Long-range Plans of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)

Long-range Plans of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) for the 21st Century : the US, China and Russia

Four Key Essays in Foreign Affairs May/June 2010

Terry Boardman

Foreign Affairs (FA) is the monthly magazine of The Council On Foreign Relations (CFR), the premier American foreign policy thinktank (premier not least because it is bipartisan) which was founded in 1921[1]. The CFR is the ‘brother’ – in the masonic sense of that word – organisation of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA; also known as ‘Chatham House’, founded 1919). These two organisations were both founded by individuals linked to the Round Table Group (1909; a.k.a. the Milner Group), and operated in tandem for much of the 20th century, and still do; in effect, they serve as an informal channel serving the synchronisation of British and American foreign policy. The League of Nations and the UN were devised by key members of these groups. Secretive or semi-secretive organisations like the Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission have been steered by individuals who have close ties to these groups, men such as David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski[2].

From time to time an issue of FA is particularly important and contains one or more keynote items that serve to point out a new direction or the reorientation of a previously existing one. One such was the 70th anniversary issue in 1992, which included Zbigniew Brzezinski’s essay “The Cold War and its Aftermath”, in which he let slip the admission that the result of the Cold War had never been in doubt and that “the policy of liberation was a strategic sham, designed to a significant degree for domestic political reasons.” ‘The policy of liberation’ was the Cold War in that it was supposed to have been fought by the West to defend the world from Communism and to free those countries under the Communist yoke. Brzezinski was, however, in effect, telling us that the whole thing had been a carefully crafted, if complex, sham. Another such issue was the Summer 1993 number that contained Samuel P. Huntington‘s seminal essay “The Clash of Civilisations”, which has informed a great deal of establishment media discourse since then and did so much to create the mental paradigm behind the War On Terror. It’s therefore worth keeping an eye on Foreign Affairs to see what the Anglo- American elite have in store for the rest of us[3].

The May/June 2010 issue of the magazine may well turn out to be another of these seminal issues. It included four articles which address issues that are profoundly concerned with themes that are surely going to be determinant in the first half of the 21st century. For this reason I would strongly recommend anyone to get hold of a copy of this issue of the magazine (Vol. 89 No. 3). The four articles are: “The Geography of Chinese Power” by Robert D. Kaplan, a noted Neo-con, “Bigger Is Better” by Richard Rosecrance, “The Brussels Wall” by William Drozdiak, and “NATOs Final Frontier” by Charles A. Kupchan, a man whose work has had the imprimateur of Henry Kissinger, and who is Senior Fellow for Europe Studies at the CFR (for more on Kupchan, see here: http://www.cfr.org/bios/68/charles_a_kupchan.html. His brother Clifford Kupchan is head of the Eurasia group, a leading political & foreign policy consultancy organisation) Kaplan’s article is in a sense ‘the capstone’ of the four in that it makes explicit what the others either hint at or try to omit entirely.

A little about Kaplan, Rosecrance, and Drozdiak. First, Kaplan:

 “Demand for Kaplan’s unorthodox analysis became more popular after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. In his book Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos, published shortly after 9/11, Kaplan offered the opinion that political and business leaders should discard Christian/Jewish morality in public decision-making in favor of a pagan morality focused on the morality of the result rather than the morality of the means….Kaplan sees large parts of the world where the US military is operating as “injun country” which must be civilized by the same methods used to subdue the American Frontier in the 1800s. He also praises the revival of Confederate military virtue in the US armed forces. … In June 2005 he wrote the cover story for the Atlantic Monthly titled “How We Would Fight China”, which suggests the inevitability of a Cold War- type situation between the US and China……In addition to his journalism, Kaplan has been a consultant to the U.S. Army’s Special Forces, the United States Marines, and the United States Air Force. He has lectured at military war colleges, the FBI, the National Security Agency, the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, major universities, the CIA, and business forums, and has appeared on PBS, NPR, C-Span, and Fox News. He is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. In 2001 he briefed President Bush. … He is currently a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Kaplan’s latest book reflects his continuing interest and focus on the US Armed Forces. … He is currently working on a book for the Center for a New American Security on the importance of the Indian Ocean region” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_D._Kaplan)

While Kaplan is clearly on the hard right, Richard Rosecrance is considered an adherent of ‘liberal international relations theory’ and is Professor in Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He served on the Policy Planning Council of the Department of State and has received Guggenheim, Fulbright, Rockefeller, Ford, and many other fellowships.

