In sum, there is a real alternative to the bifurcated and black-and-white “hegemony or death” mentality and paradigm which has guided Washington’s foreign policy rationale and strategy for decades, namely, the balance of power logic and structure of international affairs. But as mentioned before, China is the one with the advantage in this emerging balance of power logic and structure, for a number of reasons. For one, China’s advantage comes in the wake of a failed policy of global hegemony on the part of Washington. Second, there are underlying trends in a postmodern age which give the advantage to China in a balance of power logic and structure of international affairs. Nor is it likely that Washington would be able to completely decouple China from Russia in the emerging Cold War context of Western politics in the 21st century.
Not only are there parallels in the beliefs, culture, and ideology of Russia and China, but there are also economic, financial, and material considerations which revolve around energy and natural resources that would make it virtually impossible for Washington to decouple China from Russia. At most, China would seek to diversify its sources of energy and natural resources as opposed to abandoning one source for another one, even if Washington seeks that path for China. Moreover, it is the parallels in belief, culture, and ideology which will bring Russia and China closer over the course of time, and in turn this convergence based on belief, culture, and ideology will be more decisive than economic, financial, and material factors in rendering a final result and outcome for the broader balance-of-power conflict and dispute between the Western and Eastern blocs down the road.
As mentioned before, economic and financial sanctions were part of a broader hegemonic policy and strategy on the part of Washington over the course of the last few decades which ended up failing. Arguably, it is Western sanctions which can explain in large part the emergence of an Eastern bloc which parallels the Western bloc in the international system over all other evident and tangible explanations and factors which can go behind the rise of an Eastern bloc. As Agathe Demarais argued in a book titled “Backfire: How Sanctions Reshape the World Against U.S. Interests”:
“The time of peak U.S. Sanctions has passed. American diplomats will soon be deprived of their favorite weapon to cajole, threaten, or punish U.S. enemies. In coming years, Washington will have to learn to collaborate with partners and to negotiate with adversaries without having the sanctions ace up its sleeve.”
“The demise of U.S. unilateral sanctions reflects both their potency (targeted countries were always going to try to find ways to circumvent such powerful measures) and the erosion of America’s position as the world’s sole superpower. Washington’s lack of interest in the side effects of its unilateral policies also united both friends and enemies against U.S. sanctions. For American policy makers, the loss of the previously all-powerful sanctions weapon will be a seismic change.”
As they stand, Western sanctions have already prompted a deep divide between the Western bloc on one hand and what is now a fast-emerging Eastern bloc led by China on the other hand. And for Washington to push sanctions even further at this point in time and amidst the current circumstances and conditions of international society would deepen the divide even further, and this deepening divide will manifest itself in the 21st century Cold War politics of the Western world in a manner which will be to the detriment of Washington and Brussels over the long run. Nevertheless, and regardless of what path Washington takes in terms of sanctions and in terms of its “hegemony or death” mentality and paradigm overall, many of us have learned to live with the effects of Western containment, confinement, and hegemony and thus have learned to live with the cancellations, denials, and stonewalling which come with such a distasteful and toxic mentality and paradigm.