Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Racing to Multipolarity – The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on April 1, 2023

The sanctions on Russia have had the unintended consequence of more firmly coupling Russia and China, a geopolitical shift away from unipolarity.

Unintended consequences seems to be a US specialty.

Ted Snider


(Photo by SERGEI KARPUKHIN/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

Ted Snider

Mar 27, 202312:00 PM

In a quest to maintain its hegemony in a unipolar world, American foreign policy strategy has sought to weaken a Russia that it sees as an “acute threat” and to confront and contain a China that it sees as “the most comprehensive and serious challenge to U.S. national security.”

The immediate challenge is Russia, the theory goes, but the long-term challenge is China. It is not strategically optimal to fight both superpowers at once. Russia has to be weakened so China can be confronted in its challenge to the U.S.-led unipolar world.

The attempt to weaken Russia in the war in Ukraine, though, may be having the ironic effect of strengthening China’s role in an emerging multipolar world.

An unprecedented sanctions regime was intended to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and to prevent it from executing that invasion. It has not only failed to accomplish that goal; it also has had the unintended consequence of pushing Russia closer to China. Sealing Russia off from western markets forced Russia to look east to China, India, the Eurasian community, and a global community of sanctioned nations. So the sanctions regime has in fact hastened the advent of multipolarity, as well as strengthened China’s position abroad.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are “in constant communication.” And on March 20, Xi arrived in Russia for talks that are aimed, in part, to “reaffirm the special nature of the Russia-China partnership.”

On December 13, Xi promised that China “will work with Russia to extend strong mutual support on issues concerning each other’s core interests, and deepen practical cooperation in trade, agriculture, connectivity and other areas.” A week later, Xi said that China is “ready to build up strategic cooperation with Russia, providing each other with development opportunities and remaining global partners for the benefit of our countries…” The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that “Any attempt to stop China and Russia from marching forward is doomed to fail” and that “China and Russia will deepen exchanges at all levels, and promote China-Russia relations and cooperation in all areas to a higher level…”

Russian-Chinese trade has increased dramatically. In his recent address to the Federal Assembly, Putin said that “the Russian economy has embarked on a new growth cycle. Experts believe that it will rely on a fundamentally new model and structure. New, promising global markets, including the Asia-Pacific, are taking precedence…” He promised that Russia “will expand promising foreign economic ties and build new logistics corridors. … This will, in part, allow us to considerably expand our ties with Southeast Asian markets.”

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