David A. Andelman has written (CNN) Trump’s biggest nightmare? China and Russia’s newfound friendship. For a guy who wrote about Versailles, there’s a lot to disagree with.The article panders to our fear, the creation of a world-dominating Goliath in the combination of China and Russia. Encouraging this fear, the article cites these public demonstrations:
- (CNN) “Chinese warships joined the parade of Russian naval vessels Quotin the sea off the Port of Kronstadt in St. Petersburg as President Vladimir Putin looked on proudly. “
- “…live-firing of big guns in the Baltic Sea “
- “…this new reality should not have come as a surprise.”
- “…given comfort to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “
- “That the two powers are joining forces can only give comfort to …”
- “…$10 billion worth of other agreements, as both leaders grinned and shook hands. “
The words are treacled with fear, and laden with the presumption of a “new reality”. Good writing works on the emotional level, and this is good writing. It evokes the emotions, directly with “frightening new guest”, indirectly with reference to the disgusting character of Assad. In a piece where logic should prevail, logic is swamped by style.
Everything in the above list, except for the $10 billion, is a PR event. Nobody fires big naval guns anymore for military reasons. Naval guns were big in the time of the Versailles conference, the subject of Andelman’s book. But the act does not carry the same meaning, or threat, as it did then. Big guns are a military weapon of negligible importance. Their value to Putin is the noise they make.
The world is currently fixated on handshakes. Here’s an education on handshakes: Molotov and Ribbentrop seal the deal. The deal was the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, an evil deal between Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, consecrated in August 1939. Ribbentrop and Stalin also shook hands. The world renowned Handshake Scoring System predicted enduring permanence of the deal between two dictators. It lasted just short of two years. On June 22, 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Handshakes are less important than milkshakes.
In the spirit of triteness, here’s a zinger for Mr. Andelman, Michael Corleone’s inspired paraphrase of Sun Tzu. “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” On second thought, we could leave Sun Tzu out of it and attribute to the great philosopher Mario Puzo.
Mr. Andelman seems totally mislead by the visible. And Putin is somewhat of a stage magician. The events call for Penn & Teller to tell us what we’ve actually seen. I’ll sub in their absence. Let’s proceed to a deeper level.
The unfinished Amur River bridge project will be the only bridge to cross the Russia-China border. China built the large part, while the small Russian part languishes. A NY Times article describes work on the Russian side with a shovel and digging with the hands. Russians who were solicited for opinions expressed fear that the bridge would facilitate passage by Chinese tanks. According to russianconstruction.com, it will be completed in 2018. The bridge may be completed, but the sentiments will remain. There are probably special Russian preparations for destruction of the bridge.
China has ten times the population, and about 6 times the GNP of Russia. Russia has problems of demographic decay. Aging of the population in China, induced by policies for population control, is strictly voluntary. In every measure of societal health, China exceeds and dwarfs Russia. Throughout history, shared borders between countries such as these has resulted in war and annexation by the stronger power. The current situation is a notable exception. The one new factor is the advent of nuclear weapons. If it were not for this, China would absorb Russia with no more trouble than the belch resulting from a dish of moo goo gai pan.
The above is part of an organic argument, based in generalities of foreign affairs that have been demonstrated countless times. The power is in fact and logic, not playing with emotions. Scoring with a Star Wars sound track should not be necessary. No world leader should allow the emotions to dominate, and neither should you.
This was just my opening salvo. I will hose down the gun barrels of the HMS Ridicule, reload with shells, powder, and coal, and set course up the Chattahoochee River to bombard Atlanta directly.
I shall return.