The Sharpened Stick: The Future of American-Russo-Sino Relations

With the American Economy at the strongest it has ever been and no end in sight I think that it’s important to take a step back from all of this prosperity and focus on the geo-political implications of the growth of what I like to refer to as second tier Super Powers or regional Hegemony’s. I want to zero in on two in particular: Russia, and China; in what I believe are in a fateful dance which could culminate in what I’m calling the Sino-Soviet War. The following is a rough analysis of the variables that I see at play in what could become a very dangerous time for the non free world.

Russian Intransigence:

Russia intends on building up its military capacity rapidly despite the fact that sanctions and low crude oil prices have taken a hold of their economy. And according to Dr. Stephen J. Blank in a white paper entitled “POLITICS AND ECONOMICS IN PUTIN’S RUSSIA: WHAT DO THEY MEAN FOR THE U.S. ARMY?” he goes on to say that:

Currently, there is a huge defense buildup that aims to spend $716 billion between now and 2020 to make the Russian armed forces a competitive high-tech armed force, with 70 percent of its weapons being modern (whatever that category means to Moscow). Yet this system already has shown repeatedly that it cannot deliver the goods and that the attempt to remilitarize at this relatively breakneck speed (relative to other comparable powers) is failing to produce the weapons Moscow wants.[1]

Russia as recently as this week (11/24/14) proclaimed itself as the most powerful country in the world. However development is lagging terribly behind all advanced economies and a lot of middle income countries (MIC’s). in fact according to Dr. Zibigniew Brezezinski the OECD has:


projections by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for the year 2020 (that) envisage not only Chinas gross domestic product as approximately four times larger than Russias, but with India ahead of Russia as well.[2]

When Russia and China signed an economic agreement earlier this year which basically stipulated oil to china for Russian rubles it was before the U.S. had applied sanctions in response to Russia’s illegal war in the Ukraine, and before the Russian separatist downed flight MH17 over Ukrainian airspace. This is extremely important from the Russian point of view since according to the World Bank, Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for the Russian Federation:


Russias economy is dominated by natural resource extraction under-taken by a few large corporations, a concentration reflected in its output and export structures and its fiscal dependence.[3]


And in fact it is dominated so much so by natural resources that Dr. Zibigniew Brezinski in the Washington Quarterly goes on to stipulate that:


No wonder that the World Bank reported in 2005 that fuels, mining products, and agriculture accounted for 74 percent of Russias total exports, while manufacturing accounted for 80 percent of Russias total imports.[4]


Russian Oil and Gas Gambit:

Russia has neo-imperial ambitions that include but are not limited to Russian dominance of the energy markets. In fact according to Robert Einhorn and Rose Gottemoeller “Russia is working actively to reinvigorate and expand its nuclear industry and its reliance on nuclear power in the decades to come. Russian technical and political benefits and opportunities under a 123 agreement”[5], And “These reform efforts are in line with Russia’s broader energy strategy—to expand Russia’s global role as an energy provider, along with Russian technical and political benefits and opportunities under a 123 agreement.”[6] An equally contentious area of conflict derives from the fact that Russia inherited a gas pipeline infrastructure that transports gas to Europe across territories that are now independent states, mainly Ukraine and Belarus. As Gazprom got locked into pricing conflicts with such transit states, it rapidly discovered that its own highly lucrative export to the EU could be held hostage. Deliveries of gas to Ukraine could, for example, not be shut down with- out also shutting down deliveries to EU member states. The conclusion that the transit states must be sidelined was done by building bypass pipelines such as the Nord Stream, which already transports gas directly from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany, and the South Stream, which is to transport gas from the Caspian Basin via the Black Sea to south-eastern Europe. Both Poland and the Baltic states responded vehemently to what they viewed as a project designed to shut down their energy supplies without disrupting the flow to Germany.[7]


