Could China Be Planning Something?

Putin’s invasion of the Crimea reportedly caught the White House, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the State Department off guard. It is a good time to ask, “What else might be in the pipeline?”

Think about it. We have an ostentatiously weak President, who seems to be intent on harming our friends and helping our enemies, and he is too vain to be able to admit — even to himself — that he has made a series of egregious foreign-policy mistakes and that the world does not work in the fashion in which he thinks it does.

Putin thumped him but good on Syria and did a little victory dance on the op-ed page of The New York Times. Now, thinking — as Nikita Khrushchev did with regard to John F. Kennedy — that he is dealing with a total wimp, he has decided to do to the Ukraine what Hitler did to Czechoslovakia in 1938, which is to say: carve off an ethnic conclave and swallow it down. The difference is that Hitler acted like a gentleman and sought permission first, which suggests a certain respect on his part for Neville Chamberlain, while Vlad the Impaler has opted for open thuggery and a public display of contempt, and he has simply whipped out his carving knife and begun doing the job. Obama was apparently not even worthy of consultation.

But this is all obvious. The next move is not. A former student of mine is willing to hazard a guess. After reading the piece I posted a few days ago, he wrote to me the following:

I did read you on Ukraine with interest, as always. But notice China’s silence…. I’m sure Putin worked things out in advance with the Chinese. They can expand into the Pacific, while Putin expands into the Ukraine. Ukraine sets a precedent of sorts for a Pacific expansion by the Chinese. Those Chinese living up in Siberia make for a very long term issue when compared with the amazing opportunities in far more important parts of the world that are offered by three more years of the current American administration. That’s my take on things.

He is right about one thing. The Chinese are on board:

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov discussed Ukraine by telephone with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on Monday, and claimed they had “broadly coinciding points of view” on the situation there, according to a ministry statement.

Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva later, Mr Lavrov said Russian troops were necessary in Ukraine “until the normalisation of the political situation” and dismissed threats of sanctions and boycotts.

He added: “We call for a responsible approach, to put aside geopolitical calculations, and above all to put the interests of the Ukrainian people first.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said: “China has always upheld the principles of diplomacy and the fundamental norms of international relations.

“At the same time we also take into consideration the history and the current complexities of the Ukrainian issue.”

My former student may also be right about the rest. If China were to seize Taiwan, I can imagine the Russian foreign ministry spokesman saying, “Russia has always upheld the principles of diplomacy and the fundamental norms of international relations. At the same time we also take into consideration the history and the current complexities of the Taiwan issue.”

I could easily imagine Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping doing a Hitler-Stalin tango. Folks, this will not be over before the fat lady sings.

Sarah Palin saw all of this coming in 2008. Mitt Romney saw it in 2012. We ought to be asking ourselves, “What next?”