William Drozdiak, author of the third essay, “The Brussels Wall”, is a Founding Director of the German Marshall Fund’s Transatlantic Centre (Brussels) and President of the American Council on Germany. These organisations coordinate smooth relations between the American and German elites i.e. make sure that Germany plays its alloted role in the transatlantic worldview as provider of no more than money and good machinery: Europe’s ‘sergeant-major’ who keeps the other ranks in order. Drozdiak is Senior Adviser for Europe at McLarty Associates (part of Kissinger McLarty Associates 1999- 2008). Who are they?
See founder Mack McLarty (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mack_McLarty), a lifelong friend of Bill Clinton (since kindergarten! – Terry) Serving as Clinton’s “special envoy for the Americas,” in which capacity he was a key mover and shaker in the creation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which was supported by the Council of the Americas, established by David Rockefeller in 1965. He was a top official at the 1994 Miami Summit of the Americas, which laid the groundwork for this Trade bloc; as well as serving as a key liaison to Clinton for Rockefeller’s Council in the implementation of this trade agreement. Senior Advisor, Carlyle Group (From 2003)

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_l240WvbBfEs/SYu8DjJr_OI/AAAAAAA ABoQ/z_DYXPb9yQc/s1600-h/587A.gif
http://www.worldproutassembly.org/archives/2008/11/kissin ger_mclar.html

So what are these articles saying when we put them together and read between the lines?

In a word, they are saying : ‘”the West” must prepare for conflict and perhaps war with China somewhat down the road in the 21st century’. This is the 21st century equivalent of what was being said in Anglo-American elite[4] circles 100 years ago with regard to the alleged inevitability of war against Imperial Germany. From those elite circles this message percolated down into the mass media of the time (newspapers, magazines, novels, journals and literature of all kinds). Today, the message of the ‘inevitable struggle against China that will result in a colossal war’ is also percolating, or rather, being percolated, down through the far more complex array of media we have available today, from Hollywood movies to ‘the blogosphere’. [5]


In the FA lead article, “China’s Grand Map – How Far Will Beijing Reach on Land and Sea?”, Kaplan concludes by saying :

“….the US, the hegemon of the Western Hemisphere, will try to prevent China from becoming the hegemon of much of    the Eastern Hemisphere. This could be the signal drama of the age.”

Since the USA is already the hegemon of much of the Eastern hemisphere, Kaplan’s message amounts to saying: ‘the US, the world’s single superpower, will block China and remain the world’s single superpower.’ It is noteworthy that nowhere in Kaplan’s article does he refer to the massive US debt which China holds, the supposed ultimate leverage, the sword of Damocles, which China is said to have over the US. That simply does not figure in Kaplan’s reasoning. Does this make him completely out of touch with modern realities, or does he know something the rest of us don’t know about those realities? Let us recall that Kaplan is not just an individual writer with his own individual imaginings; he is a significant voice in the propaganda machine of western power, rather like Walter Lippmann was in the mid-20 the century, and as such, in touch with the wills and wishes of those who direct that machine.[6]