So then when we see the combination of Russia invading Ukraine while simultaneously threatening the rest of Europe with artificial energy shortages these are part of “Russia’s neo-imperial project (that) no longer relies on Soviet-era instruments, such as ideological allegiance, military control, or the implanting of proxy governments. Instead, the primary goal is to exert pre-dominant influence over the foreign and security policies of immediate neighbors so they will either remain neutral or support Russia’s international agenda.[8]


Gazprom may have thought that LNG could be safely ignored. It is expensive and does not offer control to the extent that pipelines do. The shale gas revolution, or simply the “shale gale,” changed all that. Following years of massive investment by Qatar, in particular in export terminals for LNG, and by the United States in import terminals for the same, the United States suddenly was no longer in need of imported gas. With its import terminals standing idle, LNG was instead rerouted to Europe, where a gas glut emerged. Gazprom suffered doubly, both from a loss of market shares to the cheaper LNG and from having to agree to demands from its customers that oil-price linkage must give way to spot-market pricing.[9] And also according to Stefan Hedlund “…by far the greatest challenge both to Gazprom and to Russia is the arrival of “unconventional gas,” notably shale gas, which has caused a complete change of scenes.” [10]

Russia needs to accept that the environment that they operate in is not the same as the one the tsars or even the soviet autocrats maneuvered in. this begins with recognizing the overwhelming priority among a plethora of things that must be done is to diversify the economy. After 12 years of the Vladimir Putin-Dmitry Medvedev tandem, Russia’s economy depends more on hydrocarbons that it did in 1999. Russia now needs a price of somewhere between $110 and $130 per barrel of oil to balance its budget.1 If the price of oil were to drop to $80 per barrel (as of this writing it hovers around $60), the Reserve Fund would last 1 year.[11] However (t)he most serious obstacles are corruption and self-interest in the political system, educational and research institutions, and Russia’s epistemic communities.[12]


Chinese Ascendancy on the World Stage:


In the Soviet era Russia at least had an achievement gap with the rest of the world including china however the Soviet Union’s highly uneven achievements in education, science, and technology are being dissipated, and it will be exceptionally difficult to reverse the decline.[13] And …in the 1950s, the Chinese copied the Soviet Union’s education and science institutions quite closely. Yet in just 3 decades, the Chinese have overtaken Germany and Japan to rank second to the United States in publishing articles in international peer-reviewed scientific journals. Russian scientists in 2010 published about the same number of articles in international journals as they did in 1990.[14]


The previous section on Russia can be extrapolated to mean that though the size of the deal helps assure Chinese stability, the Russians may in the end, receive a raw deal in the exchange of oil for rubles with China. And with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ascendant in the region and much of Asia, and Africa this has the potential to cause much friction in the relationship between the two countries as regional Hegemonic status is jockeyed for in the coming years.


With over 10 million private cars today, China imported approximately 40 percent of its oil in 2005. By 2020, China is projected to have 120 million private cars and to import at least 60 percent of its oil. According to projections put out by the Energy Information Administration, that percentage would be closer to 75%, with only 3.5 million bpd being produced, while demand is supposed to reach 14.2(million bpd).[15] As Russia enters what is in all probability a recession in their economy due to sanctions, China will begin to cement the exact terms of their historic oil and gas agreement just as oil prices begin to ebb all throughout the world. This I find in particular will become a strong point of contention between the two powers. For you see as per the agreed upon terms of the initial contract the Russians will be paid in rubles. This means that a strong Dollar pegged Yuan will not fit the bill but instead a Yuan-Ruble conversion will take place further cheapening the price that China pays for Russian oil and gas.


(A)ccording to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), China’s oil demand will reach 14.2 million bpd by 2025. That same year, net imports are expected to reach 10.9 million bpd. China’s oil demand is already a significant factor in world oil markets. Over the past four years, China, the world’s second largest oil consumer behind the United States, has been the source of close to 40 percent of the total world oil demand growth over the past four years.4 With economic growth running at a rate of roughly nine percent per year China is no longer able to meet its own consumption requirements through its domestic production of oil and it is now being forced to search for oil elsewhere.[16]



Economic ties between Russia and China have undeniably played a major role in strengthening cooperation between the two, but there is an increasing ideological element to Sino-Russian relations. In spite of vastly different historical and cultural backgrounds, there are striking similarities between the maturing ideological foundations that underpin the two countries’ respective outlooks on the world and their global roles.[17]


China in my estimation will reach a critical mass and will attempt to “do something” about the issues of Formosa (Taiwan) and the Senkaku’s in Japan. Once all attempts have been frustrated and America’s resolve has been tested this will be an embarrassment for the PLA and they will need to do something to assert that they are still (as they believe) the most dominant actor in Asia… this I believe are the fruits of the Sino-Soviet war.


