Sunday, March 5, 2017

Realpolitik





In 1970 Richard Nixon had plans to reach out to the Soviet Union and improve relations. Henry Kissinger convinced him to approach China instead. It didn’t matter which one was selected since the ultimate goal was to prevent China and the USSR from forming any security pacts. The enemy of my enemy, as they say. The result was d├ętente with China, improved relations, cultural exchange, economic development-all the things that let us see that our (former) enemies are human beings after all. What do you know?

This is generally called “Realpolitik.” Or more simply, pragmatism. If I can get my enemy to not threaten me by diplomacy, trade, and cooperation without all that war and propaganda and stuff, so much the better. Sun Tsu couldn’t have said it better.

People want to argue today that Russia is the enemy. OK. Russia is the enemy. They mind meld with our servers and leap onion domed buildings in a single bound. So was China in 1970. But Nixon thought of a better way to neutralize that threat. The friend of me is my friend.

So what about today? What have we actually accomplished by our jingoism? Well, Russia and China have drawn closer together. They have a mutual defense treaty and are conducting military exercises together. According to the IMF the Russian economy is now growing at 0.6%, so the sanctions have only succeeded in making them self-sufficient. They have asserted themselves as a major player in the middle-east, having made American intervention there irrelevant. They now belong to an economic block that represents about 40% of the world’s GDP and have their own clearing system, developed by China, making the IMF irrelevant. They are a major agricultural exporter. All because we want to resurrect an obsolete cold war mentality?

Sun Tsu would not be impressed.

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