Significantly, Kaplan’s article China’s Grand Map features a map of East Asia taken from Zbigniew Brzezinski’s 1997 book “The Grand Chessboard – American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives”. The difference is that in Brzezinski’s book (pp.167,184), the regional zone of influence ‘granted’ to China (to mollify China, according to Brzezinski) does not include India, but in Kaplan’s adaptation of the Brzezinski map, it does. India is included within the boundary line which passes from Pakistan, south of Sri Lanka and on to Indonesia; India is merely shaded differently and indicated as a country that, together with Japan (but not, interestingly, S.Korea) will ‘resist’ Chinese influence. But unlike Japan, which is shown outside the line of Chinese influence, India is shown within it. Now, since 1997, nationalism has grown exponentially amongst the Indian middle and upper classes, so any nationalistic Indian would bristle with indignation at seeing India within that boundary line on Kaplan’s map, which may well have been Kaplan’s intention, as he makes clear he wants to see India ranged alongside the West against China.

Kaplan’s essay begins with the thoughts of the British imperialist geopolitician Halford Mackinder in 1904, providing further evidence that today’s imperial Romans, the US East Coast elite, instinctively look back to the example set by yesterday’s imperial Romans, the British (the British elite and the American East Coast elites being virtually symbiotic for many decades now). Quoting with approval Mackinder’s influential article “The Geographical Pivot of History” (1904), Kaplan writes :

[Mackinder] posited that the Chinese, should they expand their power well beyond their borders “might constitute the yellow peril to the world’s freedom just because they would add an oceanic frontage to the resources of the great continent, an advantage as yet denied to the Russian tenant of the pivot region.”

Kaplan goes on to draw attention to what he calls China’s “irritable border syndrome” by which he means the problems within and on China’s borders that the US can take advantage of to put pressure on China: Burma, Xinjiang and Tibet. India he describes as “a blunt geographic wedge” in China’s zone of influence in Asia. He refers to the role of the Dalai Lama, which he clearly sees as a useful factor exacerbating bad relations between India and China; expect more western hero worship of Tenzin Gyatso, especially as his exit from the world stage and his succession approach. Kaplan moves on to describing what he calls China’s “creeping control” over the mineral-rich regions of Mongolia and the Russian Far East. The current Russo-Chinese alliance is “purely tactical“, he says; “geography could drive them apart….this could benefit the United States”. He mentions how in the early 1970s the US (Nixon, Kissinger, Rockefeller) took advantage of the Russia-China difficulties of those years to open the US to China; now, he says, the reverse was possible – the US “might conceivably partner with Russia in a strategic alliance to balance against the Middle Kingdom”: both ends against the Middle – the old formula. Drozdiak and Kupchan point in this direction in their articles. But it is disingenuous, because what Kaplan and his allies really have in mind is America and China against the real ‘middle’ Eurasian power – Russia itself : the creation of a conflict situation between East and West in which Russia would be squeezed and crushed between the two. This would amount to a re-run of World War One with NATO as the western allies of 1914-17, China in the role of Russia, and Russia today, like Germany in the Great War, squeezed between the two. The only difference would be that in 1914-17, Imperial Russia was supposedly an ally of the West. This time, Imperial Russia (= China) will play the enemy role. The result is intended to be the same as in 1919 – the Middle will be crushed, the East will fall into chaos, and the West emerge triumphant again.

Once again, Kaplan refers to Mackinder:

“China seems to be developing as a great land and sea power that will at the very least overshadow Russia in Eurasia.”

Note those words “at the very least……”

Rudolf Steiner saw through the western strategy during the Great War, saying that although it seemed that Russia and the West were allied against Germany, in fact, the West’s ulterior motive was the destruction of Russia and the introduction of Bolshevism, something foreseen by esoteric circles in England already in 1893 (see the lectures of C.G. Harrison given in that year in The Transcendental Universe, published 100 years later in 1993).

Kaplan moves on to S.E. Asia, which, in inflammatory language, he says is increasingly falling “under the shadow of China” and of Beijing’s “divide-and-conquer strategy”. In northern Asia, China is now likely to favour Korean reunification, he says, within a Greater Chinese zone of influence. He goes on to emphasise the growth of the Chinese navy as the main instrument of Chinese outreach:

“in the 21st century China will project hard power abroad primarily through its navy”.