America: The Middle East: Bogged Down, or Free at Last?


The crossroads of the global oil trade lay principally in a tiny strip of water called the Persian Gulf. Here no less than eight(8) countries Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain; export their highly prized light sweet crude through this small channel of water. And though most are friendly countries, one; Iran, is an outright enemy of the United States. With Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons possibly coming to a head in the near future, the safety and reliability of this pristine waterway comes into question. And with the strait of Hormuz separating the Arabian peninsula and Iran by just fifteen miles it becomes all the more urgent to guarantee the safety of the resources which run through it. In short, a strategic answer is needed to address the amount of resources emanating throughout the region.

Action should be taken before a crisis breaks out in the region that would disrupt global oil supplies and place a heavy burden not just on the U.S. economy but  the global economy as a whole. The options are few. The Syrian civil war which is entering its third year of strife and has claimed in excess of 100,000 lives through both conventional and chemical weaponry. This situation (Syria) on its face may not seem like the most prudent place for America to flex its military might, after all Iraq is Syria’s next door neighbor. Syria also has competing factions in it who are all vying for a stake in a post Bashar al-Assad Syria. These parties include the Al-Nusra front, a hard line Islamist faction that is de facto Al-Qaeda branded; the Kurdish peoples of the north who already enjoy a level of autonomy which they have not seen in decades; and the Free Syrian Army numbering up to 80,000 strong which has General Idris as its de facto leader. There are also the Al-Assad supporters or ultra royalist as I like to call them that are the Baath party of Syria, and at their most hardcore are Fedayeen, and Hizbollah willing to become human shields to protect the al-Assad family, and Damascus at all cost. Not the most welcoming of situations. And though this may seem like a desperate situation that perhaps America should not stick its nose into considering the brutality of the Iraq war, it is these very things that cause me to suggest that the stakes are simply too high for not only the future of peace and stability in the Middle East and north Africa (MENA), but also the energy security of the United States and its allies, and it’s not without precedent.

Iraq war 1991

In 1991 George H. W. Bush was president of the United States and Saddam Hussein had just invaded Kuwait taking control of 1/5th of all oil in the world. George H. W. Bush wanted to act immediately, unilaterally, and without congressional approval but showing jurist prudence he consulted with congress before successfully repulsing Sadaam’s invasion of Kuwait, a U.S. ally. Iraq is invaded but  Sadaam is not toppled signaling a policy of deterrence rather than regime change. The war was over in less than 100 days with minimal casulties. However in a sign of miscommunication between the northern Iraqi Kurdish community and the United States an uprising is began with the hopes of establishing a unified autonomus Kurdish state. The U.S. withdraws and  Sadaam gases his own people in one of the worst chemical weapons attacks of the latter half of the 20th century. This act does not go unnoticed by the congress of the United States, as the Kurds to the north, and Shiites to the south are soon thereafter, through an act of congress, protected from Sadaam by a no-fly zone.

