It can hardly passed anyone by that the Kremlin’s reply to American seizure of Russian diplomatic assets in the United States was unusually though, 755 US diplomats are to leave Russian soil. The alleged Russian interference through elaborate hacking in the American Presidential Election, bringing Donald Trump into office, has yet to be proven, even though it is more or less regarded as a fact by opponents to President Trump, especially due to some contacts with Russians supposedly in possession of information harmful to Hilary Clinton. However the actions taken by the Trump administration hardly speaks for the President being held in a Russian leash. On the contrary the Trump administration has done quite to opposite to what was promised during the election campaign, and has rather pursued a Clintonian discourse in it’s relations towards for instance Russia, triggering what can be seen as a whole out economic war, and in it´s approach towards Syria. That said, the administration is under tense pressure from the Congress, the latter hardly interested in a political defrosting with the Kremlin, and it seems that of lately a slight stepping down in Syria can be seen, with American support for so called moderates in Western Syria being cut, at least officially. Instead the United States are putting more emphasis on ramping up support for the predominantly Kurdish SDF in their battle against ISIS in the eastern part of the country. The SAA supported by Iran, Russia and Hezbollah has also made significant gains this summer against both Western backed militants as well as ISIS, the tide has definitely swung in Damascus favor. However the American geopolitical situation is becoming increasingly mired. Supporting the Kurds puts Washington even more at odds with Ankara, relations being already strained after the attempted coup against Turkish President Erdoğan last year. The latter is in turn also a vigilant supporter of Qatar in their collision with the United States foremost ally in the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia, and has placed troops in Doha. Russia’s decision to intervene in Syria has without a doubt made things quite complicated for those that wished to depose of al-Assad.
However, as if the situation in the Middle East wasn’t complicated enough without Russia’s active interference, the breakdown in relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, in part due to the failed regime change in Syria and Iran’s increased influence in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen the overall situation in the Middle East is becoming of increasing concern for not only Riyadh and Tel Aviv but also Washington. On the Korean peninsula the North Korean nuclear capability appears more advanced than previously expected. Grave problems no doubt. These are however just short term problems for the current American administration.
China’s emergence as a global player to be reckoned with is of greater importance in the long term, even so than today’s Russia. What is of grave concern to the United States is that its long term financial hegemony and geopolitical position as the world’s dominant power is under threat. It is from this perspective that we must see the latest sanctions against Russia, sanctions that are being heavily questioned by allies to the United States. The Nordstream Pipline 2 is the primary target for these sanctions. However, these sanctions are not only damaging for Russian interests, but also for the EU. This puts America at odds with it’s European allies while saber rattling is heard in Eastern Europe with a military build up due to the clash of Western and Russian interests after the Western supported coup in Kiev back in 2014, Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula and the subsequent War in Donbass. However, why should Russia be interested in a military push towards the Atlantic coast in a Cold war scenario? That the Baltic countries are on their toes is understandable given their history and Estonia as well as Latvia have significant numbers Russian speaking inhabitants. There is however far less risk of a scenario similar to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea. Firstly, that action was due to what Russia perceived as a direct threat towards Russian interests on behalf of the West, for instance given that a pro-Western government took over in Kiev after a coup politically supported by Washington and Brussels, the majority of the population on the Crimean peninsula being Russian speakers and for most of all, being the home port of the Russian Black Sea Navy in Sevastopol. The latter from a historical perspective bitterly contested both during the Crimean War in the 1850’s against Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire as well as during the Second World War against Nazi Germany, struggles that are still very much part of Russia’s historical heritage of today. If Russia would use the same tactics as in the Crimea to expand it’s territory westwards on behalf of the Baltic nations, this would however trigger paragraph 5 in the NATO agreement, the paragraph of collective defense, and thus cause an all out conflict with NATO i.e. World War 3. Destabilizing activities could be used though, such asymmetric warfare and political impact actions, “should the need arise”. Russia’s economy is however very much dependent on it’s energy sector, just like Iran’s. Thus Russia is very vulnerable to low oil prices and much more interested in trading with the EU than territorial expansionism westwards, even though a Europe dependent on for instance Russian gas undoubtedly would be very susceptible to political pressure from the Kremlin. As such the unilateral American foreign policy is not just damaging to Russia’s economy but also Europe’s and using it’s foreign security policies to meet domestic economic interests, such as imposing new sanctions upon Russia in order to sell more expensive American energy to Europe, is very damaging for the United States in the long run if Washington is to keep it’s relations with the EU intact. Given Russia’s current status as the black sheep of Europe, the Kremlin’s interests have understandably been increasingly directed eastwards, to China.
The latter has experienced an economical development of unparalleled proportions and has gone from just a regional power to a global one. In fact, not only does China’s economic development begins to rival that of the United States, but Beijing’s military capabilities as well. China has declared that in 2035 there will be a Chinese Naval Task Force on each of the world’s oceans in order to safeguard Chinese interests and recently a naval facility was opened in Djibouti. A naval arms race is on, not entirely dissimilar from that of Great Britain and Imperial Germany before WWI. America’s relations with it’s old ally Pakistan has become increasingly soured after the American invasion in Afghanistan following 9/11, with Islamabad tightening it’s bonds with Beijing instead. Another old ally, the Philippines, has become increasingly Chinese orientated as well. As such, the United States seems to be loosing more allies than that it is gaining. The Pacific region is also of greater importance in the long perspective for America’s geopolitical interests than today’s Russia, Syria or Ukraine, and seeing old allies teaming up with Beijing is hardly a good sign of what to come.
As such it seems, even though the United States by far still is the undisputed power of the world, that there are dark clouds at the horizon. The unilateral ways that the United States have shown after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 more bear the resemblance of an empire on the way of meeting it’s swansong rather than an empire on the rise in accordance with Pax Americana. As such the new sanctions against Russia, the loosing of allies and the erratic behavior in the Middle East brings to mind the actions of British Empire after the Second World War, for instance Anthony Eden’s politically ill fated endeavor at the Suez in 1956. Washington really must ask itself whether it want’s to be seen as an ally or a bully? If hawkish political elements at the Capitoleum are allowed to have their way, the chances are that the things that made America great will be just something to be remembered form the pages of history as Pax Americana is being challenged.