The US, he says must counter Chinese moves towards the Pacific through

“a kind of Great Wall in reverse: a well-organised line of US allies that serve as a sort of guard tower to monitor and possibly block China’s access to the Pacific Ocean.”

In a revealing and bizarre sentence, Kaplan says:

“…one might have expected China to be as benevolent as other maritime nations before it – Venice, Great Britain, the United States – and to concern itself, promarily as those powers, with preserving a peaceful maritime system, including the free movement of trade. But China is not so self-confident.”

This is revealing because Kaplan here links the Anglophone empires not with Holland, Spain, and Portugal, or even the Athenian republic, but with Venice – the original amoral, commercially-minded, naval trading republic of post-classical times, for which money and business came before all. He then seems not to realise that he flatly contradicts his own statements about the benevolent maritime pacifism of Britain and America when he writes:

“…China’s leaders are displaying the aggressive philosophy of of the turn of the 20th century US naval strategist Alfred Thomas Mahan, who argued for sea control and the decisive battle”.

In following Mahan’s advice, the US embarked on the road to global imperialism, in the Spanish-American war of 1898. Kaplan is concerned that ‘the US might lose Taiwan’; in a paranoid re-run of the 1960s SE Asia ‘dominoes theory’, he believes that

“if the US simply abandons Taiwan to Beijing, then Japan, S.Korea, the Philippines, Australia, and other US allies in the Pacific Ocean, as well as India and even some African states wil begin to doubt the strength of Washington’s commitments. That could encourage those states to move closer to China and thus allow the emergence of a Greater China of truly hemispheric proportions.”

With the Chinese military in control of Taiwan, he argues, China “would be freed up to project power beyond [Taiwan] to an unprecedented degree”, i.e. into the Pacific, a ‘US-controlled lake’ since 1945. This “would mark the real emergence of a multipolar military order in East Asia.” Kaplan then notes that in fact China has no real capability to take on the US in any real naval war and is unlikely to develop any such capability in the foreseeable future (!) but argues that China is trying to outsmart the US by its various moves -

“showcasing new weapons systems, building port facilities and listening posts in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, giving miltitary aid to littoral states located between Chinese states and the Indian Ocean…..Rather than fight the US outright, the Chinese seek to influence US behaviour precisely so as to avoid a confrontation.”

But Kaplan is not to be denied his conflict and so concludes:

“China may have no intention of going to war with the US today or in the future, but motives can change. It is better to track capabilities instead.”

In Kaplan’s Strangelovian worldview, only by assuming the worst of others and preparing for war can maintain American dominance.

The old Venetian and British balance of power strategy is thus the best, Kaplan argues, and says that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s alleged “rejection of balance of power politics as a relic of the past is either disingenuous or misguided”. The solution to the problem of a possible Chinese power projection beyond Taiwan, he claims, is another tactic adapted from the imperial Brits of 100 years ago – the mystic-sounding “regional presence in being” – by which is meant “a dispersed collection of forces just over the horizon that could quickly coalesce into a single unified force of necessary’”. He thus advocates a build-up of US forces in and around the Indian Ocean (this likely also serves as advance publicity for his forthcoming book on US power and the Indian Ocean due out this coming autumn) and in Oceania as well as defence agreements with Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore: “this would ensure free navigation and inimpeded energy flows (i.e. especially oil and gas – Terry) throughout Eurasia”.

Kaplan advances towards his conclusion -

“a Greater China may be emerging….but just beyond this new realm will be a stream of US warships, many perhaps headquartered in Oceania and partnering with naval forces from India, Japan, and other democracies”

and confidently asserts that

“even as the US land presence around the borders of a Greater China diminshes, the US Navy will continue to be stronger than the Chinese navy”.

As mentioned above, he closes with his doom-laden statement about “the US-Chinese tensions in the years ahead” in “the signal drama of the age.”