Iraq War 2003

After the attacks on the world trade center on 9/11 Afghanistan is soon thereafter invaded by the United States toppling the government of the Taliban and sending the perpetrator of those heinous acts Osama Bin Laden fleeing to Tora bora. In the 2003 State of the Union address to congress,then President George W. Bush; singles out Iraq, Iran, and North Korea an “Axis of Evil”. Soon thereafter Iraq is again invaded with this time the main goal of preventing Sadaam Hussein from using weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. or any of its allies. Regime change is also one of the goals and is completed in a matter of weeks after the start of the war in March 20th 2003. The oil ministry is captured relatively quickly in the outbreak of war by American and coalition forces and soon the southern Iraqi oil fields resume energy production for Iraq though not at full capacity. Ominously though soon after the toppling of Sadaam an al-Qaeda led Iranian backed insurgency begins in earnest for what would last a total of eight years. Some would say that it still continues under the banner of a group calling itself al-Qaeda in Iraq. This war along with the still lingering war in Afghanistan would sap much need blood and treasure from the United States with very little to show for it. Until May 2011 when Osama bin Laden (OBL) is finally killed in a compound outside of Abbotabad, Pakistan that he shared with his immediate family. It should be noted that several positive things came out of Iraq as well: a brutal dictator was executed along with his sons ending a reign which stretched across several decades. The Iraqi people were finally able to choose their own leaders in a representative democracy. And two key important things happen in the world of oil transit, two pipelines were built which stretched from the oil rich cities in the north of both Kirkuk and Mosul. These pipelines would extend to in the case of Mosul; Jordan and a port city in Israel, and the Kirkuk pipeline stretched to a port city in Turkey. Both of these pipelines end at the Mediterranean coast avoiding Syria completely. Keep this in mind when we begin to talk about the idea of pipelines in Syria later on.

Syrian War (2011- )

In Syria the “Arab Spring” began to take hold in early 2011 initially as peaceful protest. However soon after a deadly crackdown the mostly Sunni majority took up arms against the Alawite Shiite ruling minority and began to fight back. This back and forth continues to this day and as of the writing of this paper (9/21/13) there is an agreement between al-Assad ally Russia, and the United States to compile and eventually destroy all of Syria’s accounted for chemical stockpiles. The United States has introduced a resolution at the U.N. which would “Hold Syria to account” should the weapons not be destroyed by mid 2014 as per scheduled. This agreement doesn’t shouldn’t be construed as an out for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who has murdered tens of thousands of his own countrymen using conventional and chemical weapons. And as Secretary general Ban Ki Moon was recently quoted as saying, Assad should be “Held Accountable” for these monstrous acts. Also on the agenda it seems that Iran has initiated a charm offensive and has suggested that talks over a cease fire could possibly take place between Syria and the free Syrian army (FSA) in Geneva, Switzerland.


America: Russian Privateering in the Developing World:


When the United States unceremoniously dethroned Qaddafi, a dictator of unimaginable brutality, a people were finally free to choose their own destiny. And the Russians lost one of their largest arms smugglers in the region. After all it was Qaddafi who, with the help of the Russians, imported massive amounts of Kalashnikov rifles and rocket propelled grenades among other panoply of war. These were given to Qaddafi at a steeply discounted price. Qaddafi in turn sold these weapons to rebels and the governments which were trying to quell their rebellions at enormous markups. We know this because of the serial numbers that accompanied the weapons (as well as the story of Viktor Bout). By the time the 2000’s had come around war was endemic in western Africa (Sierra Leon, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire you name it), and Qaddafi had created his own veritable cottage industry. This cycle of weaponry for diamonds and gold came to a screeching halt when in the summer of 2011 Qaddafi was killed in a brutal manner by the people that he oppressed for over 40 years. This weapons vacuum which has yet to be completely filled by any one entity has left the Russians with few options to make up the surge the likes of which was found in Qaddafi, until Syria arrived.

Syria acts as one of the most successful conduits of Russian weapons systems and small arms since the end of the Cold War. By most estimates Bashar al-Assad has purchased in excess of $1 billion in weaponry from Russia since the wars beginning, as his economy lies in ruins. Numbers like this however are chump change when you consider the amount of possibly unfulfilled deliveries to countries such as Algeria which, as of 2009, had $5.2 billion in unfulfilled orders from the Russians this includes some of their most advanced air defense systems as well as Jet fighters. If this is any indication of how sales are going in Africa alone, business must be good indeed, though not good enough, since the Russians have since sent some of the same advanced air defense systems to the Syrians who are in the middle of a brutal civil war. The strategic interest in Tartus, a sea port, for the Russians can’t be discounted; however the amount of prestige that they have expended on Al-Assad could come at a price even heavier than the Russians can handle down the road.

