Those who are familiar with my articles would be aware that I am not given to catastrophism or alarmism. But perhaps the time has come to reflect on who will be president after Trump (whether after this or the next term) and what this will mean for relations with Russia and China.
What will the United States’ relations with Russia and China be like when the 46th president of the United States takes office in 2025? This is a question that I often ask myself, especially in light of Trump’s political choices regarding international arms-control treaties (INF Treaty), nuclear proliferation, economic war with China, a financial crisis that is artificially postponed thanks to QE, out-of-control military spending, an increasingly aggressive NATO stance towards the Russian Federation, and continuous provocations against the People’s Republic of China. Where will we end up with after another five years of provocations? For how much longer will Putin and Xi Jinping maintain the “strategic patience” not to respond to Washington with drastic measures?
Let us imagine we are in 2025
The four current global hot spots – Iran, Syria, Venezuela and DPRK – have maintained their resistance to Washington’s diktats and have emerged more or less victorious. Syrian territory in its entirety is now under the control of Damascus; Iran has established enough deterrents not to be attacked; Pyongyang continues in its negotiations with Washington as the reunification of the two Koreas continues along; the Bolivarian revolution still lives on in Venezuela.
Putin is preparing to leave the Russian Federation as president after 25 years. Xi Jinping could see his mandate expire in a few more years. Washington is about to appoint a new president, who in all probability will be the opposite of Trump, in the same way Obama was the opposite of Bush and Trump a reaction to Obama.
So let us imagine someone emerging in the Democratic Party completely committed to advancing the view of the US deep state and the military-industrial complex – someone like Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright or any of the 2019 Democratic candidates for the 2020 elections (the ones with anything to commend them do not count). Such a person would be committed to reinvigorating the idea of American exceptionalism following eight years of a Trump presidency that has mostly focused (the neocons notwithstanding) on domestic issues and the policy of “America First”.
Now let us think about what has been, and will be, dismantled internationally by Trump during his presidency, namely: the suspension of the INF Treaty and an indication not to extend the New START treaty (on nuclear-arms reduction), deployment of troops on the Russian border in Europe, sanctions, tariffs and economic terrorism of all kinds.
Ask yourself how likely it is that the next US president will want and be able to improve relations with Russia and China as well as accept a multipolar world order? The answer to that is zero, with the Trump presidency only serving to remind us how every administration remains under the control of the military, industrial, spy and media apparatus, expressed in liberal and neocon ideologies.
Trump has increased military spending considerably, singing the praises of the military-industrial complex and promising to modernize the country’s nuclear arsenal. Such a modernization would take two decades to be completed, a detail always omitted by the media. For Trump it is a case of “America First”. For the deep state the project is long term and ought to be far more alarming for the global community.
Russia, China and the US all appear committed to further militarization, with Russia and China strongly focussing on defending their strategic interests in the face of US aggression. Beijing will focus on building a large number of aircraft carriers to defend her maritime borders, while Moscow seeks to seal her skies against missiles and stealthy aircraft (a land campaign against Russia, as history teaches us, has little chance of success).
Experts predict that any great-power conflict in the near future may consist exclusively of conventional and/or nuclear missiles, combined with robotic technology, drones, artificial intelligence, cyber warfare, A2/AD, hypersonic weapons and sabotage. In addition to nuclear weapons, the platforms from which they are launched, missiles and interceptors, a country’s computational power will be decisive, with quantum computers already a reality in China.
The US, China and Russia will no longer have any restrictions on the production of nuclear weapons after (absent any new negotiations or agreements to extend it) the New START treaty expires in 2025. The situation regarding cyberspace and near-earth space is certainly alarming, with no explicit treaties between the great powers being in place. The few agreements in force are routinely violated, especially with regard to near-earth vehicles, as Subrata Ghoshroy informs us when discussing the US X-37B military vehicle: ‘Backdoor weaponization of space?‘:
“Discussions about how to prevent an arms race in space started long ago; the UN Conference on Disarmament even started negotiations on a treaty, but the United States prevented it from going any further. And at the 2008 Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, China and Russia introduced an actual space arms control treaty, popularly known as the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space treaty (PAROS Treaty, 2012)”
Adding to this alarming situation is the growing US commitment to the doctrine of a preventive nuclear first strike. One wonders how much longer the world will be able to prevent itself from being bombed back to the Stone Age.
I wrote an article in 2016 dismissing the possibility of a nuclear war as absurd and impossible. But while a lot has changed in the meantime, my opinion has not. Nevertheless, I struggle to understand how such an eventuality can be avoided when the US remains on a collision course with China and Russia.
