OPINION

A high-stakes game

a-high-stakes-game

Joe Biden is acknowledged as the leader of the free world by Washington’s allies, but to endow the title with some substance, the American president thought it necessary to stand up to Russia and China.

The only thing he has accomplished so far is to rally presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China against the United States, as we saw from the online conversations between the two leaders of the unfree world.

In short, we have gone from the ideological rift between Russia and China in 1961, which was beautifully exploited by Washington when President Richard Nixon visited China in early 1972, to Putin and Xi talking about “joint actions” to “more effectively safeguard” their “security and interests” from the Americans.

In one sense, the confrontation between the US and Russia and China is due to the fact that assurances are often given at times of political optimism that are then negated.

At a time when making sure that the USSR was surrounded by unfriendly forces was regarded as paramount, President Nixon told his interlocutors in Beijing that Taiwan was a part of China. As soon as he returned to the US, he claimed something different.

Today, Biden casts himself as the guarantor of Taiwan’s independence, when it is China’s massive economic boom that is the real challenge to American hegemony.

Likewise in 1990, when the reunification of Germany was being discussed, the Great Powers of the West sought to assure Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO had no plans to expand East. These “assurances” were not included in the text of the final agreement, but diplomatic documents confirm that they were made. Today, every former member of the Warsaw Pact is in NATO, every country in the Balkans except for Serbia, and all three Baltic states.

The Russians watched developments somewhat passively until they invaded Georgia in 2008 and then Crimea in 2014, loudly expressing Putin’s determination not to allow Russia’s access to the Mediterranean to be blocked. He was also successful in displaying Russia’s might and influence in Syria and Libya, following failed Western interventions in both.

It is necessary at this point to mention Greece, as the American base in Alexandroupoli in the north marks the most significant deployment of US forces south of Russia. It is the first time that Greece has become a US strategic outpost in the region, giving it a serious advantage over Turkey. At the same time, this has also thrust Greece into the high-stakes game being played by President Biden – with everything this may entail.