Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Re: the New Cold War 

I have to go with Pete on the Russia call (and with reader George H. A.), at least partially. Initially, I argued on the side of Mearsheimer that Russia would need to balance the rise of Chinese power to ensure their own borders and sovereignty, and would consequently side with the US and western allies. Closer examination, and some basic realist tenants, demonstrate to the contrary. Most notably, and mentioned before, the Russians stand to gain financially from the Chinese defense expansion, and are already doing so. But even more importantly, there is a certain degree of Buck passing and coalition building here. The Russians will not again be a great power, at least in the near future, and will not be able to balance the Chinese on their own. India aside, the Chinese stand as the next possible regional hegemon. Knowing this, the Russians will do as all other non-hegemons do in a multi-polar world: join up with one side or the other. Combine this with financial benefits of such an alliance and the geographic and political gaps between the US and Russia, and the most likely outcome is that the Russians will probably not do much of anything. They wouldn't jump in on the side of the Chinese; they risk openly alienating the US and other Anglosphere allies; but they will probably continue to supply, queitly, the Chinese with armaments. Frankly, if this happens within the next 10 years, the Russians will do all they can to avoid entering the conflict at all. Realist "black box" aside, the Russians have too much else to worry about right now.

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