Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed China’s Xi Jinping to Moscow this week for a three-day state visit. It wasn’t just the personal warmth between the two leaders that was on display. They have met on nearly 30 occasions over the past six years. President Xi referred to Putin as his closest international ally and friend.
More importantly, the two nations are solidifying a strategic alliance that could define the shape of geopolitics for the 21st Century.
Putin and Xi, who also attended the annual St Petersburg International Economic Forum this week, signed a raft of bilateral commercial agreements which will propel Eurasian development and indeed global development.
Of particular significance is the continued drive by Moscow and Beijing to conduct international trade in national currencies, obviating the US dollar as a payment means. This is a crucial step in countering the desired “hegemonic control” of the global financial system by Washington. Time and again, Washington has abused its privileged position of printing or withholding dollars in order to further its own agenda of dominating other nations. That abuse has to stop, and it will stop as Russia and China pave the way to a new, fairer mechanism of international finance and trade.
The vision of cooperation and partnership outlined by Putin and Xi is one based on mutual respect and peaceful prosperity. Not just for those two nations but for all others who participate in the multilateral vision that they promulgate. In that way, the alliance being consolidated by Russia and China is one that offers renewed hope in a progressive and peaceful future for the planet.
This positive vision is especially welcome at a time when the US under President Donald Trump is unleashing a barrage of tensions and potential conflicts from its bid to assert global dominance. The US is wielding sanctions and threats at numerous nations, including Russia and China, as well as even towards its own supposed allies in Europe, all in a desperate attempt to assert a hegemonic unipolar ambition.
Such a scheme is a negation of the vision of solidarity and partnership outlined by the Russian and Chinese leadership. The “American way” is not only futile. Ultimately, it is a zero-sum mentality that leads to destruction and war. A path to where, ultimately, nobody wins.
It is not as if history has not shown us that already. Two horrendous world wars were fought in the 20th century – with a total death toll of as many as 100 million people – largely because of selfish imperialist rivalry and zero-sum mentality.
Russia and China were two nations that suffered the most in those conflagrations. They both know the horrific cost of conflict, but also the preciousness of peace. That’s why it is heartening to see those two countries forging a new paradigm of international cooperation based on mutualism and a commitment to development for the common good of all people.
The much-vaunted multilateralism during the so-called Pax Americana decades following Second World War was always over-rated. It was always a cover for Washington’s presumed global hegemony. The present unwinding of the US-led Western order is really just the ugly face of American power coming to the surface.
While Putin and Xi were embodying a vision for the future this week, it seemed ironically appropriate that the US and some other Western leaders were indulging in a backward look at history. The faux camaraderie of Western leaders was also apparent, belied by ongoing seething squabbles and rivalries between the US, France, Britain and Germany.
President Trump and others were marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Normandy Landings in June 1944. That event heralded the opening of the Western Front against Nazi-occupied Europe and contributed to the final defeat of the Third Reich in May 1945. Lamentably, however, Western leaders persist in a conceited and false notion that D-Day was the key turning point in the definitive victory of the Second World War.
It is frankly incontestable that it was the Soviet Red Army and the colossal sacrifices of Soviet citizens that were the pivotal force in defeating Nazi Germany and yielding the liberation of Europe from fascism. The momentous Battle of Stalingrad which smashed the Nazi war machine was over by February 1943, some 16 months before the Western allies launched their long overdue D-Day.
Western leaders can indulge in self-serving vanities about presumed past glories all they want. It doesn’t change the historical record or objective truth. And besides, those who don’t learn from history are bound to be trapped by repeating its errors and dead-ends. They are quite literally yesterday people.
Fittingly, Putin and Xi were not at the D-Day nostalgia event and its escapism to delusional glory of the 20th Century. They were busy forging an alliance fit for the 21st Century.