We are in this story following a tradition from Canon Doyle. What is missing might be the important and strong clue as in ‘the dog that did not bark’. Let us consider the current analysis of The Duran (Alex Mercouris and Alex Christoforou). They have accepted that the Ukraine war is part of a conflict between US on one side and China and Russia on the other. They also accept that China and Russia have an unbounded relationship.
However, whenever they consider the future they separate China from Russia. By itself, one might see this as simply an error but it reveals their eurocentrism. If the Russians had resolved the Ukraine situation then the US would be free to concentrate on China so if Russia sat with China would this seem sensible? Consider the simple fact that if any sort of partial resolution was achieved in Ukraine and then the US attacked China and won would Russia not fear the US would now return and revisit the Ukraine settlement? Russia’s security is as much dependent on the outcome of the Ukraine conflict but ALSO on the failure of the US attack on China.
Putin has openly declared that the Russian turn to Asia is both urgent and permanent. Many of the possibilities for Ukraine that The Duran considers involve a disproportionate focus of Russia’s resources on the Western border and thus conflicts with their strategic redirection. If one takes the redirection seriously then Russia would not prefer any resolution of the Ukraine conflict that requires a permanent focus of Russian attention and resources on their western border.
Now the Eurocentrism is revealed by the implicit assumption that the western border is the most important to Russia, that relations with Europe are of critical importance. Also from a joint position, Russia-China, would a quick resolution to the Ukraine conflict be optimal? At least the continuation of the conflict involves the degrading of the US capacity and in the most safe manner. For China the continuation of this conflict weakens the US prior to any conflict with China and gives China more time to improve its military position. One of the many statements made prior to the Ukraine conflict was that the optimum time for the US to attack China was in the next two years. This made strategic sense on the timeline that Russia would collapse in 2022 and thus allow for the US to have two years to attack China i.e. 2023 and 2024. Others extended the time window to later years. According to some statements the US – China war will take place between 2025 and 2027
‘A top American air force general has predicted that the US and China will probably go to war in 2025’1
If the survival of China is critical to the survival of Russia then the implications of the Ukrainian settlement for the war against China is important to Russia’s own survival. Russia’s turn to the East means that Russia will not want a Ukrainian settlement that severely hampers its turn to the East because the turn to the East requires enormous resources to be invested in infrastructure.
But The Duran cannot see this because they are still in a world where Europe is still centre stage and the most important area of focus for Russia.
Our final point is about language. Part of contemporary Western culture is a myth about ‘rationality’. This view that the rise of the West was due the rise of rationality is an ideological myth. Nevertheless this form of ‘rationality’ is often confused with a formal syllogism. A syllogism goes as follows: if we accept premisses A and B then C follows logically from B and C. This affects the media presentation of US policy. If the US statesmen want to do C he/she will invent premisses that will allow an expression of the syllogism: if A and B then C. This becomes a great diversion for critics of US policy. They spend extraordinary resources in establishing that premisses A and B are false. But they never ask the question: does it make any difference? Many people argued that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and in retrospect it appears that many in the administration also believed there were no WMD. The key issue is that Western critics, in particular classic liberals, cannot accept that the policy they are criticising is not RATIONAL so that rational criticism will not make any difference. If Western society is not rational at its core then we may need to accept that darker motives are driving Western society. This the classic liberal does not wish to entertain. In this way, the classic liberal and the neo-con state are joined at the hip.
1. US air force general predicts China conflict in 2025(Sevastopulo, 2023)
Sevastopulo, D. (2023, January 28). US air force general predicts China conflict in 2025. Financial Times. https://www.ft.com/content/2b50ce67-bf88-4aff-bac9-eb9ac1b3b2ca