by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A fantasy persists among self-styled realist critics of the West’s support for Kyiv’s defense against Russia’s armed effort to devour Ukraine and yoke its people: The idea that the foremost geopolitical crisis on the planet is a sideshow and a distraction.
The real action, they insist, is in the Pacific, where China menacingly eyes territory beyond its shores and, ultimately, hopes to chase the United States out of the region. The U.S. must, therefore, reluctantly consign Ukraine to the fate authored for it in Moscow, sideline the NATO allies in Europe who might dissent from that strategy, and devote all its resources to deterring Chinese aggression.
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy and his tenuous grasp of international relations illustrate the impracticality of the policy prescriptions that flow from this misapprehension of what the Russo–Chinese partnership is designed to achieve. Ramaswamy insists that if the West threw Ukraine to the wolves, Moscow would voluntarily agree to dissolve the diplomatic, commercial, and military-to-military relations it cultivated with Beijing. “Now we have actually deterred China from going after Taiwan,” he told Tucker Carlson at an Iowa candidates’ forum in July. Ta-da!
Actions speak louder than empty promises secured via appeasement and theatrical summitry. And the actions in which Moscow and Beijing are engaged indicate to all who are not committed to magical thinking that the Russo–Chinese partnership has nothing to do with Ukraine and everything to do with putting an end to American global hegemony.
Only the latest manifestation of this alliance emerged from the mists off the coast of Alaska this weekend. A flotilla of eleven Russian and Chinese warships patrolled provocatively close to the Aleutian Islands, to which the U.S. responded by dispatching only four destroyers and a single P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft — hardly the most intimidating display.