What follows Kaplan’s essay immediately in this issue of FA is “Bigger is Better – The Case for a Transatlantic Economic Union” by Richard Rosecrance. Now, why should he be advocating this? On the surface, his argument seems to run counter to Kaplan’s. For example, he writes:

“With a potential Chinese challenge looming in the 2020s, the odds would seem stacked in favour of conflict, and in other eras it would have made sense to bet on it. Yet military conflict is not likely to occur this time around, because even if political power sometimes repels, today economic power attracts. The US does not need to fight rising challengers such as China or India or even to balance one off against another. It can use its own market capacity, combined with that of Europe, to draw surging protocapitalist states into its web.”

A telling sentence, that last one, for it implies that the US is a spider. And what does a spider do to those unfortunate creatures it ‘draws into its web’ ?

But Rosecrance’s argument is fallacious in its facile optimism that the world is inexorably – and pacifically – moving toward regional trade blocs and ultimately global free trade. One could have been equally optimistic in 1913, a year before the outbreak of the Great War, and one of the prominent economic commentators in the world’s leading nation, Britain, did just that in 1910, when Normal Angell in his best-selling book “The Grand Illusion” declared that modern economies were then so interlocked that war between them had become unthinkable as both sides would suffer too much. Rosecrance seems not to be aware of Angell, and war indeed appears not to be on the mind of Rosecrance as he argues for a transatlantic economic free trade area and customs union which he imagines Japan might even join. China would be hard put to cope with this, he opines, as even its increased domestic consumption would “not be able to sop up all the goods that China currently exports to technologically advanced and luxury markets in Europe, the US and Japan”. For Rosecrance, clearly, our present voracious capitalist consumption patterns would continue.

Rosecrance’s entire argument is based on one simple claim – over historical time, markets have got larger and larger, and we should encourage them to do so because size benefits all. He then tries to slip by us the idea that a transatlantic economic union between the USA and Europe, which he calls “the strongest economic power on earth”, was in fact the brainchild of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as recently as 2006, when in fact, elitists on both sides of the Atlantic have been working steadily towards it for decades, ever since the founding of the European Common Market, in fact. Godfather of the EU, Jean Monnet, ever had a transatlantic economic and defence union in view.

The point is that Rosecrance’s economic arguments for such an economic union are needed by the US elite, because they dare not speak the truth they believe in, which is that they wish to hedge their bets against China. Everyone knows that the US economy has been in steady decline in real terms since the Vietnam War. The Clinton-Bush financial bubble years merely disguised and masked that decline, which was revealed in all its ugliness when the bubble burst in 2007-2008. In any case, the bubbles were financed to a large extent by the surging growth of China, though that fact too was hardly mentioned by western media until a few years ago. The clapped-out US economy, its greed for imports suddenly cut off by the recession, is now overly dependent on Chinese money. It would take decades to revivify US manufacturing on anything like a substantial scale. China, however, has weathered the recession much better, because its society is in a different stage in its developmental curve, and like Germany in the 1930s, its authoritarian government with its unifying nationalist ethos is better able to direct resources to where they appear to be needed.

The US has become like the Roman army in the days of the late Empire – a vast and still powerful ramified force with a huge appetite that can hardly any longer be sustained by a crumbling societal and economic base. It therefore needs to draw support, crutches in fact, from more vigorous allies and satellites. Europe is in effect driven by the German economy, the fundamentals of which are still in reasonable condition compared to the atrophied, debilitated state of the US and UK economies where so much of the manufacturing base and skills for example, have all but disappeared. It is a macro-historical principle that the more a state expands outwardly, the more its forces become corrupted inwardly, lose vigour and wither.

