How to avoid war with Russia and China

Click to enlarge. Source: The Sun.

The way for the United States to avoid a shooting war with China and Russia is to unilaterally stop waging economic, diplomatic and covert war against those two countries, and to stop positioning offensive military forces near their borders.

I use the word “unilaterally” for two reasons. One is that we the American people get no benefit from our government’s Cold War against these two countries. Therefore it costs us nothing to give it up.

The other is that the leaders of these two countries are not going to negotiate with us because the U.S. government has proved itself, in a Russian phrase, “not agreement capable.”

The U.S. government has broken agreements under both Democratic and Republican admininstrations.  President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker promised President Mikhail Gorbachev that, if he agreed to the reunification of Germany, the NATO alliance would not expand one inch eastward.  This agreement was broken by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.  

President Obama signed a formal agreement, along with five other countries, to lift economic sanctions against Iran, in return for Iran’s accepting restrictions on their nuclear development program.  This was a sacrifice on the part of Iran, which looks to nuclear energy as a source of power when the oil runs dry.  It cost the USA nothing.

Even so, President Trump canceled the agreement, and President Joe Biden says he will not reinstate it unless Iran accepts additional restrictions.  But why would the government of Iran trust the USA?  Why would China or Russia?

War hawks argue that President Vladimir Putin is a new Adolf Hitler, who intends to conquer the former Soviet republics first, the former Soviet satellite states next, and, after that, who knows?  I don’t see any evidence of this.  I don’t see any evidence of Russian troops having a permanent presence in any country where they’re not wanted.

Russian “volunteers” helped the Russian-speaking secessionists in Donetz and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine.  But President Putin has ruled out annexing these regions to Russia.  He wants them to remain as part of Ukraine, but with autonomy to shield their people from extreme Ukrainian nationalists and neo-Nazis.

Russia did annex Crimea, but most Crimean residents are Russians and Crimea is the long-time location of a vital Russian naval and military base.  

If Russia was interested in reconquering former Soviet republics, it would have had a perfect excuse to do so in 1991.  Georgia attacked Russian troops in a neighboring territory, and Russians responded by occupying all of Georgia in a swift five-day war.  But then the Russians withdrew.  

If Russian troops had remained in Georgia, or if Russia invaded Ukraine proper, the result would be a quagmire war, similar to Russia’s war in Afghanistan.  I think Russian leaders have learned from experience, even if U.S. leaders have not.

Russia is the only nation that is on a par with the United States in nuclear weapons.  The number of nuclear weapons and danger of nuclear war  was considerably reduced by means of a number of treaties, and by the end of the 20th century, the USA and Russia were on a path of mutual nuclear disarmament.  

The cancellation of the anti-ballistic missile agreement by President G.W. Bush and the Open Skies and Intermediate Range Nuclear Weapons Treaty by President Trump changed this trend.  President Trump wanted to cancel the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, the last barrier to resumption of the nuclear arms race.  Thank goodness President Biden extended the treaty.

As for China, any government that wants diplomatic relations with China and any corporation or other organization that wants to do business in China has been required to state that it recognizes the Beijing government as the sole legitimate ruler of China, including Tibet, Xinjiang and Taiwan.  

This has been true for decades.  President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger agreed to this in 1972.  President Jimmy Carter followed through in 1978 by severing formal diplomatic relations with the government on Taiwan.

China is now forcibly assimilating the Tibetans and Muslim Uighurs into Han Chinese culture.  China claims (but has not tried to exercise) the right to rule Taiwan.  

I feel sorry for the Tibetans and Uighurs, and I would hate to see Taiwan’s successful democracy wiped out.  But the question is: What can the United States realistically do to help the Tibetans, Uighurs and Taiwanese?

 I remember how I completed my basic military training in 1956 at the time the Hungarians rose up against Soviet rule, while the U.S. government stood aside.   I felt relieved, and also ashamed of being relieved.

But could the United States have successfully intervened against the Red Army?  Such intervention might have led to an all-out war in Europe or maybe even nuclear war.  Would the Hungarians have been any better off?  

The same questions apply to Taiwan, except that, in the case of Taiwan, they are only hypothetical questions.  The Beijing government would rather have a flourishing Taiwan than the ruins of a Taiwan battlefield..

I do think China and, to some extent, Russia are threats to the United States, but not in the way our leading politicians and journalists say.