They can find new end markets outside the North Africa and the Middle East (MENA) region however sanctions and emerging super powers such as China make that a difficult proposition. Russia recently stated as its goal to become the world’s largest arms supplier. And though statements such as that come as a welcome respite to African despots, guerilla insurgents, and petty tyrants, I’m sure that when that was read aloud in the West a collective rolling of the eyes was no doubt the first reaction in their respective capitals. Assessments aside, the current negotiations in the Security Council, for a use of force measure to be included in the currently debated resolution needs a proper amount of leverage an order to arm twist the Russians to agreeing to it. That’s why I propose that the U.S. in concert with its allies find a way to impede Russian arms sales not just in Syria, but throughout the world. As I mentioned earlier Algeria has $5.2 billion in pending orders with the Russians if they can somehow be persuaded to cancel, postpone, or possibly even renege on prior agreements and buy European weaponry, that would go a long way in this arm twisting business with minimal effort. One point of cooperation which may convince the Russians to cut their losses is the proposed North Korean-South Korean Pipeline or PNG. This pipeline would supply gas to South Korea from Russia via North Korea. Its worth is estimated at $100 billion dollars. Another area of cooperation that the Russians are most assuredly interested in is the security for the upcoming 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. The latest reports from the Caucasus region are that Islamic extremist plan on disrupting the Olympic Games by any means necessary. By providing adequate security in concert with the Russians we can build trust amongst one another and also help further quell Islamic extremism in a region which is rife with it. These are just some of the examples of how U.S.-Russian cooperation can be fruitful for both sides.

The conclusion is this: Russian must not be allowed to make a mockery of the international order, indeed international norms and common law. If we hope to prevent al-Assad’s mass graves and prevent the sort of internecine conflict that we’ve seen in Sierra Leone for instance a la Qaddafi we must be prepared to confront the Russians at all stages of statecraft and convince the world to reject Putin’s autocratic bent in favor of a more prescient and tangible American path. While at the same time it’s also important to understand that cooperation is possible between the two powers but only when by working hand in hand and not pitting one against the other can we make the world a safer place for all of God’s creations.

America: Russia in Ukraine: Choices and Consequences

One thing is for certain there are indeed Russian forces on a third “Southern” front in Ukraine, and these forces consist of tanks, heavy artillery, and multiple rocket launchers. The following is a list of choices and the consequences of these choices which the President, in my opinion, should keep in mind when deciding his next move.

The first choice is that he can reassure NATO allies of the U.S.’s commitment to their security under the NATO umbrella and help the Ukrainian army monetarily an order to have them stand up and defend themselves against the Russian incursion.

This choice is probably the most tempting and least chaotic of the choices in the short term but is flawed on two principles. The first is that by not directly engaging Russia with forces on the ground, or in the air this avenue seeks to only embolden the Russian threat to other eastern European countries (including Georgia) and create space for China to begin “settling” it’s claims on south china sea islands, as well as Taiwan. This option is also flawed since by emboldening Russia we are drawing China, and Russia closer together and allowing for other nation states to be scared into seeing them as a viable alternative to the American world order. This option pulls it’s weight however since were able to show that we will protect NATO allies by not actually putting anything on the line (besides money) also by taking a wait and see approach were able to test Russian resolve as they engage in battle against a far inferior but scrappy nonetheless opponent in their own backyard.

The Second Choice: provide American weaponry and support to the Ukrainian government.

The Problem: this choice is flawed on multiple fronts since by providing weaponry to the Ukrainian’s from the U.S. or even from other allies this precipitates a long held belief in the west about the Ukraine that there is a “hole” in their “weaponry pocket”. That is to say whatever we give them expect to end up fully intact and capable in the hands of Russia, China, and anyone elese who has the funds to acquire such technology. And even when not fully functional from battlefield use, these machines of war can be reversed engineered by the Russians and Chinese and could then end up on future battlefields against the west.

