MOSCOW. (Vladimir Maximenko, for RIA Novosti.) - The recent meeting in Vladivostok of the foreign ministers of Russia, China, and India, and the appearance of Henry Kissinger's article "China: Containment Won't Work" in The Washington Post are linked by the approaching "decline of Europe" that they both symbolize.
Sergei Lavrov met with Li Zhaoxing and Natwar Singh in Russia's Far East, a strategically important geopolitical region of North East Asia. Singh's declaration at the meeting that the three countries could overhaul the world order more or less reflected the overall feelings of the three giants of the "Eurasian Triangle."
Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union as a Eurasian power in late 1991, all US administrations have followed Zbigniew Brzezinski's doctrine of the "Grand Chessboard" (1997). According to Brzezinski, whether the United States can prevent the emergence of a dominant and opposing Eurasian force will determine its ability to maintain global leadership. The administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both produced a U.S. geo-strategy for Eurasia that essentially stipulated the preventive disintegration of the Eurasian space. However, the United States has failed to assert its new style of hegemony, based on the doctrine of Euro-Atlanticism.
Washington has proposed pre-emptive strikes and subsequently implemented them in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the United States is now racing against time. Washington's neo-conservatives used the mythical "axis of evil" to link vital strategic points in southern Eurasia such as the area between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, the Iranian plateau and the Korean peninsula. Moreover, this geopolitical vector crossed the territory of two major nuclear powers, namely, India and China. Combined with the neo-conservative "global democratic revolution," this was a major mistake.
The doctrinal "axis-of-evil," the export of "global revolution", as well as clumsy attempts to discriminate against non-nuclear countries, have yielded diametrically opposite results to those anticipated by the current US Administration and promised to the people of America. North Korea officially announced in February 2005 that it possessed nuclear weapons. Iran's main political forces have rallied confidently around the national nuclear program, while Iran's main regional adversary, Israel, has an estimated 75 to 200 nuclear warheads, or as many as India and Pakistan combined. This only serves to bolster Iranian nuclear nationalism.
It seems that this neo-conservative (U.S.-Israeli) global project has failed. Consequently, some in the West are inclined to "brainwash" the public in line with George Soros' methods. Soros, writing recently in Der Standart (June 20, 2005), apparently believes that the world order has virtually ceased to exist. Other people, including Henry Kissinger, are trying to implement a more constructive line in the new post-Euro-Atlanticism era.
French President Jacques Chirac equated his country's rejection of the European constitution during the May 29 referendum with Europe's demise. It is unclear whether such parallels can be drawn, but one thing is obvious: The Bush Administration's neo-conservative line has resulted in the demise of Euro-Atlanticism, a geopolitical structure created by Anglo-Saxon elites for more than 60 years since the signing of the Atlantic Charter by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill on August 18, 1941.
In his January 2002 state of the nation address, Bush said that "time is not on our side." This phrase helps explain the behavior of Washington's neo-conservative lobby in the last few years. In his book "The End of the American Era," also published in 2002, Charles A. Kupchan shows that part of the U.S. establishment is inclined to discard that utopian uni-polar concept and instead to prepare the United States for a multi-polar world order with several centers of power in line with a new grand strategy. In fact, the United States has lacked such a strategy since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Kissinger's article on China and containment says that "the center of gravity of world affairs is shifting from the Atlantic, where it has been lodged for the past three centuries, to the Pacific." A hundred years ago, after the Russian-Japanese war, Russian geographer A.I. Voyeikov also discussed this concept in his booklet "Will the Pacific Ocean Become the World's Main Trade Route?" Voyeikov had been academic supervisor of the 1890-1891 grand Oriental tour of Russian Crown Prince Nicholas, later Emperor Nicholas II.
Kissinger, who has a reputation for skilful behind-the-scenes negotiations, is discussing this old issue once again. The U.S. establishment is unanimous that China's rise as a superpower will decisively influence the future system of international relations. This dovetails with Kissinger's idea that the center of gravity of world affairs will shift to the Asia-Pacific region.
On December 2 last year, Henry J. Hyde, Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, delivered his report "Hong Kong, China and the World" at a luncheon organized by the Heritage Foundation in Hong Kong. Hyde's report shows that some US politicians are tempted to turn Hong Kong into a staging area for spreading yet another "color revolution" to China. Kissinger warns energetically that this should not be done.
In his article, Kissinger apparently wants to see whether the Eurasian Big Three meeting in Vladivostok can yield real, rather than symbolic, results. The answer to this question is still unclear. Kissinger, who shaped detente in the 1970s, is well aware that the answer to this question, and not U.S.-China relations, "may well determine whether our children will live in turmoil even worse than the 20th century's or will witness a new world order compatible with universal aspirations for peace and progress."
Vladimir Maximenko is senior research associate at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Oriental Studies.