The threat of China is that it may become the world’s leading economic power, with the power to set the rules for the world economy.  The Chinese government during the past 30 years has moved from success to success; the U.S. government from failure to failure.

Increasing number of the world’s peoples are coming to see authoritarian China and Russia as better role models that the supposedly liberal, democratic USA.  

This isn’t something that can be fixed by military means.  We US Americans need to rebuild our institutions and our economy, and this requires a commitment that goes beyond the current administration.


Our Man of Many Messes: Biden, one year in by Patrick Lawrence for The Scrum.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are ruthless authoritarians, but they also are adults with a sense of reality.  This hasn’t been true of any U.S. President since George H.W. Bush, nor is it true of the majority of Congress and the Washington press corps today.  President Joe Biden is as bad as his immediate predecessors and Patrick Lawrence sums up why.

Strategic Ambiguity and the Risk of War Over Ukraine by Ralph Clem and Ray Finch for War on the Rocks.

Two military experts tell how both the USA and Russia are stepping up their shows of military force in the Black Sea and elsewhere, and the growing danger of collisions or inadvertent weapons release.  Neither side has made its intentions clear.  This creates a danger that one side will think the other is attacking or preparing to attack when it isn’t, or that it is bluffing when its threat is serious.

Washington Prepares to Fail in Ukraine by Douglas MacGregor for The American Conservative.

Another military expert explains that Russia has a lot less money to spend on its military than the USA does, but it has a more effective fighting force, especially on its home ground.

Protecting the Nazis: The Extraordinary Vote of Ukraine and the USA by Craig Murray.

Many accounts of the Ukraine crisis begin with Russian support of Ukrainian secessionists in 2014.  But the real beginning was a U.S.-backed coup which overthrew an elected government and brought neo-Nazis into the Kiev government.

 That’s why Ukraine and the USA were the only countries to vote against a United Nations condemning the glorification of Naziism.  

Why does the West think China wants global hegemony? by David P. Goldman for Asia Times.  [Hat tip to Steve from Texas]

The idea that the Chinese have historically had of themselves is that they are the center of the world, and the world should come to them and pay tribute.  For much of recorded history, this has actually been true; China historically has been the world’s leading manufacturing center and economic power, and the final destination for the world’s gold and silver coins.  That’s why they have never been interested in overseas empire.

2021 Letter by Dan Wang for The Secure Transport of Light.

Dan Wang is a technology and industry analyst now living in China.  This newsletter is mainly devoted to an account of his experience of the diversity of China, whose individual provinces are as populous as individual European countries.  

He remarks on how China has the basic capacity to perform its basic functions, such as maintaining infrastructure or fighting epidemic disease, and the USA no longer does.  

He also remarks on self-harming U.S. policies, such as economic sanctions against individual Chinese firms.  The result is that the Chinese firms, cut off from access to U.S. technology, are forced to develop technological capability on their own.

Beijing casts a wary eye on the Metaverse by N.S. Lyons for Unherd.

Beijing Eyes the Metaverse by N.S. Lyons for The Upheaval.

Chinese and US Americans not only live in different mental worlds, they many soon live in different virtual realities.  The Chinese are developing their alternative to Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse, despite strong misgivings about escapism and Internet addiction.  The two versions of his article are different, but overlap.

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2 Responses to “How to avoid war with Russia and China”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    I don’t see a big chance for real war with the US from either of these countries. There’s no benefit in such a war to any possible participant. It is not impossible for us to stumble into such a war, tho I consider it unlikely. It would require either Russia or China to greatly overreach its power. I don’t see us going to war over eastern Ukraine.

    Invading the Baltic states? Yeah that would do it. NATO treaty and all. REALLY stupid. Even if the other NATO members are not as militarized as the US, they still constitute a significant force on their own. It would have to be a gamble that the West would fight but fight too hard.

    China would have to be stupid to invade Taiwan. The result would be 60% of the world’s chip manufacturing capacity in rubble and it would cost them their best troops and a fair part of their air and naval forces. That’s even if the US did not get directly involved and only offered Taiwan logistical and intelligence support.

    It is possible the AUKUS alliance, Japan, a few minor players, and maybe even India could become involved in some way and they’d be an international pariah to most of the rest of the developed world. Taiwan is not the only country fearful of China’s growing power. Such an alliance would spell certain defeat for China.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mickmar21 Says:

    It kind of feels like the calm before the storm to me. Eerie similarities to the preludes to the previous world wars and the impotence and arrogance of leaders as they posture.

    Liked by 2 people

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