US has outmanoeuvred Russia in the great power game – is China next?
- The war in Ukraine has allowed a weakening US to reconsolidate its global power, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping there
- Next on the list is China, which the US has been baiting on Taiwan, followed possibly by Iran, against which a new alliance in the Middle East is being forged
The global power game is reminiscent of the scene from The Godfather where Michael Corleone, having taken the reins of the family business, decides to do away with all his enemies in one stroke.
From a geopolitical perspective, an intriguing moment came on April 25 when US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin said the US wanted to make Russia so weak it could never again invade another country. This stance wiped out the narrative that the US was merely helping Ukraine defend itself, making it clear the policy objective was much larger.
If successful, the US would not only have dealt with Russia, a formidable enemy, but – even better – could tell the Europeans that American actions to save Ukraine and, in that context Europe, came at a price: Europe’s support for American policies around the globe to consolidate US power.
What was playing out behind the scenes was the spectre of a fight, maybe even a war, to reinstall Western political and economic hegemony.
This is a finely tuned game of edging close to the limits, even balancing on the line, yet not crossing it, to test one’s adversary. China may be cornered. If it backs down it will be seen as weak. If it goes to war, especially if it launches a physical attack, it embarks on a military operation beyond its capabilities.
Should it launch some kind of hybrid warfare, it will be depicted as rocking the boat, destabilising international affairs and undermining economic globalisation, opening the door for economic sanctions.
Such an alliance might also be used to blindside Iran’s air defence in case of an attack to neutralise its nuclear programme. The Iranian tunnel system used to hide installations for its nuclear programme has been back in the global media spotlight, despite being known for some time.
Maybe the calculation is that a tough stance towards Russia, China and Iran will make North Korea more amenable to enter into negotiations.
There is no certainty that this line of thinking prevails among US strategists, but the coincidence of seemingly innocent circumstances is sufficient to hint that there is a deliberate policy explaining American postures.
Joergen Oerstroem Moeller is a former state secretary for the Royal Danish Foreign Ministry and the author of Asia’s Transformation: From Economic Globalization to Regionalization, and The Veil of Circumstance: Technology, Values, Dehumanization and the Future of Economics and Politics