South Asia presents itself as the ‘fault line’ to the east of which the United States is needling China while to the west, the US’s ‘target’ is Russia. The upshot of the summits of APEC, ASEAN and EAS is that Russia doesn’t figure as a significant power in the Asia-Pacific. Maybe, it never was a power in that region, but more so today than ever.
The US president Barack Obama chatted up his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on many things when they met in Honolulu for the APEC summit - except on Asia-Pacific. Medvedev is skipping the EAS summit in Bali.
Russia is experienced enough in the big-power tango to know that the US-China interdependency is too far advanced
for them to pit against each other in adversarial terms. If anything, the latest reports show that China still invests in US Treasury bonds and, conceivably, Obama is acutely conscious
of that himself amidst all the grandstanding.
Having been weaned in dialectical materialism, Russian scholars pay close attention to the wretched state of the US economy than we Indians do. Their experience at close quarters with the US style of diplomacy tells them that a lot of the noise that is coming out of the Asia-Pacific these days is actually bluster, whereas the US economy is in deep trouble
Russia is unmistakably at the receiving end of the US’s regional strategies in the Central Asian and Caspian regions and in the Middle East. The US-Russia reset is also in doldrums. Chinese commentators can perhaps return the compliment by sitting back and enjoying the bear-baiting.
The ‘loss’ of Syria will no doubt diminish Russia. Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean happens to be in Syria. The US is already ‘poaching’ into the Black Sea and it is no longer a Russian ‘lake’. To break out of the US’s ‘encirclement’, Iran becomes a critically important partner for Russia. But through the latest IAEA report, US cleverly torpedoed the Russian attempts to put the Iran nuclear issue back on the diplomatic track.
The US is trying hard to pin down Russia and China to their respective ‘regions’. Logically, in these circumstances Russia and China should work together. Of course, they do to some extent. On balance, however, China seems ‘more willing’. On Syria and Iran, China may follow the Russian lead.
Posted in Diplomacy.
– November 18, 2011