be a threat to some of its neighbors (ask Ukraine), but it is far less of a threat to U.S. strategic interests. It’s not the Soviet Union anymore.
Therefore, a logical balance of power in the world would be for the U.S. and Russia to find common ground in the containment of China and to jointly pursue the reduction of Chinese power.
Of course, that didn’t happen. And we could be paying the price for years to come. Who’s to blame for this U.S. strategic failure? You can start with the globalist elites…
Poking the Russian Bear
The U.S. and its allies, especially the U.K. under globalists like David Cameron, wanted to peel off Ukraine from the Russian orbit and make it part of the EU and eventually NATO.
From Russia’s perspective, this was unacceptable. It may be true that most Americans cannot find Ukraine on a map, but a simple glance at a map reveals that much of Ukraine lies east of Moscow.