The Third Choice: Bomb Russian positions with U.S. drones and warplanes.

The Problem: This choice requires the sort of intestinal fortitude that few in Washington currently have. This choice would have the dimensions of a game of chicken to it. This is because the Russians have capabilities far beyond any enemy we have faced down since the end of the cold war including battleships in black sea ports. So by cherry picking what we would bomb there’s no guarantee that the Russians would likewise cherry pick only drones, and planes, and besides this idea puts our fighting men and women at great risk for little reward. Though it is a choice that truly displays the resolve of our capabilities to our allies throughout the world, however there are better less dangerous ways of doing this.

The Fourth Choice: Deploy a NATO contingent to Kiev.

The Problem: this choice to me actually seems like a good idea since we could display resolve and comfort allies, without actually doing anything. Though by drawing a line in the sand for Russia to cross we are daring them to siege it, the reckoning on this idea should be that if they were willing to go all the way to Kiev now, that means they were going to attack it anyway so it’s a good thing that were already here.

The Choice: do nothing and call for Russia’s ouster from the U.N. Security Council before the opening of the U.N. General Assembly in September.

The Problem: this choice though lacking in muscularity is actually a robust version of diplomacy. This is a choice that I can get behind if only because Russia shot MH-17 out of the sky and is bound to do something similar between now, and the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, though I can’t say that this choice, and this choice alone will comfort our allies in the region.

The Choice: Hold NATO exercises on Russia’s border with fellow NATO allied countries.

The Problem: this is a choice that the administration has already made and though I can’t see it paying dividends of peace, I do agree with the strategy if only to buy some time in the short and long term.

America: An Indictment of Russia

Since the early 2000’s an ascendant Russia has gone out of its way to make life harder for the United States anyway it knew how. The following is an indictment of the Russian federation and their leadership when it comes to their engagement with the world and how they have manipulated situation after situation to strengthen their own hand and leave in their wake death destruction and questions of why these things are being done by supposed “responsible partners”:


  • In the early 2000’s throughout to Col. Qaddafi’s ouster then President Vladimir Putin supplied small arms and ammunition to the Libyan dictator. He then in turn supplied these weapons to rebels in Sierra Leone and to Liberian dictator Charles Taylor during their respective civil wars; for conflict diamonds. These wars in turn killed and maimed millions and displaced millions more.


  • Vladimir Putin has been accused of assisting Victor Bout in his arms sales around the world which totaled in excess of $1 Billion. These arms later fueled tensions and wars in Kashmir, Thailand, armed the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and started wars in Central African Republic, and Congo among others.


  • Vladimir Putin has been accused of funneling monies and arms to the sons of Col. Qaddafi and fomenting terrorism in Nigeria, and Mali via Boko Haram, violence in Central African Republic, and South Sudan, Uganda, as well as the conflicts in the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Somaliland, and Kenya).


  • Vladimir Putin it has been proved supplied Russian made S-300 surface to air missiles to the Bashar al-Assad regime in which helped to further strengthen his hold on the country, and give him the confidence that he needed an order to gas his own people indiscriminately with Saran and VX nerve agents.


  • In the summer of 2008 Vladimir Putin gave the go ahead to his forces to invade another sovereign country (Georgia) an order to prevent them from moving closer to their western allies, In violation of international law.


  • Under his direct orders Vladimir Putin had Aleksander Litvenenko Poisoned, and killed him with Polonium 210, an irradiated substance in London, a case for which still nobody has been brought to justice.


  • Also under his direct orders Vladimir Putin Poisoned Victor Luschenko a Ukrainian former President while he was campaigning against the Kremlin’s wishes to become President. No one has been brought to justice for this crime against humanity either.


  • In July of 2014 a Malaysian Airliner that had departed Holland en route to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was shot down by Russian backed Ukrainian Dissidents over eastern Ukraine killing all 298 on board.


