Hegemony is a Three-Player Game

by Jim Rickards, DailyReckoning: Three-player games are easy to model — it’s always two against one. The art of geopolitics and examining hegemony powers in such situations is to be part of a duo that pressures the remaining player, or, at a minimum, keep the other two players separated.

This is basic balance-of-power politics as practiced since the rise of Napoleon (1799), with antecedents in the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), and Machiavelli’s The Prince (1532).

The case for normalizing relations between Russia and the U.S. rests on the coming confrontation between the U.S. and China. This confrontation stems from China’s refusal to help the U.S. deal decisively with North Korea, which is pushing the U.S. toward a pre-emptive war on the Korean peninsula.

Other flashpoints with China include conflicting claims in the South China Sea, currency manipulation, trade subsidies, theft of intellectual property, and cyber-warfare.

These conflicts were held in abeyance while China was given “100 days” (from the Mar-a-Lago summit on April 6, 2017 to July 15, 2017) to help with North Korea. Now that the 100 days are up and China has failed to deliver, the gloves are off. The months ahead will witness increasing tension and specific actions by the U.S. aimed at China.

To secure the U.S. position in this conflict and as a simple matter of statecraft, the U.S. needs improved relations with Russia as an offset to deteriorating relations with China.

Russia can assist the U.S. is numerous ways. First and foremost is Syria. Russia and the U.S., along with indigenous forces from Iraq, Jordan and the UAE, are well down the path of eliminating ISIS as a political entity. (ISIS will remain as a terrorist incubator along with Al Qaeda franchises and their respective sympathizers).

A modus vivendi can be reached where Russia and their Ba’athist allies, U.S.-backed rebels, Kurds, and Turkey all have separate spheres of influence in Syria. The loser in this scenario is Iran, which has been a leading backer of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Russia can also help the United States on the North Korean dossier even though China has proved unable or unwilling to do so. Russia has enormous economic leverage in North Korea. Private intelligence service STRATFOR reported the following on July 11, 2017:

Russia shipped $2.3 million worth of oil products to North Korea between January and April 2017, a 200 percent increase, Yonhap and Korea Times reported July 11. Last year, North Korea reportedly turned to Russia after experiencing difficulty securing oil supplies from China. A North Korean defector suggested Russia supplies North Korea with 200,000 to 300,000 tons of fuel annually via a company in Singapore. North Korea’s increased dependence on Russian fuel indicates its anticipation of tougher international sanctions following its recent intercontinental ballistic missile launch on July 4.

By stepping into China’s shoes as a supplier to North Korea, Russia has increased its leverage over North Korea and therefore has increased its ability to assist the United States. This type of leverage is one of the few paths to a resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue without resorting to war. It is of enormous value to the U.S. and argues in favor of improved U.S.-Russian relations.

The foregoing is an overview of the greatest political struggle in the world today. The nationalists and realists want to improve U.S. relations with Russia. The globalists are horrified at the prospect and want to maintain warm relations with China while isolating Russia.

Hegemony and Geopolitical Struggle

The White House has already decided in favor of Russia. The problem is how to execute that plan in the face of withering attacks about phony scandals from the media, Democrats, resistance and globalists.

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