What the Xi’s visit to Russia means

What the Xi’s visit to Russia means

un among the Republicans in America a battle is currently raging over the party’s foreign policy line. Those who describe the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine as a “regional conflict” want to break with the self-image that it is America’s destiny to assume leadership of the free world and, as a “shining city on the hill”, to inspire other states, as did Ronald Reagan formulated almost half a century ago. “Regional conflict” is a code for isolationism, which also goes back a long way in American history and currently appears in the guise of Trumpism.

Majid Sattar

Political correspondent for North America based in Washington.

The past few days have clearly shown that the war in Ukraine is many things, but certainly not a regional conflict. America’s role as a world power is being challenged not only from within but also from without. The geopolitical ramifications of the war are a blow to Washington: China enters the world stage and tries to challenge America’s role as a power of order: in Europe, in the Middle East and towards the so-called Global South (long neglected by the West). As much as President Joe Biden has been able to keep the West united in the face of Putin’s campaign, things in other regions of the world threaten to get out of hand.

Criticism of China’s “peace plan”

For Beijing war is a catalyst. State and party leader Xi Jinping must prevent Putin’s defeat, which he believes would serve the geostrategic interests of America, which is preparing for the real challenge: the conflict with China. Xi’s trip to Moscow expresses this symbolically. Putin, who noticed Xi’s initial maneuvers after the ambush a year ago, takes exactly this line: He accuses Washington of a “course of double containment of Russia and China” and thus forges a “marriage of convenience” from Washington’s point of view. It is still unclear how far Xi will go – whether Beijing will also provide direct military support to Moscow.

biden has made it clear that Xi would be crossing a line with such a move. Severe sanctions would result. Ultimately, it would result in an economic war in an already extremely fragile economic situation. So far, Washington has limited itself to exposing China’s motives: The ceasefire contained in Xi’s “peace initiative” would amount to a “ratification of the Russian conquest”. Beijing is concerned with drastically changing the international order, which is based on territorial integrity and state sovereignty.

For Xi, everything is connected to everything. It therefore not only occurs in Moscow as a “broker”. In the Middle East, he also drove America into the parade. While Washington was trying to bring Saudi Arabia and Israel closer, exploiting their rivalry with Iran, China brokered a détente between Riyadh and Tehran, achieving a diplomatic success.

End of American dominance?

With the normalization of relations between the two regional powers, which have been waging a proxy war in Yemen for years, Beijing wants to present itself as an honest broker and expose American leadership weaknesses. It’s a signal that goes beyond the Middle East to Africa and Latin America that the days of American dominance are numbered. Skepticism about America has been pronounced here and there for decades, not least because during the Cold War people felt they had been demoted to being an object in the struggle for spheres of influence. The “value-based world order” that was to be established under American leadership after 1989 is perceived by many in the Global South as hypocrisy.

Who about the loss of confidence Americas who has been talking since the fall of the Iron Curtain cannot remain silent about the Iraq war. Twenty years ago, Washington began the campaign against Saddam Hussein’s regime – on the basis of a lie. It doesn’t matter whether George W. Bush actually believed in the existence of weapons of mass destruction. The fact that Iraqis enjoy more freedom today is also not of great importance. America’s foreign policy establishment discredited itself.

And the damage cannot be underestimated: while counterfactual historiography is not a scholarly discipline, it can still be argued that Trump and the new isolationist wave never existed. America overextended its power in the name of the war on terror and lost leadership: it began with Putin’s interventions in Syria and the Ukraine. And now continues with Xi’s appearance on the world stage.

Things have slipped. In the West, there is a widespread opinion that everything is only right for America. Putin also relies on this when he talks about a “fairer, multilateral world order”, and Xi does so when he justifies China’s new global claim to power. In this way, both obscure the imperial behavior of their authoritarian systems of rule.

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