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What in the World?

Macron takes helm in asking China for help in Ukraine

Apr 07, 2023

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French President Emmanuel Macron is wrapping up a state visit he made to China in hopes of convincing President Xi Jinping to use his influence with Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin to end the conflict in Ukraine. Macron — who is facing stiff opposition at home over pension reforms — made little headway with his Chinese counterpart, although President Xi said he hoped Moscow and Kyiv could hold peace negotiations as soon as possible. He also expressed interest in meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy when the time was right. Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan explains why countries like France feel they need to play a larger role in global diplomacy.

Excerpted from Peter’s April 7 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

The week’s major news is that French President Macron is trying to bring Chinese President Xi to his senses. As Macron urges Xi to drop his support of Putin and the Russian war on Ukraine, we need to see why this conversation is even happening.

Russians like to blame the Americans for their shortcomings, and while this may have held some truth in the years following the Cold War, just about every country out there has an anti-Russian policy. The Chinese have jumped on the bandwagon and want to blame the U.S. for their issues, but now most countries have developed their own anti-Chinese policies.

As the U.S. steps back as the world’s police, these countries’ policies will play an even bigger part in the international space. While countries like the U.S. and France may still operate as partners, each will put its own interests first. And countries like Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Australia and India can even shape how China interacts with the rest of the world.

So what does all of this mean? China is simultaneously dealing with a multi-vectored opposition and mounting internal struggles. Between impending demographic collapse, single-pronged politics, and a crumbling financial system, the world can sit back and watch the Chinese system implode.

Hey, everybody, Peter Zion here coming to you from Charteris Bay on the South Island of New Zealand, just outside of Christchurch. This is going to be one of my last recordings from New Zealand. But these are all being released out of order based on current events. So you’re gonna see a little bit more of this gem that I used to call home in the weeks to come. Anyway, the big issue from this last week from my opinion, was that French president McCrone has been visiting China to have talks with Chairman is using ping, and to try to talk him out of some of his degree of support for what’s going on in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Now, Chinese media has been blaring about what a wonderful summit this is. And France’s idea of strategic independence, the idea that France specifically in Europe in general don’t have to follow the cue of the United States, they’ve been really hitting that hard. And it kind of shows the degree of political disintegration within China has now even reached the diplomatic core. Let me unpack that a little bit.

So one of the things that the Russians have always believed that the Chinese are now starting to say that they believe is that behind every plot, and every downside, and every setback that Moscow and Beijing have ever experienced, is the American hand, and that the Americans have been orchestrating and creating this alliance, in order contain and beat them back. And during the Cold War, there was definitely something to that, because the policy really was containment. And in the aftermath of World War Two, all of the traditional powers that had bordered the Soviets were broken in one way or the other. So the United States, physically reconstructed them, provided them with economic aid created a global system that allowed them to trade in excess energy and markets. And as a result, the United States received the authority to set their security policies. And while that certainly did contain and ultimately beat back the Soviet Union, and also gave the Soviets a lot of space, because if you look at the time before 1945, the Soviets were dealing with a couple of dozen major countries, all of which had their own interest, and all of them which viewed Russia as a mortal threat. So whether it was Finland or Sweden, or Norway, or Denmark, or Poland, or Germany, or France, or turkey, or Japan, each of these independent countries had their own anti-Russia strategy. And one of the reasons why the Russians are so hosed now is a lot of these countries are coming back into the room because we are entering a post American world.

