The Great American Blunder

From a geopolitical perspective, the U.S. today has never been weaker than since the post-Vietnam era.

Remember the images of U.S. helicopters taking off from its South Vietnamese embassy in 1975, loaded with refugees trying to escape the country?

It was a national humiliation.

So was the disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2022. Desperate Afghans, eager to escape Taliban rule, clung to American transports leaving Kabul.

It might represent an even greater national humiliation.

In both cases, U.S. weakness was on full display for the world to see. Its defeat in Vietnam led to Soviet geopolitical gains throughout the world.

U.S. credibility around the world was restored during the 1980s as Reagan rebuilt the U.S. military into a powerful force.

U.S. geopolitical power peaked after its dramatic victory in the First Gulf War in 1991. But the U.S. proceeded to squander that power in the wake of 9/11, with strategic failures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, for the past 20 years, the U.S. focused on fighting terrorists that have limited combat capability, not serious rivals like Russia with significant conventional forces.

Wonder Weapons?

Many U.S. weapons systems supplied to Ukraine have proven to be inadequate or in some cases, total failures.

Patriot missile batteries cannot shoot down Russian hypersonic missiles. The Patriot batteries are being blown up one-by-one at a cost of $1 billion each.

U.S. Bradley fighting vehicles have been left in flames and ruins on the battlefields of Ukraine due to Russian mines.

The M-777 howitzers the U.S. and its allies have sent to Ukraine have proved too fragile to withstand the high rates of fire required on the Ukrainian battlefields.

And U.S. HIMARS precision artillery doesn’t always work because the Russians have learned to jam the guidance systems with electronic warfare techniques.

Don’t think that the rest of the world hasn’t taken note of all this.

Meanwhile, the U.S. industrial capacity to provide the weapons and ammunition to fight this type of attritional war is highly inadequate.

The U.S. produces about 14,000 artillery shells per month, which it hopes to double over the next few years. That might seem like a lot. But 14,000 shells is only enough to supply Ukraine for about a week at current firing rates.

On the other hand, it’s estimated that the Russians are producing anywhere from 250,000-400,000 shells per month.

You do the math.

The Weakest Link in the Chain

But the weakest link in the chain isn’t inadequate ammunition or substandard equipment. The weakest link in the chain is U.S. senior leadership, particularly Joe Biden. The Russians and the Chinese have taken note.

They just conducted joint naval operations off the coast of Alaska and well within sight of U.S. territory in the Aleutian Islands.

Few Americans may realize or recall that, during World War II, the Japanese Imperial Navy actually did invade and occupy parts of Alaska close to where the Russians and Chinese are conducting surveillance today.

Weakness breeds weakness and eventually war. The weak leadership in the U.S. is inviting unprecedented challenges from our main rivals. Expect more of this until someday two ships collide or two planes collide in mid-air, potentially leading to a shooting war.

This wasn’t inevitable. For years, the U.S. has driven Russia into the arms of China through a combination of hubris and strategic shortsightedness. That was a massive mistake.

Worse Than a Crime, It Was a Blunder

Russia, China and the U.S. are the only true superpowers and the only three countries that ultimately matter in geopolitics. That’s not a slight against any other power. But all others are secondary powers (the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Israel, etc) or tertiary powers (Iran, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc).

One of the keys to U.S. foreign policy in the last 50 or 60 years has been to make sure that Russia and China never form an alliance. Keeping them separated was key.

Specifically, the U.S. has strived to ensure that no power, or combination of powers, could dominate the Eurasian landmass.

This meant that the ideal posture for the U.S. is to ally with Russia (to marginalize China) or ally with China (to marginalize Russia), depending on overall geopolitical conditions.

The U.S. conducted this kind of triangulation successfully from the 1970s until the early 2000s.

In 1972, Nixon pivoted to China to put pressure on Russia. In 1991, the U.S. pivoted to Russia to put pressure on China after the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Unfortunately, the U.S. lost sight of this basic rule of international relations. It is now Russia and China that have formed a strong alliance, to the disadvantage of the United States.

The war in Ukraine has intensified this dynamic.

Historians Will Scratch Their Heads

One leg of the China-Russia relationship is their joint desire to see the U.S. dollar lose its status as the world’s dominant reserve currency. They’ve chafed against the ways in which the U.S. has used the dollar as a financial weapon.

Again, the unprecedented sanctions against Russia have accelerated this process. We’ll see it come to fruition next week, when the BRICS nations are expected to launch a new gold-backed currency.

Ultimately, this two-against-one strategic alignment of China and Russia against the U.S. is a strategic blunder by Washington.

The fact is, Washington has squandered a major opportunity to shape the geopolitical world in America’s favor.

When future historians look back on the 2010s they will be baffled by the lost opportunity for the U.S. to mend fences with Russia, develop economic relations and create a win-win relationship between the world’s greatest technology innovator and the world’s greatest natural resources provider.

It will seem a great loss for the world.

Russia is the nation that the U.S. should have tried to court and should still be courting. That’s because China is the greatest geopolitical threat to the U.S. because of its economic and technological advances and its ambition to push the U.S. out of the Western Pacific sphere of influence.

Russia may be a threat to some of its neighbors (ask Ukraine), but it is far less of a threat to U.S. strategic interests. It’s not the Soviet Union anymore. Therefore, a logical balance of power in the world would be for the U.S. and Russia to find common ground in the containment of China and to jointly pursue the reduction of Chinese power.

Of course, that hasn’t happened. And we could be paying the price for years to come. Who’s to blame for this U.S. strategic failure? You can start with the globalist elites…

It’s All About Trump

The elites’ efforts to derail Trump gave rise to the “Russia collusion” hoax. While no one disputes that Russia sought to sow confusion in the U.S. election in 2016, that’s something the Russians and their Soviet predecessors had been doing since 1917. By itself, little harm was done.

Yet the elites seized on this to concoct a story of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. The real collusion was among Democrats, Ukrainians and Russians to discredit Trump.

It took the Robert Mueller investigation two years finally to conclude there was no collusion between Trump and the Russians. By then, the damage was done.

It was politically toxic for Trump to reach out to the Russians. That would be spun by the media as more evidence of “collusion.”

Whatever you think of Trump personally, the collusion story was always bogus.

Now, just a few short years later, Russia and China are successfully spearheading efforts to break away from the dollar and are conducting joint naval exercises within sight of American territory.

The U.S. has no one to blame but itself.

The Daily Reckoning