When taken as a whole these actions prove that Vladimir Putin poses a grave risk to the international community and these actions must be taken as the way that new Russia acts. And since we’re dealing with a new potent and growing threat then it must be contained, indeed isolated as part of a larger vision to secure the international community against international terrorist like the Russians. That is why the only actions which make sense at this point are to declare Russia as an international sponsor of terrorism. And also to work with the UN to suspend at least temporarily if not permanently the Russian Federations Permanent seat with veto powers on the U.N. Security Council.

America: Courting Russian Isolation

Earlier in the year president Obama made an equivocation that he would “Court” isolation for Russia over its pariah status due to the crisis in Ukraine. Less than six months later he may finally be getting the opportunity to completely isolate Russia from the international community. With the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 by Russian equipped Ukrainian rebels using a Russian made SA-11 surface to air missile launcher. Russia has been coming tantalizingly close to becoming a pariah state without actually being designated so. That’s not to say that they have not done good things in the interim whether it be Iranian nuclear talks, Syria chemical weapons destruction, or even the timely supplying of Iraq with soviet made Sukhoi fighter jets. But when those 298 civilians in Malaysian air MH17 fell from the sky in a blazing inferno, well the tape on the entire newscasts speaks for itself.

The tragedy is worse enough be it on purpose or not but for Russian television to insist that Ukraine was aiming for President Vladimir Putin’s plane, but accidentally hit the Malaysian Air flight this to me is arrogance on the level of courting war. In 2008 Russia thought that it could turn war on and off with Georgia like a water faucet. But that war (which was began by the Russians) was not stopped by them but rather by the fast wheeling and dealing diplomacy of the Bush administration. So then now fast forward to immediately following the Sochi Olympics in 2014 and Russia intervenes in Ukrainian politics by sending in masked gun men to foment revolution amongst the mostly Russian speaking citizens of eastern Ukraine, and Crimea. Again Russia treats this war as though they can turn it on and off as they wish. I’m here to tell you today that Russia may be able to control their variables when it comes to starting a war, but nowhere by no one is it possible to control the variables that will end a war, at a place and time of their choosing.

So then the logical question then is what is next? Well for one the U.S. can start by sending in American Special Forces that will work alongside Ukrainian Special Forces to safely and quickly secure the crash site which stretches some five miles. They can also do well to secure a route of safe passage for the NTSB, FBI, and international organizations that need to get to the crash site to conduct investigations. After the wreckage has been secured and everyone of import no longer needs to be there we can then begin to gain the popular support which is needed to not only defeat the Russian incursion into Ukraine, but also to isolate Russia on the world stage. Russia as of late has become a State Sponsor of Terrorism. This represents a grave and growing threat to the United States of America and its allies. By labeling the Russian Federation a state sponsor of terrorism this will allow for the U.S. and its allies to impose stricter sanctions on Russia and its public private entities. This is the first step towards isolation of Mr. Putin and his allies, and the making of Mr. Putin into a pariah. The second step is to announce at the United Nations during the opening of the general assembly this summer that the United States along with its allies are going to be taking steps at the U.N. to, barring a change in leadership, remove Russia first temporarily then permanently from the U.N. security council.

I think that these are the most prudent steps that we can take short of war. Russia cannot and will not be allowed to shot down commercial airliners as it wishes. These are extremely dangerous times and with Russia actively engaging in preventing the U.S. from ameliorating the conditions in countries in the Middle East to Europe this is something than cannot and shall not be accepted. I pray for those that were aboard MH17 as well as their family members and I also pray that may God have mercy upon Vladimir Putin’s soul for equipping the Ukrainian dissidents with technology that can blow a Boeing 777 filled with close to 300 people out of the sky.