Yes, the United States is to a degree riding herd on what’s left of the alliance structure. But because the United States has military structure has shifted, and because it’s now super carrier focused, as opposed to having hundreds of ships that can be everywhere at once. The United States just physically can’t be there at any given time. And in the aftermath of the war on terror and the Iraq conflict. United States isn’t going to be deploying land troops on a global basis for a very long time, if ever again, that leaves it to these independent countries to look after their own policy sets. And they have historically speaking, been far more incisive, using far more effective and far more subtle and form or disruptive, and far more subversive than anything the United States has ever done. Yes, the United States is, has been and will remain the single most powerful player, but it’s not the only one. And that because of the nature of American foreign policymaking where you’ve got the President and the Secretary of State and the National Security Adviser, and that’s about it, that’s the decision makers, the US really has a hard time focusing on more than two or three things at a time. Whereas if you’re in say, France, you can focus on issues closer to the horizon with more intensiveness. And so the Chinese inability to make this distinction means that they’re preparing for a world where the United States is writing her none Alliance, that doesn’t exist. And that means everything else is going to be able to come through the cracks. Because anyone who has studied French policy knows that the French are wildly creative at causing problems for countries they don’t like for whatever reason. So are the French and the Americans going to operate side by side with no light between them? No, we’re partners. We’re friends, to a degree we’re even family. But we don’t always see things through the same light. And yes, Washington does find that annoying from time to time as the French from our point of view go off. But the French are doing things for the French, and they’re definitely not doing it for the Chinese or the Russians. So that’s kind of piece one. Piece two is look at the array of countries that be are going to be doing this the French are actually a minor power in the East Asian sphere. I would be far more concerned about countries like Japan, which has the world’s second largest Bluewater Navy who has the capacity of shutting down the ceilings that go to and from China without help from the United States. I’d be worried about the Taiwanese because well, militarily, they’re not going to conquer the mainland anytime soon. They still have the intelligence apparatus operating within China already. This is the only thing that they care about. The cause a significant amount of harm and disruption and of course, gather information for others. I’d worry about Vietnam. which has a coastline on the South China Sea that’s over 1000 miles long that the Chinese have to sail down. The Vietnamese don’t even need a navy to disrupt Chinese commerce. I’d worry about Australia, which is in the process of building nuclear submarines and more importantly, mid range air launched cruise missiles, which could disrupt everything the Chinese can do. I would worry about India, who doesn’t even have to leave home and ever completely wreck the Chinese economy. None of these countries with the possible exception of Australia really operate as deputies of the United States. All of them are creative. All of them have their own capacities, and all of them have their own reasons for tearing down the Chinese system in its current form. China is dealing with a multi vectored opposition of countries that can think for themselves and act for themselves.

Now, why would the Chinese let them fall into this trap? I mean, this really is Soviet style groupthink in play here. Are the Chinese smarter, don’t they think? 30 steps ahead, aren’t they the chess players while the Americans are the checkers players? Yeah, that’s a bunch of bullshit. About seven, eight years ago, the cult of personality forming up in China reached the point of no return and started taking the official form of something called a Jing ping thought. And that sounds a little bit groupthink ish, it’s because it is the idea is not only do we have a party ideology, we have one dude who’s setting our goal setting the process that we use to think and evaluate everything, and we need to all think like him. So in his first five years as Premier, as he purged the party of everyone who was an alternate power center against him, and then the second five years, he went against anyone who has any independent decision making at all, so there’s no one left, it’s just him. And his little form of groupthink is now all that is left. So Chinese diplomacy, Chinese defense planning used to be multifactor, they used to have a good intelligence system, they used to have a good propaganda system. But over the course of the last few years that has dissolved completely, and all that is left is his monochromatic thought process that is fixated on a story that is wildly inaccurate. And that is what guides all Chinese decision making.

Now, for those of you been following me for a while, you know, I think that the demographic situation in China is far past terminal, it’s a country killer, you know, that I think the financial system is far, far past terminal. And that’s a country killer. And now we have a race with political incompetence as to what is actually going to kill the country first. Now, and the long view of history, it doesn’t really matter if you’re killed by the car wreck falling off of a cliff, or heart disease, but for played up history in the here, and now for the next several years, it really will matter. And if it’s policy and competence that really leads China to its end, the impact on the Chinese population will be particularly horrific. Because this is a country that is dependent upon international connections, not just for its economic were for all but for its energy and its food supplies. And the last time we had that sort of break, it was a another period where an individual on the Chinese system impressed his version of ideology and to everyone’s thinking, and that was Mao Zedong thought and that led to the Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward, and the death of 10s of millions of his own countrymen from famine and political purchase. We are entering a situation where that’s one of the better scenarios for China for the next decade or two. All right, y’all take care. See you next time.

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