Since 1945, Europe has not had to devote so much of its attention to defence and the military, because the US, or rather, the US military-industrial complex, preferred to do that for the Europeans. Europe was able to focus on societal and economic development. Now the US elite are saying in effect, “it’s payback time; we defended you for decades against the Soviets. Now you must prepare to help to defend us all, economically and militarily, against the Chinese.” The essence of that so-called military threat was addressed by Kaplan. Rosecrance follows him in FA by focusing on the economic means to provide the military muscle to meet that perceived threat.

This brings us to the third of the four articles, The Brussels Wall by William Drozdiak, who welds together the economic and military aspects of transatlantic ‘cooperation’ and argues that the economic power of the EU and the military power of NATO must be merged and melded. From the outset he mentions the rising Asian challenge, but says :

the West is not doomed to decline as a centre of power and influence. A relatively simple strategic fix could reinvigorate the historic bonds between Europe and North America and *re-establish the West’s dominance*: (emphasis – Terry) it is time to bring together the West’s principal institutions, the EU and NATO.

And of course, maintaining that western dominance, by which is actually meant the dominance of those who speak English, is what the CFR and Chatham House (RIIA) have always been about. What has made this union of the EU and NATO now possible, Drozdiak says, is France’s rejoining NATO. This has happened under Nicholas Sarkozy, so he is a key here. He was put in place to enable this to happen. Segolene Royal, his former Socialist opponent in the Presidential election of 2007, would have been unlikely to do it. The following year, candidate Barack Obama spoke to more than 200,000 people in Berlin and declared: “The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand.” He certainly was not referring to the US and Germany, but rather to the US and France, and ultimately, to the US and Russia, the old ‘allies’ of World War II who divided central Europe between them, but that would take us to the 4th FA article, so back to the 3rd….

Drozdiak does, however, at least touch on the possibility of Russia engaging in talks with NATO and raises the spectre of ‘the Chinese threat’: talks with NATO

“may well convince Moscow that cooperating with the West serves its own security interests because the greater long-term threats come from Chinese intrusion on Russia’s eastern border and the spread of Islamic radicalism to its south.”

This was a joint spectre The Economist of London was already flagging up to Russia in Dec. 1992! The western elites have long-running agendas and are nothing if not persistent. Drozdiak lists the various challenges, such as potential conflicts and wars over resources around the world from the Arctic to Africa and Central Asia in the coming decades that urge the need for the US and the EU to tighten their military cooperation. He recognises that the Europeans (with the exception of the British, no doubt!) will remain more interested in projecting soft power than hard military power. This, he says,

“will mean that the US will continue to assume the dominant role in supplying military firepower, while Europe steps up its extensive aid efforts in such fields as economic reconstruction, police training, health and education.”

In other words, the Europeans are expected to dish out the money and the Americans the muscle and mayhem, as America has no more money to spare. Drozdiak concludes with the familiar ringing American ‘missionary’ zeal: “It is time to give the EU and NATO a new lease on life by endowing them with a common transatlantic mission.” But we remember he started with the spectre of fear – the fear of China, the same thing that underlies Kaplan’s military, and Rosecrance’s economic, reasoning.


Finally, Charles A. Kupchan, supposedly on the liberal internationalist wing of the CFR, takes up a thought that Drozdiak floated in his essay and develops it into a full-scale argument, one which many Americans might baulk at, but which the transatlantic imperial elite have had in mind for a good long while. His essay is titled: “NATO’s Final Frontier – Why Russia Should Join the Atlantic Alliance.” His subject is prescient: he starts out by telling us that at the upcoming November 2010 NATO summit this year “the alliance’s members intend to adopt a new strategic concept to guide [NATO's] evolution. NATO’s relationship with Russia is at the top of the agenda.” He goes on to describe how the West has excluded Russia since the fall of the USSR, but that Russia’s new-found confidence in recent years and the West’s need for Russian cooperation on a number of key issues (e.g. Iran, Afghanistan, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation etc) has changed things and made it vital that the West draw Russia into more cooperative arrangements, even into NATO itself. The West should integrate Russia and other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) into the alliance, he says.

