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The Breaking The Moscow-Beijing Axis Should Be Our Top Priority


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Issues & Insights

What a difference a half-century makes. 

In February 1972, the People’s Republic of China hosted a history-making American delegation headed by President Richard M. Nixon, the Middle Kingdom’s most important Western visitor since Marco Polo.  In February 2022, no Western heads of state were in Beijing as the city played host to the Winter Olympics. 

Those hoping the U.S.-led diplomatic boycott would cause red faces in Red China were disappointed when chief ChiCom Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin held their 38th meeting, just prior to the opening ceremonies.  From their conference emerged a 5,000-word joint declaration pledging cooperation on military and economic matters around the world and beyond (plans for a Sino-Russian moon base were announced last year). 

Preventing such a combination, which Xi has described as something that “exceeds an alliance,” has been an objective of foreign policy strategists since the beginning of the last century. The failure to achieve that objective is nothing short of calamitous according to fin de siècle historian Henry Adams.

Having relieved Spain of the remnants of her empire via the Spanish-American War, America emerged as a new world power at the dawn of the 20th Century. At that time, Henry Adams emerged as a peak geopolitical prognosticator.  The scion of presidents and diplomats, Adams was famously perplexed by the modern world, but nonetheless possessed an unparalleled foresight into the future of foreign affairs.  He correctly predicted the decline of the British Empire, world war, the Bolshevik Revolution, NATO, and the atomic bomb. 

But Adams’ most chilling insight came as his friend and neighbor Secretary of State John Hay was desperately trying to prevent Russian colonization of China through his “Open Door” policy of guaranteeing world powers equal access to Chinese markets.  Adams warned, “if Russia organizes China as an economical power, the little drama of history will end in the overthrow of our clumsy [W]estern civilization.”

Adams feared that if “the vast force of inertia known as China . . . united with the huge bulk of Russia in a single mass,” it could economically and militarily surpass any coalition of nations straddling the Atlantic.  “We never can compete with Asia, and Chinese coal and labor, organized by a Siberian system,” stated Adams in 1903. :snip:

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