Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
March 18, 2022
The post WWII world order based on the “Cold War” between the US and Soviet Union ended in 1991 when Soviet Union collapsed. The US won the cold war and dominated the global politics till 2016 or so when President Trump took office and proclaimed that he would Make America Great Again (MAGA.) Then Trump Administration withdrew from the global stage left TPP, Paris Climate Change Agreement, JCPOA Iran Nuclear Agreement and WHO clearly showed the world order established after 1991 was shaken to the base. Biden Administration hastily withdrew from Kabul last August and proclaimed that his administration is focused on a domestic agenda named “Building Back Better” for the US.
The rise of China drew US attention, and the US started the Pivot-to-Indo Pacific during the second term of Obama Administration. Since then, US strategy and foreign policy have been focused on building a new Pacific-NATO, according to the Chinese, for containing China. Biden Administration has been focusing competition with China on almost every issue and intends to win every contest. The hope of a normal US-China relation after Trump’s trade war faded quickly and the reality is US and China are barely talking.
In the meantime, the world has been exhausted by a global COVID-19 crisis since 2019. The US suffered major setback with more than 80 million infected and close to one million causalities. The pandemic has ravaged global economy and the US is still trapped with the highest inflation in 40 years. The global pandemic is far from over, but any economic recovery needs global coordination.
It was under the background of a tense US-China relation and a global pandemic that the Ukraine crisis started to brew last year. War is not inevitable, but it started on February 24, 2022. Now the war is entering a traditional phase of directly negotiating peace between Russia and Ukraine along with ground battles destroying Ukraine day by day.
We can not say that Putin made the decision to invade Ukraine counting on the weakened US or his personally view on Biden’s strength. We also do not know for sure that Biden Administration’s unprecedent economic sanctions against Russia and Russian individuals including Putin, Lavrov et al. are meant to stop the Ukraine war or all the way to exclude Putin’s Russia from the global economy.
Either way, the Ukraine war has fundamentally ruptured the world order established after the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991. There is also clear, without Lavrov openly pronouncing that “Moscow will never accept a world order dominated by the United States.” Moscow never accepted a world order dominated by the US; the old cold war was a contest between Russia and the USA. The only news is that “Moscow will look to China, India and, increasingly, inwards.”
It is also abundantly clear that in the future when Moscow looks to China and India, they are peers rather than when Soviet Union was the only superior power counterbalancing the USA. It is also wise that Russia will increasingly look “inwards.” The US should listen to Russia’s advice that the US should also increasingly look “inwards.” If every major power in the world can effectively take care of her domestic issues first, before venturing out to be the “Sheriff of the World,” the new world order would be much easier to realize peacefully.
Russia says post-1991 ‘illusions’ about the West are over
LONDON (Reuters) – Russia has lost any illusions about ever relying on the West and Moscow will never accept a world order dominated by the United States, which is acting like a sheriff seeking to call all the shots in a saloon bar, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
Western nations have imposed sweeping sanctions across Russia’s financial and corporate sectors in response to Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, plunging Russia’s economy into its gravest crisis since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.
Lavrov, President Vladimir Putin’s foreign minister since 2004, said the West’s reaction to what Moscow has called a “special military operation” had illustrated that the West was completely dominated by the United States and that the European Union was largely powerless.
“If there was any illusion that we could one day rely on our Western partners, this illusion is no longer there,” Lavrov told Russian state-funded RT in English.
Russia would look eastwards,
“What the Americans want is a unipolar world which would not be like a global village but like an American village – or maybe like a saloon where you know the strongest calls the shots,” Lavrov said.
He added that many countries such as China, India and Brazil did not want Sam” acting like a sheriff.
Russia’s invasion has killed thousands of people, displaced more than 3 million and raised fears of a wider confrontation between Russia and the United States, the world’s two biggest nuclear powers.
Lavrov’s defiant response to the West’s effort to isolate his country echoed that of Putin, who has indicated in recent days that the post-1991 era of Russian history has drawn to a close and that from now on Moscow will look to China, India and, increasingly, inwards.
“We will now have to rely only on ourselves and on our allies who stay with us,” Lavrov said. “We are not closing the door on the West – they are doing so.”
As the Soviet Union crumbled and the Cold War ended, many in both Russia and the West hoped that the confrontations which had divided the post-World War Two world would recede or even be bridged.
Putin says Moscow’s actions in Ukraine were necessary because NATO’s enlargement threatened Russia, and that Moscow needed to save Russian-speaking people in Ukraine from oppression.
Ukraine casts the invasion as a Russian imperial-style land grab.