Reviews | America must be strategic in the face of the war in Ukraine
At the same time, taming an interdependent world will require working across ideological lines. Washington should relax the promotion of democracy and human rights abroad and the Biden administration should refrain from its tendency to articulate a geopolitical vision that divides the world too sharply into democracies and autocracies. Strategic and economic opportunism will sometimes cause the United States to partner with repressive regimes; moderating oil prices, for example, may require collaboration with Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
Although the United States will continue to team up with its traditional democratic allies in Europe and Asia, many democracies around the world will avoid taking sides in a new era of East-West rivalry. Indeed, Brazil, India, Israel, South Africa and other democracies have remained inactive when it comes to responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia clearly represents the most immediate threat to geopolitical stability in Eurasia, but China, due to its emergence as a real competitor to the United States, still poses the greatest longer-term geopolitical challenge. Now that Russia and China regularly team up, together they could form a far more formidable opposing bloc than its Soviet ancestor. Accordingly, the United States should exploit opportunities to outrun Moscow and Beijing, like the quintessential realists Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, who in the 1970s weakened the communist bloc by driving a wedge between China and Russia. ‘Soviet Union.
The United States should play both sides. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine marks a fundamental break with the Atlantic democracies, but the West cannot afford to completely turn its back on Russia; Too much is at stake. As during the Cold War, Washington will need a hybrid strategy of containment and engagement. Russia is expected to remain in the penalty box for now, with the United States fending off Kremlin territorial expansionism and other aggressive behavior by bolstering NATO’s eastern flank and maintaining tough economic sanctions.
But Washington should also remain on the lookout for opportunities to engage Moscow. Its invasion of Ukraine has just made Russia an economic and strategic dependency of China; Mr. Putin will not appreciate being Xi Jinping’s sidekick. The United States should exploit the Kremlin’s unease about becoming China’s junior partner by signaling that Russia has a Western option.
In the event of a possible peace agreement in Ukraine allowing for a reduction in sanctions, Western democracies should remain open to careful and selective cooperation with Moscow. Areas of potential collaboration include pursuing nuclear and conventional arms control, sharing best practices and technologies on alternatives to fossil fuels, and jointly developing rules of conduct to govern military and economic activity in the Arctic. .
Russia needs China more than China needs Russia, so Washington should also seek to distance Beijing from Moscow. Beijing’s ambiguous response to the invasion of Ukraine suggests at least some unease with the economic and geopolitical disruption produced by Russian recklessness. Yet Beijing continues to benefit from Russian energy and strategic cooperation and from Mr Putin forcing the United States to focus on Europe, thus blocking the “American pivot to Asia”. Still, Washington should keep an eye out for opportunities to work with Beijing in areas of common interest — trade, climate change, North Korea, digital governance, public health — to improve relations, solve global problems and potentially weaken the country. link between China and Russia. .