Wednesday, March 22, 2023


The Chinese and the Russians had their lukewarm love fest.

There was the usual robotic Russian pomp, dear to Putin. The large table was nowhere to be seen. The two leaders sat in hugging distance.  Dr. Kissinger must have choked seeing his worst nightmare come true, or did it?

Years ago such a summit between former rivals would have been a watershed moment. The US/USSR/PRC ménage à trois is no longer and all former players have to bare a situation wherein allies turn rogue. The difference is that while America might lament the changing behavior of some of its exes, Russia and, to a lesser degree, China never had real friends. Russia wields hard-power, China has money, the USA alone has soft- and hard power. The romance with most things American is gone but past mistakes start to be forgiven while the often twisted fascination is still there.

Everybody thought that Russia could swallow Ukraine in a fortnight. Observers watched China's rising in awe but forgot to notice the farce of the real estate boom or the dysfunctions of a system that is often more oppressive than seductive.

The coupling of these two ugly ducklings has encouraged others to either flock: Syria, Iran, Venezuela & Co., or to play hard-to- get: Saudis, UAE, India, South Africa. The EU sulks but might prove more resilient in the end. The US made the only move on the chessboard that really counts, by launching AUKUS, the strategic alliance with Australia and the UK, creating a mare nostrum in the Indo-Pacific. 

Too often observers are misguided in considering that bombast is more impressive than agility.  They should read La Fontaine's The Ox and the Frog.

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