Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Clashing with Two Great Powers at Once Is Bad Policy

By Ivan Eland, Independent Institute

Right out of the gate, the Biden administration seems to be at loggerheads with both China and Russia. Richard Nixon would be disappointed.

Despite his reputation as an anticommunist, Nixon managed to get China and the Soviet Union in a competition to better relations with the United States. His diplomatic opening to the weaker and more radical Maoist China spurred the communist USSR to desire détente with the United States and the first U.S.-Soviet strategic arms limitation treaty (SALT I Treaty) for limiting long-range nuclear missiles.

To his immense credit, Joe Biden, almost immediately upon taking office, renewed with Russia a descendant of the SALT I Treaty, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) Treaty, for another five years. This treaty mitigates the only existential threat to the United States in its history—global thermonuclear annihilation. Yet the U.S.-Russian relationship is fraught, with the Putin regime’s interference in the 2016 and 2020 U.S. elections, incursion into Ukraine, and attempts to kill opponents.

U.S. gripes with China include territorial disputes with its neighbors in the South and East China Seas, oppression of the Uighurs in Xinjiang in western China, revocation of democracy in Hong Kong, trade practices perceived as unfair, and its military buildup, including its growing nuclear arsenal.

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