Take a moment to think what that would mean, given that Drozdiak has already indicated that the EU and NATO should merge. The CFR are suggesting a military and economic alliance that would stretch right round the world from Alaska across N.America, across the Atlantic, Europe, Russia to the Siberian side of the Bering Strait and which would also include the CIS, the states of the former USSR. Think how that would look from Beijing’s perspective. China would be surrounded on almost all sides, by land and sea.“Countries will be either NATO members or outsiders”, writes Kupchan. However, he then says that Russia may choose to reject this option:

“But if the primary institutions of the Euro-Atlantic community ultimately fail to extend their reach to Russia, let it be due to the Kremlin’s missteps, not because the Atlantic democracies failed to demonstrate the vision or the will to embrace Russia in a pan-European order.”

This raises the possibility that Kupchan’s vision is not meant to be taken seriously – that the West merely intends to be seen to make the offer, but that events will somehow intervene to prevent it being realised. And indeed, this is even a probable scenario. The Economist article mentioned above, from Dec. 1992, imagines a future in the early 21st century, not long after 2016, when China, allied with the new “Muslim power” of the “New Caliphate” which would follow a coup in Saudi Arabia in 2011, would make war on Russia and seize much of its territory in the vast regions east of the Urals – while Europe and America (EU-NATO, “Euro-America”) simply looked on.

Two sentences from Kupchan’s essay stand out in its early part:

“The US sees NATO primarily as a tool for power projection, using it gather European partners that can contribute to missions well beyond the European theatre.”

Are most Europeans really aware of this baldly stated fact, we can ask? Secondly, Kupchan says of the new eastern European EU and NATO members that “their reluctance to augment the military strength and profile of the EU could undermine the transatlantic link; a more capable EU is essential to keeping Europe geopolitically relevant to the US.”

Russian membership of NATO could cause considerable strains within the alliance, Kupchan admits, but claims the benefits would outweigh the difficulties. He gives 5 reasons why:

1) integration would remove take Russia out of its current “strategic limbo” and serve to promote its democratisation – a “pacific pan-European community” would be “completed”;

2) Russia’s military capabilities would give the West more military ‘heft’. Interestingly, he does not even mention the thousands of nuclear warheads the Russians still possess but only its one-million active duty forces, and the ‘delicate’ problem of sharing military intelligence and technology;

3) Russia joining NATO will enable Georgia and Ukraine also to join without problems;

4) Russia in NATO “would ensure NATO (i.e. the US – Terry) remains in control of the evolution of the Euro-Atlantic space”;

5) Because Russia’s perspectives, being truly Eurasian, are so much broader than most European countries, Russia in NATO could help facilitate the West’s emerging relationships with the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China) as well as help deal with Iran and N.Korea. Kupchan too ends his list with a glowingly idealistic summation:

“NATO membership for Russia could both complete the project of building a Euro-Atlantic community at peace and help prepare that community for the multipolar and politically diverse world of the future.”

(note, by the way, that he here admits that it has been a ‘project’; ‘projects’ take a long time to build, in this case since 1950! The ‘Euro-Atlantic community’ building project has been entirely hidden from the peoples of the US and Europe for six decades by the elites that have been steadily working on this particular piece of masonry)

Well, Kupchan’s vision sounds wonderfully positive and pacific, doesn’t it! But he has of course omitted to mention in his 5 points the elephant in the room: China is not going to accept this Vancouver-Vienna-Vladivostok construction lying down. That does not bother Kupchan; he just ignores it, and his very ignoring of it more than suggests that he does not take his own proposal seriously. In ignoring the Chinese elephant, he has simply conjured up his own white elephant out of 5 puffs of smoke. Most of the rest of his essay deals with how the West could overcome the difficulties of Russian membership of NATO, difficulties that for the most part are but hangovers from the Cold War era; there is no mention of China for the rest of the essay! For example, he recognises the problem of allowing into NATO a country that by his standards is not ‘democratic’. But this does not bother him. NATO has done it before, he says, with Greece, Portugal and Turkey – all at one time ruled by military dictatorships and yet “steady NATO allies”, so NATO could do it again with Russia; there is a precedent. He also recognises that “some of the US’s closest allies” happen to be some of “the world’s most illiberal regimes” – in the sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf. This is the kind of realpolitik thinking that gained Henry Kissinger’s imprimateur on the front cover of Kupchan’s 2002 book, the guilefully titled The End of the American Era.