America:  Engagement or Rigidity

For its part America must wade into these difficult times with caution and a combination of carrots and sticks for all parties involved. Beijing’s increasing power and influence in Asia, and the arguably growing danger of a serious crisis emerging in the near to medium-term over volatile issues such as Taiwan, North Korea, and several territorial disputes along China’s borders.[18]  America must stand strong against possible aggression from all parties named, response to crises on periphery more important than at first observed, response to events crucial, must regain global respect for America, leave the big wars for the rest while we prepare for the big test, prepare for counterpoised organizations to the U.S. new world order, do not let others dictate American narrative, be prepared for parts of the world to be hostile to the U.S. for the long term, prepare for war but don’t initiate it, so long as U.S. maintains moral high ground domino effect is obsolete (Russia in Afghanistan). We should, however, prepare for large parts of Asia, and Africa to be in world conflict which will be Sino-Soviet in nature and will have absolutely nothing to do with U.S. China views itself as an aspiring yet nonaggressive great power, increasingly confident yet also acutely sensitive to domestic and external challenges to its stability and status. China’s leaders, and many ordinary Chinese citizens, possess a strong memory of the nation’s supposed historical victimization and manipulation at the hands of stronger powers. Thus, they are prepared to go to significant lengths to avoid the appearance of being weak and “giving-in” to great power pressures, or of engaging in predatory or manipulative behavior themselves. Chinese leaders also evince a very strong commitment to specific basic principles and core interests, especially those principles and interests associated with the defense of China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, both of which are related closely to national dignity. This viewpoint is apparently also shared by many ordinary Chinese citizens.[19]

North Korea is a victim of their own system, toxic alliances such as Syria, and possibly China will be a negative mitigating effect on North Korea as a whole. If there is no rapprochement with South Korea there could be much suffering in North Korea and eventual undoing from Sino-Soviet war. Expect for North Korean trend of celebrities engaging in politics to continue; expect mostly celebrities from Hollywood, and the American and European Political intelligentsia, to be disgruntled by new administration in U.S., will take to spying and openly soliciting foreign governments (besides North Korea) with expertise a la Edward Snowden, should not be a problem so long as U.S. has positive narrative.

In the end it will ultimately be up to America to chart its own destiny. We can be confrontational and get caught up in the Sino-Soviet sphere of conflict. Or we can take the high road and refuse to give into Russian, and Sino intransigence while simultaneously solving some of the world’s most dangerous issues such as the North Korean Question, Pakistani-Indian relations, and the Middle East. By not Kow Towing to pressures from either the Russian’s and their neo-imperial ambitions, or the ascendancy of a less than peaceful China, America can act as a beacon of light and a counter weight to these two very real, and significant second tier powers whose Hegemonic designs will eventually lead them to confrontation.









[1] Stephen J. Blank Politics in Putin’s Russia, POLITICS AND ECONOMICS IN PUTIN’S RUSSIA: WHAT DO THEY MEAN FOR THE U.S. ARMY? p. 7-8.


[2]  Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Putin’s Choice,” The Washington Quarterly, Vol. XXXI, No. 2, Spring 2008, p. 109.



Stephen J. Blank Editor December 2013 RUSSIAN ECONOMIC REFORM 2012: “DÈJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN” Steven Rosefielde p. 39.,World Bank, Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for the Russian Federation.


[4]  Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Putin’s Choice,” The Washington Quarterly, Vol. XXXI, No. 2, Spring 2008, p. 109.


[5] The U.S.-Russia Civil Nuclear Agreement

A Framework for Cooperation, Robert Einhorn Rose Gottemoeller, p.35, May 2008



[6] The U.S.-Russia Civil Nuclear Agreement A Framework for Cooperation, Robert Einhorn Rose Gottemoeller, p.35, May 2008

















[15] Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, “China’s Thirst for Oil Gets into Top Gear,” Alexander’s Gas & Oil Connections, volume 9, issue # 20, 14 Oct 2004, BBC News, 1 October 2004, <> (7 Dec 2004) and “Jane’s Sentinel Security Assessment,” 12 January 2005.


[16] . China’s Oil Rush in Africa,, Cindy Hurst, p.3, July 2006


[17] Chinese Soft Power and Its Implications for the United States Competition and Cooperation in the Developing World, releveraging u.s. power amid sino-russian rapprochement Andrew C. Kuchins, p.118, editor

Carola McGiffert March 2009






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