Trump appears unwilling to go down in history as the president responsible for kicking off nuclear Armageddon. But what about the next president? The deep state in control of US politics would surely be able to place into office someone who would advance the final justification for a headlong confrontation with Moscow and Beijing.
If you think I am exaggerating, take Pompeo, a representative of the deep state, and his recent answer to the question of whether Trump was sent by God to save Israel from Iran. “As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible”, he responded. If the US elects someone influenced by the messianic vision of American exceptionalism, a vision that refuses to accept the realpolitik of multiple geopolitical poles and great-power competition, then hang on to your hats, for the chances of a nuclear winter will increase dramatically. Just remember that the alternative to Trump was Hillary Clinton, who was calling for a no-fly zone in Syria – that is, for the possibility of the US shooting down Russian fighter jets!
What would be needed if faced with such a presidency is a healthy, grass-roots internal opposition throughout Europe and the US. As things stand now, there is no longer an anti-war movement, the public disoriented by the mainstream media feeding them a constant stream of lies, misinformation and propaganda. Assange is unjustly imprisoned and Yemeni civilians are continuously bombed, and yet the media tells us that Julian works for the Kremlin, that Moscow wants to destabilize and destroy Europe, that China intends to subjugate the whole world, that Kim Jong-un is seeking the nuclearization of half of Asia, that Assad has massacred hundreds of thousands of civilians, that Saudi Arabia is a country undergoing full reform, and that al-Qaeda is fighting for freedom in Syria!
In such a current situation, truth is malleable, able to be fashioned and shaped according to the needs and requirements of the military-industrial complex, which needs justifications for its endless wars. The situation can only get worse over the next six years, with citizens less and less able to understand the world around them. The further advances in technology will only help governments and corporations to control information and decide what is right and wrong in a process of mass lobotomization. The Internet will hardly continue to be free, and even if it were to continue in its current state, the ability to offer counter-narratives will be limited by a lack of advertising revenue to expand businesses and reach more people for independent media platforms.
To avoid the possibility of nuclear annihilation we have to rely on the cool heads and leadership qualities of those who will succeed Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping (it is unclear when Xi Jinping will leave office).
Only those who assiduously keep themselves informed are able to appreciate the forbearance that the Sino-Russian leadership has and will continue to have in the face of continuing US provocations.
But what will happen when these two even-tempered leaders are no longer in power while the means to inflict a devastating blow to the US remain available to their successors? Will the same forbearance remain in the face of ongoing US provocations?
Moscow will be deploying all sorts of hypersonic weapons that the US cannot intercept, together with a hundred state-of-the-art Su-57 fighters. China will have about six to seven aircraft carriers, escorted by numerous destroyers, each with 112 vertical launch system (VLS) cells, hypersonic missiles, anti-satellite and electromagnetic weapons.
The S-500 systems will be scattered throughout Russia (and presumably also in China and Belarus), armed with hypersonic interceptors. In addition to this conventional deterrence, the current Chinese and Russian nuclear arsenal is already capable of wiping out the US in the space of a few minutes.
Washington will continue to raise the temperature vis-a-vis China and Russia, even after Putin and Xi have left the office. It is therefore likely that their successors will come from their country’s most hawkish and intransigent wings.
In 2025 Putin and Xi will hopefully have succeeded in avoiding a conflict with the US through the skillful employment of diplomatic, economic and often military means, playing a moderating role that stands in contrast to that played by the West, which, not understanding this approach, brands it as extremist.
Imagine that the tensions between these three countries continues to steadily increase over the next five years at the same rate as it has over the last 10 years. How will the respective deep states of Russia and China react? Imagine in these two countries the appointment of two intransigent personalities ready to respond to US provocations.
Washington continues its inexorable decline relative to other powers as a result of the new multipolar reality, which evens out the distribution of geopolitical weight over a wider area of the global chessboard. We must hope, for the sake of humanity, that Washington’s decline will accelerate to such an extent under the Trump presidency that the US will be forced to focus instead on its own internal problems. Reaching such a point would require the collapse of the global economy that is based on the US dollar; but this is another story altogether that could also end in bloodshed.
Trump is appreciated by a part of the deep state for his efforts to reinvigorate Washington’s military-industrial complex by practically offering it a blank check. This is without considering Trump’s economic-financial assault on allies and enemies alike, which seems to be an attempt to squeeze the last drops out of any remaining advantage to the dollar-based system before it collapses.
The long-term plan of the US elites sometimes seems to be to provoke a great-power conflict in order to gain victory and then construct a new global financial order atop the rubble.