Lately, a lot is being said about America’s dwindling impact on developing geopolitical processes in different parts of the world. Some claim that this nation is no longer capable of dominating the world scene. Nonetheless, the geopolitical strategy that Washington pursues in reality has to be taken into account. Eminent geostrategists and analysts express differing opinions. Scrutiny of this particular aspect reveals some fascinating points.
New strategy: from fighting to compromise
Presumably, palpable changes may occur in the U.S.-Russia relations. Although no concrete propositions have been made on Washington’s part, some leaks to the media and estimates by the expert community help to draw the general picture. Kissinger, Brzezinski and Friedman are among some outstanding experts that suggest fascinating views. Indeed, a distinction has to be made between two aspects pertaining to this subject. The point is that analysts view America’s policy on Russia in conjunction with that on the European Union. Interestingly, relations with Moscow are regarded more highly that the ties with Brussels.
This is the very aspect that “Stratfor” founder George Friedman takes into account while analyzing infamous telephone call involving Victoria Nuland. According to intercepted conversation, speaking to the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Nuland used harsh terminology while expressing her mistrust towards the European Union. She described this institution as feeble and pushed cooperation with it aside. She instructed the ambassador to act on his own while shaping the opposition coalition, before Russia woke up and took action (see: George Friedman. New Dimensions of U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Russia / “Geopolitical Weekly”, 11 February 2014).
G. Friedman starts his analysis by saying, “U.S. foreign policy has evolved during past few years. Previously the United States was focused heavily on the Islamic world, and more important, tended to regard the use of force as an early option in the execution of the U.S. policy rather than as a last resort… The alternative has been a shift to balance-of-power strategy…” (see: previous source). This view is important in light of the changes in Washington’s foreign policy course and also because, along with other factors, the Western analysts emphasize this particular aspect.
Brzezinski for example, expressed interesting ideas in his interview with the “Terra America” website. According to him, in the “post-hegemony” (the term belongs to Brzezinski – Newtimes) phase, the big powers need to change attitude towards one another. “Compromises between them are extremely necessary” (see: Zbigniew Brzezinski. “Компромиссные решения между главными державами необходимы!” / “Terra America”, 17 February 2014).
He explains the imperativeness of such a change by the inconsistence of the war option with the modern day demands. He believes proponents of military intervention and brute coercion, like on Syria, Iraq and Iran have a “simplistic way of thinking”. He admits that America is no longer an absolute hegemony in the Middle East. Therefore, a “geopolitical void” has emerged. The void attempted to be partially filled by Russia, China and the European Union. Nonetheless, the U.S. remains to be a crucial player in the region. The clash between the world’s big geopolitical powers entailed by such factors is a threat to humanity. They must cooperate to “neutralize lower layer turbulences” (see: previous source).
Judging by Brzezinski’s ideas, the big powers must move on from confrontation to cooperation. They must reach compromises on all the pressing issues of the geopolitical agenda. In this context, it is about certain calibration to be made to America-Russia relations.
Two aspects of active geopolitics: Germany or Russia?
There is one point worth emphasizing, in light of Washington’s performance. It is evident that the U.S. is not at all pleased with new geopolitical ambitions of Germany, although some Russian experts regard Berlin’s intentions to boost its prominence in the international affairs as a joint venture between America and Germany. Nonetheless, the U.S. is yet to embrace the idea of Europe becoming an independent geopolitical leader.
There are two reasons for that. First, throughout the history America came to Europe’s rescue. Second, in modern times, the U.S. needs Europe by its side for confronting Russia and China. Concerted efforts by Washington and Brussels translate into emergence of great economic, political, military, social and cultural force.
Germany’s recent behavior contradicts that very spirit. Most recently, Angela Merkel proposed a creation of an independent communication system (see: Angela Merkel back EU internet to deter U.S. spying / “The Financial Times”, 16 February 2014). She also said that she wished to discuss this subject in the meeting with the French President François Hollande. Germany’s move is seen as an effort to rid itself of information-communicational dependence from the U.S. – a policy surely to displease America. In this connection Russia’s value, as a geopolitical factor, changes for the U.S. Presumably, to a certain extent, America may advance cooperation with Russia to show Europe its place.
Still, it would be inappropriate to dismiss another important point because the bigger issue is the changes made by the U.S. to its geopolitical position. Namely, Washington seeks an opportunity to intensify its efforts. We believe in the above mentioned article G. Friedman provided a consummate answer to this question.
“Stratfor” founder writes, “The public interception of Nuland’s phone call was not all that embarrassing. It showed the world that the United States, not Germany, is leading the way in Ukraine. And it showed the Russians that the Americans care so little, they will express it on an open cellphone line. Nuland’s obscene dismissal of the European Union and treatment of Russia as a problem to deal with confirms a U.S. policy: The United States is not going to war but passivity is over” (see: Friedman’s previously mentioned article).
This idea illustrates both sarcasm of the American policy and its content. “Dismissal of others”, on the one hand, shifts the relations with such a big geopolitical power as Russia to a different level, while on the other hand, reveals the harsh reality of policy executed with respect to regional states. Friedman does emphasize that Washington no longer implicates itself with wars but places stakes on regional strife and historically lingering conflicts. By doing so, it precludes emergence of regional leaders and prevents any efforts contradicting to America’s interests.
Friedman goes on to say, “The new strategy can be seen in Syria, where rather than directly intervening the United States has stood back and allowed the warring factions to expend their energy on each another, preventing either side from diverting resources to activities that might challenge U.S. interests” (see: same article).
Everything is clear cut. Indeed, we have provided analysis of this particular aspect of the U.S. policy in several articles. Now the American experts have finally started to acknowledge the new trend. Wish such a new shift underway, America-Russia relations evoke keen interest. However, there are many uncertainties on this front.