- NATIONAL INTEREST - Sep 9, 2020 -
Foreign policy is the art of the possible, distinguishing between reality and fantasy. American policymakers need to recognize that Russia has separate interests that it will pursue irrespective of Washington’s wishes.
The United States is the world’s strongest nation. It has the largest, most productive economy. America’s military is peerless. The United States also enjoys unmatched “soft power,” with a globe-spanning culture and appealing values.
Nevertheless, the Trump administration’s attempt to run the world from Washington, treating allied states as vassals, has faltered. America’s most desperate adversaries, including Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, and Syria, have rebuffed U.S. pressure. And when pressed by the United States for support against Tehran European governments sided with the latter.
Perhaps most ominous are the growing if still limited ties between China and Russia. Tension between the two nations is real but antipathy to Washington binds them together. Although some analysts dismiss the importance and sustainability of the relationship, Thomas Joscelyn of the Foundation for Defense of Democracy contended: “the Xi-Putin partnership is arguably the most dangerous relationship on the planet today.”
There was nothing inevitable about cooperation between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Russian Federation. Relations between the Soviet Union and PRC sometimes were anything but friendly. Ideological differences joined nationalistic passions in 1956 after Nikita Khrushchev made his famous denunciation of Joseph Stalin. Bilateral relations rapidly deteriorated: in 1969 the two governments fought an undeclared border war for several months.