Kupchan admits there would be many hurdles to jump before Russia could become a proper member of NATO, but that, with effort, they could be overcome, as they were in the case of Germany in the 1950s, he says. He finishes by noting that Vladimir Putin said some years ago that he would not rule out Russian membership of NATO as long as Russia were “a full-fledged partner“; “it is now time to hold Putin to his word”, says Kupchan.

It is little short of astonishing that China is almost entirely absent from his entire article. It only appears in the context of ‘better relations with the BRIC countries’. One picture can be worth more than a thousand words, they say. A particular silence can be equally expressive. Kupchan is floating a mirage here. His essay is surely aimed more at the Chinese than at the Russians, and we can be sure every issue of the CFR flagship publication ‘Foreign Affairs‘ is carefully read in Moscow and Beijing. The Japanese word ‘karate’ means ‘empty hand’, and those ‘empty hands’ can be lethal if they are those of a martial artist. Kupchan’s article is ‘empty’ of China and of what the CFR likes to discuss as ‘the Chinese threat’: China is conspicuous by its absence.

The four articles of the May/June 2010 issue of Foreign Affairs that have been discussed here thus range from the explicit, solid anti-Chinese fist in Kaplan’s essay “China’s Grand Map”, where it is all too easy to see where Kaplan is headed, through the more nuanced pieces “Bigger Is Better” by Rosecrance and “The Brussels Wall” by Drozdiak, which are intended to provide the US with European money and various sources of non-military support by binding ‘the Euro-Atlantic community’ tightly together in the face of what is just touched on in the two articles as the coming ‘Chinese threat’ that looms beyond the ‘Islamist threat’, (and presumably after the Chinese threat, we shall be presented by the Martian threat) through to the apparent open pacific hand of Kupchan’s article: Russia welcomed into NATO, the Euro-Atlantic community ‘completed’ in peace from Vancouver to Vladivostok, and China – absent.

But under Kupchan’s plan, “Nato’s Final Frontier” will be the borders of China herself. These four articles culminate with Kupchan in what seems to this writer as….not a masterpiece, but a clever piece of deception – an example of a kind of American attempt to practise the Chinese ethos of ‘wu wei’ – ‘action without action’, ‘effortless doing’, or in this case – striking at Russia by making an empty offer to her with an empty hand and without mentioning the real Chinese fist that the West intends will be used for the strike. The tactic thus seems to be to keep the Russians and Chinese guessing as to western intentions by presenting these four seemingly different options. But their subtext is the same, namely, that the West ought to bind itself ever closer together, with or without Russia, in order to meet ‘the Chinese threat’.

Around the turn of the century 100 years ago there was much racist talk in the West of ‘a yellow peril’. Then it was the rising power of Japan that was seen as the threat. The British elite, which always saw the rising power of *Russia* as its real danger, cannily cosied up to this ‘yellow peril’ and entered into a formal alliance with Japan in 1902. It then cheered Japan on as the Japanese went to war with Russia just two years later, supported, armed and financed by Britain and America. In the chaos of the Russian Civil War from 1918 onwards, Britain, France and America looked the other way as the Japanese invaded and occupied large parts of eastern Siberia in the territory of the West’s former wartime ally. Today, it seems increasingly likely that the West is preparing to play a similar game with China, and the main loser in this game will once again be Russia, caught in the middle.

Terry Boardman  July 2010

This article was first uploaded 16.7.2010 Updated 12.7.2012