Russia-China Rapprochement Against the USA

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The actions of great powers in international relations are generally discussed together with the theories of hegemony and different theoretical approaches are used when examining whether they are rational in decision-making processes. The USA, which struggled for world hegemony against its rival, the Soviet Union, in the bipolar system of the Cold War period, was generally considered as a dominant power that made rational choices and forced its rivals to act irrationally. In this context, many crises such as the Cuban Crisis and the U-2 Crisis during the Cold War were regarded as an irrational behaviour of the Soviet Union, and even the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War was presented as Japan’s irrational action. It was told to the world as “revenge of the attack of Pearl Harbor”.

The insistence of the USA that it acted rationally continued in the post-Cold War period, and it took many years for them to admit that there were no chemical weapons in Iraq, which USA occupied in 2003, and they had made a mistake. Similarly, according to the claims of the USA, in the first quarter of the 21st century, the world is being dragged into total war due to the “supposed” irrational behaviour of actors such as Russia and China, who challenge it within the scope of their search for multipolarity. As a matter of fact, in the process leading to the First World War, the Prussian Otto von Bismarck warned that “One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans.”.[1] Today, the USA claims that such an irrational behaviour is exhibited by Russia’s “harmful/aggressive” actions in Ukraine, Crimea, South Caucasus and other Asian regions. The Washington administration makes the same warnings against China. Accordingly, China acts “irrationally” by engaging in “dangerous” military activities in the southern and eastern seas, and especially in the Taiwan Strait, and this situation opens the door to a global war.

In today’s multipolar order, the USA continues to act with the assumption of the world’s only hegemon power and rational actor model. Because, US President Joe Biden, who published an article in the Wall Street Journal before the Biden-Putin meeting, which is expected to take place in Geneva on June 16, 2021, said that “Along with the European Union (EU), We stand against threats of Russia’s aggressive attitude in Ukraine, and Europe in particular”. Again, in the draft of the joint statement will be accepted at the US-EU Summit, where Biden will attend next week, “We are in agreement in our approach to Russia in principle. We will be decisively responding to the negative behaviour and malicious actions of this country.” statements are indicated. In addition, the draft declaration, which was learned to be prepared and sent to Washington for approval by Brussels, included a call for “consultation and cooperation in the face of problems that may arise as a result of China’s similar actions”.[2]

Beijing argues that the US exhibits extreme “hostility towards China” and acts with ideological biases. According to Beijing, the US stance on the human rights issue and its actions targeting China in the Indian Ocean are completely unjustified and have turned into paranoia. Similarly, Moscow claims that the policies of the USA have come to a dead end in every region of the world, and it has suffered a “hysterical fit” stemming from its powerlessness and helplessness. According to Russia, as a result of the defeats in many parts of the world, the USA has started to act with the reflexes and hysteria of the Cold War period.

As in the Cold War period, the US’s ambitions to bring the world under its hegemony cause comments that Russia and China are starting to get closer. In fact, the current structure of the international community, in which the hegemonic ambitions of the USA are strongly felt and put under pressure, forces Moscow and Beijing to act together. The incapable of the US-led NATO to protect its allies, especially in Eastern Europe, and the increasing Russian pressure on Ukraine and Georgia in the first quarter of the 21st century not only showed the failure of the US in its European policies; At the same time, this situation led Washington to display a more aggressive attitude towards Moscow.

The failure of the USA in its Asian policies caused that Russia’s inclusion in the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict as a “guarantor and barrier power” to consolidate its position in the South Caucasus. This failure has been carried to a further level with Russia’s military-security cooperation with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in the recent period. For this reason, the USA wants to oppose Russia by shifting its forces in Afghanistan to Central Asian countries. On the other hand, China’s military-security interventions in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Myanmar, Taiwan and other regional states in Central Asia and South Asia, have been developments that have increased the US’s “anti-China” and aggression intentions.

According to neo-realist theories in international relations, defensive policies of states emerge as a result of the aggressor state’s geographical approach to itself and increasing aggression intention. Therefore, the USA will increase its power in the close side of both Russia and China, respectively, through NATO and QUAD. In fact, Russia and China follow an aggressive realist behaviour in their close circles and a defensive realist behaviour against the USA. The convergence of Moscow and Beijing on a defensive line increases the aggression intention of the Washington administration. Therefore, possible aggressions that will drag the world into total war are not primarily through the military-security moves of Russia and China in their close sides; It can be explained mostly through the containment and pressure strategy that the USA intensifies against Russia and China in its far periphery.

[1] “Will the South China Sea Spark the Next Global Conflict?”, The Diplomat, https://thediplomat.com/2021/05/will-the-south-china-sea-spark-the-next-global-conflict/, (Erişim Tarihi: 07.06.2021).     

[2] “Biden’dan Putin Çıkışı”, Milliyet, https://www.milliyet.com.tr/dunya/bidendan-putin-cikisi-6518736, (Erişim Tarihi: 07.06.2021).     


ANKASAM Asya-Pasifik Uzmanı