In this excerpt from The Russia-China Axis: The New Cold War And America’s Crisis Of Leadership authors Douglas E. Schoen and Melik Kaylan argue that only a rebirth of American global leadership can combat the growing threat from the Russian-Chinese axis.
It was a dramatic, even spellbinding, scene. A Russian honour guard stood at attention and martial music played as the jetliner taxied into Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport.
As millions of Russians watched live on television or at their computers, seemingly every cameraman and print reporter in the country jostled for position — something like when the Beatles arrived at Idelwild Airport.
And then, finally, the sighting: Xi Jinping, China’s new president, touched Russian soil for the first time.
The hype didn’t end at his arrival. Those millions of Russians continued to watch live as Xi went directly to the Grand Kremlin Palace, where, for the first time in memory, Russian cavalry units greeted a visiting dignitary. They watched as Russian president Vladimir Putin greeted Xi warmly.
They watched as Xi’s glamorous wife, a renowned singer and actress, carried herself with poise and elegance. The day played out on television almost like a royal wedding. And in many ways, it was. The pomp reflected reality: China and Russia have increasingly become devoted to each other.”
Said Putin: “Russian-Chinese relations are a crucial factor of international politics. Our trade is growing, both countries are involved in large humanitarian projects, and all of that serves the interests of the Chinese and Russian people.”
“The fact that I will visit Russia, our friendly neighbour, shortly after assuming presidency is a testimony to the great importance China places on its relations with Russia,” Xi told Chinese journalists before departing. “The two sides have had closer strategic coordination on the world stage.” Putin agreed: “The strategic partnership between us is of great importance on both a bilateral and global scale.”
The Russian-Chinese partnership, Putin added, was “characterised by a high degree of mutual trust, respect for each other’s interests, support in vital issues.” It was “a true partnership,” and Russian-Chinese relations were “the best in their centuries-long history.” Xi spoke of the two nations as close friends who treat each other with “open souls.” He even expressed his love of Russian literature and culture.
What’s happening here?
Russia and China, suspicious neighbours for centuries and fellow Communist antagonists during the Cold War, have been drawing closer and closer together because of a confluence of geostrategic, political, and economic interests. The overwhelming evidence suggests that an unprecedented partnership has developed.
The world is seeing the formalization and strengthening of a historic new alliance — a Russia-China Axis that presents the leading national-security threat to the United States in this young century, against which we seem almost wilfully unprepared. Few appreciate the full nature of the threat; far fewer are even aware of it.
Some who are, such as journalist Joshua Kurlantzick, see the Russia-China cooperation as part of an adverse trend for democratic governance, which is losing ground around the world to autocracy. But the significance of the Russia-China Axis is even broader.
Russia and China now cooperate and coordinate to an unprecedented degree — politically, militarily, economically — and their cooperation, almost without deviation, carries anti-American and anti-Western ramifications. Russia, China, and a constellation of satellite states seek to undermine American power, dislodge America from its leading position in the world, and establish a new, anti-Western global power structure.
And both Russia in Eastern and Central Europe and China throughout Asia are becoming increasingly aggressive and assertive, even hegemonic, in the absence of a systematic US response — not withstanding the Obama administration’s “strategic pivot to Asia.”
For now, the most obvious example of American impotence is the Russian repossession of Crimea in March 2014 and the seemingly inexorable preparation for further territorial claims in Ukraine. Here as elsewhere, Russia, with the quiet but clear backing of China, has called America’s — and the West’s — bluff, with little consequence.
In short, there is a new Cold War in progress, with our old adversaries back in the game, more powerful than they have been for decades, and with America more confused and tentative than it has been since the Carter years.
Excerpted with permission from The Russia-China Axis: The New Cold War And America’s Crisis Of Leadership by Douglas Schoen and Melik Kaylan. Excerpted with permission by Encounter Books. Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved.
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