chris_gerrib: (Me)
[personal profile] chris_gerrib
I've said before that I think this century will "rhyme" with the 19th century. A remark on this post about Ukraine brought that thought to the foreground. The remark was to the effect of "the only reason we're able to give a damn about what Russia does in Ukraine is because they were so weak in the 90s and early 2000s."

A bit of history: France and Great Britain spent several hundred years at war (cold, hot and warm) with each other. Then two separate French regimes collapsed, and in 1815 the war was over. France and Britain then spent several decades glaring at each other while various French leaders tried, with limited success, to restore the former glory of France.

Eventually, British strategic interests, namely preventing the Continent from falling under the control of one nation (Germany), meant that France was a better ally then an enemy. By WWI, this alliance wasn't completely formalized, relying on a series of handshake deals, but thanks to German bungling it crystallized.

I would submit that we're at the "glaring at each other" stage of our relationship with Russia. Two separate regimes have collapsed, and a leader is trying to restore some former glory. He's having some success, but a strong Russian leader would be standing on top of a tank in Kiev about now.

The US and Russia do share a strategic interest - namely preventing China from running the world. Right now, while Russia and the US are glaring at each other, the Chinese Bismarck (who has the advantage of an already-unified China) is working to expand China's ability to project power outside their borders. Eventually, the US, with 300 million people, is going to want help with China's 1.3 billion. At the same time, Russia is going to want help keeping China out of Siberia if not Moscow.

There is nothing inevitable in history except death and taxes, but I find the parallels interesting.


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